Monday, 31 October 2016

Stranger Things: Season 1 Review

Stranger Things: Season 1 Review

Episodes : 8
Released on Netflix

Mixing up Stand By Me, Poltergeist, Spielberg, Stephen King and a dash of horror, the 8 episode series Stranger Things is a nostalgic blast of addictive mystery.

Set in 1983, it's the story of four kids who find one of their number go missing in middle America. As the search begins, a mysterious and relatively mute little girl is found - and a shadowy government agency comes looking...

Nicely paced, this mystery series works well and is cleverly constructed by the Duffer Brothers. Pulling in genres of the time, mixing in some spookier elements and providing a chapter narrative works brilliantly for Stranger Things.

It also works as it's generational; choosing to concentrate on three groups - the young kids, the teens and romances thereof and the grieving mother (played by Winona Ryder) and damaged policeman (David Harbour) - works well and when all three sides intersect, it feels naturalistic and in keeping with what's already passed.

Ultimately, Strange Things is a show that's worthy of a binge and worthy of sticking with. It remains to be seen whether season 2 of Stranger Things will still hold the attention for as long and or whether it'll benefit as an American Horror Story style anthology; but for now, this original Netflix series is up there with the best the small screen has to offer.

Win a double pass to see Nocturnal Animals

Win a double pass to see Nocturnal Animals

Nocturnal Animals In Cinemas November 10
Rating R16

Susan Morrow, a Los Angeles art dealer (portrayed by Ms. Adams), lives an incredibly privileged yet unfulfilled life with her husband Hutton Morrow (Armie Hammer).

One weekend, as Hutton departs on one of his too-frequent business trips, Susan receives an unsolicited package that has been left in her mailbox. It is a novel, Nocturnal Animals, written by her ex-husband Edward Sheffield (Mr. Gyllenhaal), with whom she has had no contact for years. 

Edward’s note accompanying the manuscript encourages Susan to read the work and then to contact him during his visit to the city. Alone at night, in bed, Susan begins reading. 

The novel is dedicated to her…

 …but its content is violent and devastating. While Susan reads, she is deeply moved by Edward’s writing and cannot help but reminisce over the most private moments from her own love story with the author. 

Trying to look within herself and beyond the glossy surface of the life and career that she has made, Susan increasingly interprets the book as a tale of revenge, a tale that forces her to re-evaluate the choices that she has made, and re-awakens a love that she feared was lost – as the story builds to a reckoning that will define both the novel’s hero and her own.  

To enter simply email to this address: or click here  and in the subject line put NOCTURNAL! 

Hacksaw Ridge: Film Review

Hacksaw Ridge: Film Review

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Hugo Weaving, Vince Vaughn, Sam Worthington, Teresa Palmer, Rachel Griffiths
Director: Mel Gibson

It's perhaps easy to see why Mel Gibson would be drawn to the true story of conscientious objector Desmond Doss, a man whose unconventional ways saw him save 75 of his colleagues during the battle of Okinawa in May 1945.

Once on the outside of Hollywood, director Gibson's had a bit of a comeback, with a recent starring role in B movie Blood Father and now with Oscar talk for a war film about the attack on Hacksaw Ridge during the height of the campaign.

But opting to take more of a cheesy biopic route for Hacksaw Ridge lends the film more to a feeling of Christian Forrest Gump goes to war, rather than a war film destined for the ages.

Garfield plays Doss, an almost simpleton hick of a man whose pacifism and world view was shaped by accidentally nearly bashing his brother to death in a play fight. With a fragile father suffering from PTSD from the Great War (an excellently nuanced turn from Weaving who pitches it perfectly between pathos and faltering abuse), Doss decides he wants to go to war - but to save lives rather than take them.

Despite his father's refusal to endorse this route for either of his sons, and with the army resolutely against Doss' denial of weapons, the fight between values and principles forms the large part of this film, complete with corny dialogue and cliched moments of imposed conflict with fellow trainees.

Facing a court martial, Doss is saved at the last moment unexpectedly from spending the war in prison and ships out to Okinawa to face the Japanese, swarming like locusts from underground and into direct conflict with Doss' ideologies and comrades.

It's perhaps during a ferocious 15 minute fight sequence atop Hacksaw Ridge that Gibson's film comes to life, spinning multiple brutal attacks and displaying the true horrors of war (and comes at a welcome relief from the onslaught of over-wrought and slow-mo shots of burned and battered bodies - subtlety is not Gibson's strong point here).

But in the final third of the film, Gibson's content to over-saturate proceedings with Christian elements, complete with overtly religious iconography (no worse than Doss' messianic final shot as he ascends in a stretcher from atop the Ridge with a Bible clutched in one hand and another hanging over the edge as the score rouses higher and higher) that feels as brutally obvious as some of the earlier elements of this relatively rote war film.

Doss' story is supposed to inspire and while Garfield gives good hick and earnestness to the man, he's not well served by the screenplay which wrings as much pathos as it can from an over-use and over-reliance on an unsubtle approach. Perhaps the final nail in the coffin is the inclusion of documentary footage and interviews from the real-life Doss to hammer home the point of it all - an unnecessary touch that removes any remaining power from what's already transpired.

Ultimately, Hacksaw Ridge eviscerates the heart of its own story by heading down a cliched route that's well trodden by others before it; its heavy-handed direction cripples its ultimate goal and what should be an inspiring true story depicting the horrors of war and the heroism of some is ham-fisted and hackneyed.

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Shots from Big Boys Toys

Shots from Big Boys Toys

Big Boys Toys hit Auckland's ASB Showgrounds this weekend.

Check out some shots from the event here

James White: DVD Review

James White: DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by Madman Home Ent

Financed via Kickstarter and brought to life when writer Josh Mond wanted to explore his feelings over his own mother's death, James White is clearly a labour of love for all involved.

White (played with rawness by Girls star Christopher Abbott) is a New Yorker, whose life is spiralling out of selfishness. But things change when his mother's cancer returns.

Intensely raw, and shot in close ups throughout, Mond manages to bring a claustrophobic intensity to the screen as he explores the story of self-destruction. Both Abbott and Sex and The City star Cynthia Nixon bring a degree of complexity to proceedings as White and his mother respectively.

You can't help but get swept up in proceedings, given the emotional levels mined here, and while the film has a universality that's likely to hit with more resonance for anyone who's ever been touched by cancer, the film's uncompromising and brisk approach to a sparsity of story-telling is to be applauded.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

NewsTalk ZB Review - Doctor Strange, Hell Or High Water and Ghostbusters

NewsTalk ZB Review - Doctor Strange, Hell Or High Water and Ghostbusters

This week, we're talking the 14th Marvel film, Doctor Strange, the brilliant Hell or High Water and take a look on Ghostbusters.

Take a listen below

I, Daniel Blake: Film Review

I, Daniel Blake: Film Review

Cast: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires
Director: Ken Loach

That I Daniel Blake is book-ended with the voice of its titular hero is no shock.

But that its ending and beginning convey such a dichotomy of feelings is equally no surprise.

The Palme D'Or winner from Brit socialist director Ken Loach is riddled with his usual concerns and stylistic touches. This time tackling the failings of society from two singular viewpoints, Loach has once again exacerbated the increasing common human condition in a world where the state is failing those around them, and they in turn are losing their grip on humanity.

Dave Johns is the ordinary everyman widower and Newcastle resident Daniel Blake stuck in a swirling vortex of increasing lunatic bureaucracy, swimming against a tide of pencil pushers and call centre bound helpers who seem determined to break his spirit.

Set against a backdrop of a council estate where grey is the default colour setting, and recovering from a heart attack and facing the prospect of his benefit being stopped, Daniel finds he is out of touch with the world after spending umpteen years working as a carpenter.

Now faced with online forms, the incessant tide of red tape and a lack of human compassion, Blake's trip to a job centre sees him help a just-moved-to Tyneside Londoner Katie ( Hayley Squires) whose facing similar issues with benefits agencies.

A burgeoning friendship grows between the pair, but the forces of the world are conspiring against them - and despite rallying cries to each for support, this is a battle that only the state can appear to win.

Blessed with a quiet determination and a rallying fanfare for the common man and decency all round, I, Daniel Blake is a study of society teetering, albeit one that's peppered with Loach's masterful eye for humour in the absurdity of life.

Much like 2014 NZIFF entry Still Life with the wonderful Eddie Marsan, I, Daniel Blake presents a salutary look to the solitary man, doing the decent thing when the world around him conspires against him.

You'd have to be a complete Loach virgin to not know where the story is going, but its strength lies in its central performance; Johns is very much the man we all aspire to be. A good neighbour, a friend when in need and a thoroughly decent bloke, the gradual beating down of the man is the film's rallying cry and it's all the more tragic for it.

It would be easy to milk I Daniel Blake for easy wins, and Loach never takes that approach; the impending pathos of the situations as they unfold proffer unsettling parallels in the world we all currently find ourselves in. Granted, there's the protestor toward the end who unleashes a mouthful at the incumbent Tory UK government, but Loach's strength at this point is how incredibly restrained this tirade is - and how the audience would be baying for more as it plays out.

But the ultimate victory of I Daniel Blake is the central performances of the duo. Theirs is a relationship that basks in earnestness, that tries to weather the incoming storm and that provides a quiet poignancy as the denouement rumbles around.

Make no mistake though, this is a polemic of the common man through a prism of Loach - a warning and tribute of what a little dignity can achieve and a harkening back to a time when neighbours were to be treated with open arms, not viewed with suspicion and mistrust.

Friday, 28 October 2016

2K Announces Carnival Games® VR Now Available on HTC Vive™ and PlayStation®VR

2K Announces Carnival Games® VR Now Available on HTC Vive™ and PlayStation®VR

2K Announces Carnival Games® VR Now Available on HTC Vive and PlayStation®VR

2K’s first virtual reality offering challenges consumers to step right up and play their favorite carnival games; Coming to Oculus Rift on 6th December, 2016

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #CarnivalGamesVR

Sydney, Australia – October 28, 2016 – 2K today announced that Carnival Games® VR, a new take on the hit franchise created by Cat Daddy Games that has sold-in more than 9 million copies worldwide, is now available as a AUD$29.95/NZD$31.95 digital download for PlayStation®VR and USD$19.99/NZD$31.95 for HTC Vive™. Carnival Games VR marks 2K’s first virtual reality offering, bringing the thrill of 12 different carnival games into living rooms in an engaging entertainment experience for all ages.

“2K is proud to make our debut in the exciting world of VR with an accessible and light-hearted entertainment experience,” said Sarah Anderson, SVP of Marketing at 2K. “Carnival Games VR’s stylized interactive environments and mini-games make it the perfect way to enjoy virtual reality with family and friends.

Carnival Games VR immerses players in a theme park, allowing them to explore, interact with patrons and play up to 12 unique games. Whether scaling a castle in Climbing Wall, or rolling for a high score in Alley Ball – everyone will find a favorite. In each of these games, players will have the opportunity to collect tickets for fun virtual prizes when they enter one of four different Carnival Alleys. All prizes are held in the Play Room where they can be used to unlock unique achievements. In addition, players can challenge their friends and see if they can earn the top spot on the online leaderboard. For full details on all 12 games, please see the Official 2K Blog.

Carnival Games VR is rated ‘G’ in Australia and New Zealand, is available now for the HTC Vive and PlayStation®VR, and will be available for Oculus Rift worldwide on 6th December, 2016. For more information on Carnival Games VR, subscribe on YouTube, follow us on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook and visit

*Users should consult the operating instructions provided with their VR hardware for safety guidelines and age restrictions. 

Oculus and Rift are trademarks of Oculus VR, LLC.

Steep Open Beta Weekend announced

Steep Open Beta Weekend announced


Players can Register Online by November 9 for an Early Access Beta Weekend

Sydney, Australia — October 28, 2016 — Today, Ubisoft announced that Steep™ will have two Beta phases from November 10th to 14th and from November 18th to 21st on Xbox One, PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and Windows PC. The beta phases let players hit slopes of the Alps ahead of the Steep worldwide launch on December 2nd
To watch trailer please click the image below

Access for the November 18 open beta will be available via digital download on consoles and PC giving access to all players wanting to explore Steep’s massive open-world. For those looking to start snow season sooner, early access to the beta will be available to some of the players who register at by November 9.

These beta phases will allow players to discover the diversity of Steep’s world by exploring, riding and completing dozens of challenges through three of the seven regions composing Steep’s massive open world inspired from the Alps –  the Aravis, the Tyrol and the Needles. Players will also find nine Mountain Stories – narrative-based challenges that will delve deeper into unique moments in the world of Steep – throughout their journey. Completing these challenges and Mountain Stories will also unlock new gear for players to customize their characters.

Finally, as they play and share their favourite lines taken from the beta, players will test Steep in a first-person view on top of the third-person view.

With development led by Ubisoft Annecy*, Steep drops players onto the peaks of mountains with exhilarating experiences that include skiing, wing-suiting, snowboarding and paragliding. These sports establish a never seen before freedom to explore the game’s open world, allowing players to choose the way they ride and play. Riders can traverse the Alps solo or drop in side-by-side with friends to record and share the most insane tricks ever captured on the slopes. Designed for a generation that’s all about sharing their experiences with the world, Steep encourages players to challenge their friends to see who truly comes out on top of the world.

For a chance to play during the first beta phase, players can still register at

For more information about Steep, please visit, follow us on or

LEGO Dimensions: Marceline the Vampire Queen Introduces Gizmo and Stripe to LEGO Dimensions

LEGO Dimensions: Marceline the Vampire Queen Introduces Gizmo and Stripe to LEGO Dimensions

Today, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment released the third episode in the “Meet That Hero!” video series, featuring the adorbs but spunky Marceline the Vampire Queen (Adventure Time), and the dynamic duo from Gremlins - Gizmo and Stripe.

In the video, the rocking Queen Marceline introduces viewers (with a chill jam, obviously) to Gizmo and Stripe, demonstrating exactly what not to do with a Gremlin, unless you’re looking to wreak havoc! The video also highlights Gizmo in action in the Gremlins Adventure World demonstrating his signature “rambo mode.”

Titanfall 2 - Become One Official Launch Trailer

Titanfall 2 - Become One Official Launch Trailer 

 Pilot and Titan must Become One in the sequel to Respawn's genre redefining Titanfall. The incredible speed of a Pilot with the devastating size of a Titan, when two combine, none remain. 

Titanfall 2 will be available worldwide on October 28 for the Xbox One, Playstation 4, and Origin for PC

Respawn Entertainment and Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) today announced that the highly anticipated Titanfallis now available in stores worldwide on Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, Origin™ for PC, and for the first time in the franchise, the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system. 

Winner of the Official Game Critics’ Award for Best Online Multiplayer at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in June, Titanfall 2 builds on the signature Pilot and Titan combat the series is known for and provides a deeper, more robust experience that once again delivers innovative, unique, and exciting gameplay. Titanfall 2 is receiving universal praise from critics around the world, with Game Informer giving it a 9.5, calling it a “must play”, while GamesRadar+ calls Titanfall 2, “one of the most creative and rewarding FPS in recent memory”, and PlayStation Lifestyle states Titanfall 2 is, “the new king of the FPS hill”. 


FINAL FANTASY XV - Omen Trailer & DLC Announcement

FINAL FANTASY XV - Omen Trailer & DLC Announcement

Season Pass and DLC Details Also Revealed

SYDNEY, 28th October 2016 – Square Enix Ltd., today announced that FINAL FANTASY® XV has gone gold. To mark this production milestone, a new CG cinematic trailer, entitled “Omen” released today. Eagle-eyed viewers will see that this dynamic new trailer also celebrates the game’s gold status in a unique way. Omen is a conceptual CG cinematic trailer created by the world-renowned 3D animation studio DIGIC Pictures, who also worked on KINGSGLAIVE: FINAL FANTASY XV. Noctis negotiates a rapidly shifting world, endless waves of enemies, a gradual loss of abilities and a madness that brings harm to his beloved fiancĂ©e. Inspired by the world and story of FINAL FANTASY XV, the trailer depicts a nightmarish “omen” for Noctis’ father King Regis, of a catastrophic future that must be avoided.

With FINAL FANTASY XV going gold, development now moves towards creating the Season Pass and DLC that will provide further content and ways to enjoy FINAL FANTASY XV into the year ahead.
The main focus of the Season Pass are three original episodes that take place during the events of FINAL FANTASY XV. Each episode features one of Noctis’ best friends as the playable character in an all-new adventure that offers unique play styles tailored to each friend. Episode Gladiolus is the first new character adventure to arrive and will be followed by Episode Ignis and Episode Prompto. Each episode will also be available for purchase individually.

Following the individual character episodes is Comrades; an expansion pack for FINAL FANTASY XV that offers a brand new online co-op mode for up to 4-players, allowing teams to take full control of Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto as a group. Comrades will be available for purchase separately and is included in the Season Pass.

These additional contents and episodes are managed by Haruyoshi Sawatari (Producer, Business Division 2) and overseen by FINAL FANTASY XV Director Hajime Tabata with development led by core members of theFINAL FANTASY XV team.

“Last year I travelled around the world and attended many game events. I felt an amazing passion and sense of expectation towards FINAL FANTASY XV from series fans everywhere,” said Sawatari. “From seeing that I really wanted to make it so that the fans could enjoy the game for longer and evolve and expand it even further. I will take these feelings and give them form, to deliver an amazing experience.”

The latest instalment in the classic series, FINAL FANTASY XV is set in an enthralling world where fantasy meets reality. Players will embark on an adventure like no other. Join Crown Prince Noctis and his comrades on an epic journey of brotherhood, love and despair as they unravel Noctis's destiny and take up arms against the warmongering empire, Niflheim. With a captivating cast of characters, breath-taking visuals, open world exploration and thrilling action-packed real time combat, FINAL FANTASY XV is the ultimate FINAL FANTASY experience for both newcomers to the series and series fans alike.
FINAL FANTASY XV will be available on the 29th November for the Xbox One and PlayStation®4 system. For more information on FINAL FANTASY XV, visit:

The NZ Fraud Film Festival is here!

The NZ Fraud Film Festival is here!

The first New Zealand Fraud Film Festival runs at Auckland's Q Theatre on November 18 and 19 November. Tickets are on sale now at the official site - and I caught up with the programmer Steve Newall (he's also the editor of to talk the festival and its topics.

What is the Fraud Festival - and how did the idea come about?
Last year Deloitte's Ian Tuke, who would later become chair of the NZ International Fraud Film Festival board, attended a similar event in the Netherlands. There, he saw first hand how a programme of carefully selected films on the topic, alongside panel discussions and opportunities for collaboration, can foster awareness and conversation on the issue. I say "a similar event", but Tuke was so impressed with the Dutch event that, rather than simply emulate it, we've entered into a partnership with the organisers. Staging the event in this way allows us to draw on their experience, and ourselves collaborate with them on making this the best possible film event, the first of what may be others around the world in years to come.

Setting out to foster awareness in the private and public sectors affected by fraud and seeking to combat it, as well as allowing the general public to attend some fascinating films and discussions, the festival will examine the drivers behind fraud as well as how it can manifest in a variety of ways and impact on both victims and perpetrators.

Over two days - one by invitation and the other open to the public on a per-film basis - and with a focus on financial fraud at its core, the Fraud Film Festival is a little different to other festivals increasingly jostling for space in that it is based around a topic, rather than a nationality or a format. I think there's something really interesting about that, and hope that our attendees over the two days feel the same way.

Those with a professional interest would do well to attend for the entirety of the festival, if they're able, while the second day lets anyone dip in film by film, with a programme designed to hopefully entice people to do so.

Have you ever been caught out by a Fraud scam or know of anyone who has - and what was it?

Apart from last night, when you complimented me on my virtual reality shooting skills, (Editor's note - Steve was playing the PlayStation VR game The London Heist when I saw him) I haven't really been caught in an instance of fraud. I've uncovered it in a former workplace, though, and am obviously aware of it affecting people I know. A family member, for instance, has been pursuing someone who defrauded them out of a substantial amount of income. For the past several years, as this has unfolded, it's been an unwelcome insight into the power of fraud to affect its victims financially and emotionally.

Looking at the themes of the films, the majority are about Dishonesty - what was the pool of prospective cinematic pickings like - and what were your criteria for inclusion?

Fraud's a common human experience. It's arguably human nature to lie, and this manifests in a range of ways throughout our lives. To take the broadest analysis, you could argue that a majority of films probably contain a fraud of some kind, but to achieve our objectives, we've largely focused on financial fraud or films that address the topics of cyber crime, dishonesty, investigative journalism and corruption. 

As I note in the programme, the motivations of, and consequences for, individuals committing fraud will be examined. The unregulated wild west of the internet will be explored. And the way our passion for sporting heroism, cinema, fine wine - and even tickling - can be turned against us demonstrated.

What that actually means, is screening seven documentaries over the two days of the festival, many of which are NZ premieres. Key to their inclusion was thinking about how a panel might be composed after each film to tease out the thematic threads and provide informed local perspective on the issues raised.

Sport gets a look in with The Captain and The Bookmaker - we've seen the effects of match-fixing scandals here in New Zealand already - what's the killer moment in the film and why's it so powerful? 

Straight to the controversy, eh, Darren? As most Kiwis will now sadly recognise, match-fixing isn't uncommon in cricket, though it remains a murky world. There's no doubting former South African captain Hansie Cronje's guilt though - he admitted it. Tracing the story of this national hero turned villain, some of the most powerful moments in The Captain and the Bookmaker stem from the juxtaposition between the public face and private crookedness - posing for on-field photos alongside Nelson Mandela one minute, breaking down in court the next.

A chance to see Tickled before it continues its path toward hopeful Oscar nomination as well - there's something insidious about both this and Dark Web with the thrall and thrill of the internet....?

Well spotted! Tickled may seem the biggest stretch of the programme, but its a shining example of investigative journalism untangling a web of lies and false identities. As we've already seen, its subject is not happy being in the spotlight and continues to use a number of methods to intimidate the filmmakers. I'm looking forward to co-director Dylan Reeve bringing us up to speed on the latest news in a post-film panel, and while I can't say I'd like further unpleasantness to happen, well, it would be interesting fodder for conversation.

Deep Web may be more immediately pertinent to internet users - aka damn near all of us - as it explores the world of bitcoin and the dark web. It's also the reunion of Bill & Ted co-stars Alex Winter (director) and Keanu Reeves (narrator) we've waited on for far too long, in my opinion. 
DisHonesty, The Truth about Lies

DisHonesty the Truth about Lies posits that we all cheat and lie in some form or another - isn't that a tad depressing or do you think there are some good learnings to come from this?

Lessons, Darren, lessons. I'm fascinated as to how and when the English language became mutilated through the use of "learnings" in business-speak. Maybe that's a doco of my own to come in the future. Look, you've probably lied to friends, family, co-workers, flatmates and so on - I have, with plenty of old-fashioned Kiwi "good, thanks" in response to a conversational "how are you?" from your barista or whatnot. 

What's interesting about this film is having a behavioural expert unpicking the basics, and drawing distinctions between commonplace white lies and more serious behaviour.

Even wine's tainted by corruption in Sour Grapes - are these people anti-heroes or are we going to walk away with contempt in our heart?

If I know you, you'll be popping straight down into your wine cellar to scrutinise your expensive vintages. Like many cons, there's something alluring about the audacious scam at the centre of this doco, but like most of the people onscreen at our festival, you're unlikely to end up on their side once seeing the damage they inflict on others.

Ultimately, what do you want people to get out of the Fraud Festival - and do you think opinions will be changed by some of the behaviour of these cinematic chancers?

Chancers is actually the title of one of the films! Well, Chancers - The Great Gangster Film Fraud. What better way to end a fraud film festival than with a doco about film fraud, I thought. It follows some folks who fraudulently obtain film production tax credits in the UK and then get caught. Their solution, to demonstrate their innocence, is to make a feature film and prove their bona fides. Problem is - they've never made a movie. I'm looking forward to this closing night film, and the subsequent panel that will see Wallace Chapman in conversation with local production icon John Barnett and entertainment lawyer - and film specialist - Tim Riley of Dominion Law.

But to answer your question as asked, I'd like to see some thinking on the themes stimulated and discussions and collaborations fostered. Fraud is intrinsically secret. We want to shed as much light on it as possible to aid in the fight to combat it.

Get more information on the films at the official NZ Fraud Film Festival site and book tickets now.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Official Call of Duty®: Infinite Warfare Live Action Trailer - “Screw It, Let's Go To Space"

Official Call of Duty®: Infinite Warfare Live Action Trailer - “Screw It, Let's Go To Space"

It's almost time guys!

And to celebrate the upcoming release of Call of Duty®: Infinite Warfare , a live action trailer's dropped

Directed by Peter Berg, the trailer follows a crew of gamers - including Michael Phelps and Danny McBride – as they escape the frustrations of Earth and launch into intense dogfights, zero-G combat and classic boots-on-the-ground action across the solar system in this epic new installment in the Call of Duty franchise.

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare launches 4 November 2016. Those who pre-order now will receive the Terminal Multiplayer Bonus Map and the ‘Zombies in Spaceland’ Pack on Day 1.

Doctor Strange: Film Review

Doctor Strange: Film Review

Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Eijofor, Benedict Wong, Mads Mikkelsen
Director: Scott Derrickson

Back in 1963, Doctor Strange joined the Marvel Universe thanks to Steve Ditko - and magic came into the world of the MCU as well as mysticism.

Marvel's Doctor Strange sees the studio taking and embracing the more spiritual edges of the Eastern mythos and putting a superhero-esque slant on proceedings.

Focussing on arrogant and talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), the story of this hero's origin is deeply rooted in tragedy after a moment of texting and using his phone causes an almost fatal accident.

Crippled by the fact he will never be able to use his hands again due to massive nerve damage, Strange heads to Kathmandu in search of a miracle. But he ends up in the sights of the Ancient One (a bald-bonced Tilda Swinton who brings gravitas and a down to earth approach to a lot of the mystical rubbish her character spouts) and slap-bang in the middle of a fight to stop the Dark Dimension taking over....

Marvel's Doctor Strange is a curious beast; a sort of "You're a Wizard now, Sherlock" Harry Potter shenanigans with some po-faced dialogue that wouldn't be out of place on a Hallmark Third Eye greeting card range (sample - Death is What Gives Life Meaning).

Throw in some time travel and some thinly sketched astral plane silliness and the final mix is a curious mish-mash that tonally gets some things right and some others wildly all over the place.

It's hard to care about the arrogant Strange, a man so contemptuously cold on his "Physician Heal Thyself" journey that you barely see what Rachel McAdams' ER doctor ever saw in him in the first place.

Don't even get me started on how badly written and under-used her Christine Palmer is  - a real shock for Marvel's relatively strong female leads and co-leads. She simply shows up as a cypher to showcase Strange's brilliance rather than feel like a fully formed character.

Coupled with some even worse written bad guys, led by Mads Mikkelsen's fish-scaled emo-eyed leader who's hell-bent on bringing the Dark Dimension to all of us, the script's wildly caught up in its paper thin ethos and preferring to concentrate on some eye-popping visuals to keep you entertained during the 2 hour run time.

In many ways, it feels like character's really taken a back seat in this Marvel outing which is a surprise. (Even though Swinton is the best part of the film, a mysterious Obi Wan-like mentor who never ascends into absurdity but transcends the material with grace and distinct presence).

A lot of the time, mysticism masquerades under the auspices of providing character development; it's almost as if you are supposed to care for these characters because they say sage and wise things. It's not a road travelled or an emotional journey experienced; a lot of it is mumbo-jumbo hokum to paper over the growing narrative cracks as those involved accept the call.

Grating and irritating is the lack of consistency over the physics and time travel, as well as the magic involved.

In the astral plane, when Strange fights off his nemeses, it's unclear when they can hit walls or travel through and they only land on solid objects when it suits. Equally, when the time travel is pulled in for narrative contrivances, you can't help but wonder why it's not used to rewind moments that have proved fatal for others.

Throwing everything under the mantle of "it's magic" just doesn't cut it; even the world of Harry Potter had rules and restrictions.

Granted, the eye candy on offer is incredible (we're not talking Benedict Cumberbatch here) as Derrickson uses Inception-style folding over and bending of city scenes to fire up some of the more magical sequences; buildings rotate and the kaleidoscopic images and stereo-scoping feel like a downtown planner's nightmarish dream. Equally, a trippy third eye opening psychedelic sequence is astonishing in its scope and visual execution, a sort of purple hazed LSD trip on speed.

But, for all intents and purposes, Doctor Strange is a very ordinary, very formulaic origin story that leans on its visuals to help disguise this fact, and becomes strangely reliant on a lot of self-aware / meta comedy in among all the po-faced mysticism to try and help move things along.

There's a nice twist on the rote formulaic CGI destruction of the world that's become so commonplace in Marvel Cinematic Universe films, but there's plenty here in this rather typical yin and yang tale that doesn't quite feel like it fires on all cylinders and it certainly doesn't leave the MCU feeling like a vast space much like Guardians of the Galaxy did.

While Marvel's confidence in the weirder elements of the MCU has taken time to come out and manifest itself in Doctor Strange, there is a feeling that this multiverse tale feels very ordinary. As the tale of the Benedictine Monk plays out, there's a strong sense of apathy sweeping over proceedings, where the strangeness of what was being embraced could have helped it soar.

In a weird way, Doctor Strange, this superhero tale is anything but super-heroic; it lacks the emotional pull of other Marvel films and sacrifices depth for sly throwaway one-liners that become a crutch as the movie goes on and the endless set up for further franchises continues.

It's not a bad Marvel film by any stretch of the imagination, but given these films have held themselves up to such strong accord and have become more enriching as they go on, the 14th Marvel film feels like it would have fitted in a lot earlier in the Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase 1 rather than being trotted out this late on.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016





AARDMAN and STUDIOCANAL today announce SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE 2 Directed by Richard Starzak (Shaun the Sheep Movie, Creature Comforts) and Produced by Paul Kewley (Shaun the Sheep Movie, The Farmer’s Llamas).  Pre-production will commence January 2017.

The world’s favourite sheep returns to the big screen in SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE 2, the sequel to his hugely successful and highly acclaimed Oscar nominated 2015 cinematic debut. Shaun and the Flock are back for another epic and hilarious journey, in what will be their biggest and most exciting adventure yet.

David Sproxton Co-founder and Executive Chairman at Aardman said: “Shaun’s move to the big screen proved such a success with audiences around the world that he and the flock are very excited to be embarking on another big screen adventure.  Aardman is partnering with STUDIOCANAL once again to produce another rip-roaring comedy, featuring Shaun and the rest of the gang in a story that takes them to even greater heights of lunacy.“

Ron Halpern, EVP of International Productions and Acquisitions for STUDIOCANAL adds:  "All of us here at STUDIOCANAL are Aardman fans.  To get to see the wonderful way they work in Bristol as they have for 40 years now through to the first SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE was an experience we will always cherish.  Luckily we get to start again with what will definitely be another film showcasing Aardman's unique humour, creativity and craftsmanship."

SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE 2 continues the production partnership with AARDMAN and STUDIOCANAL following the success of SHAUN THE SHEEP MOVIE directed by Mark Burton and Richard Starzak, which grossed $106 million worldwide and Nick Park’s highly anticipated new prehistoric comedy adventure, EARLY MAN, currently in production. STUDIOCANAL is co-financing and will distribute in its own territories, the UK, France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, selling worldwide at AFM.

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