Thursday, 30 November 2017

An Incovenient Sequel: Truth To Power: DVD Review

An Incovenient Sequel: Truth To Power: DVD Review 

Cast: Al Gore, the world, Icebergs, Paris Climate Change Agreement
Director: Bonni Cohen, Jon Shenk

It's perhaps no surprise to see the climate change issue rear its head again with this sequel to the Oscar nominated An Inconvenient Truth for nearly a decade ago.

But in truth, unlike the previous film which packed a kind of urgency and a power, the latest from Al Gore's omnipresent crusade to quell climate change is, and it's no joy to report this, a self-aggrandising bore of a documentary.

Following Gore around as he jets about, takes cars and only once uses public transport (due to clogged roads), the documentary pursues Gore as he pushes once again to get those who disbelieve to believe.

In some kind of version of a Billy Graham puritannical push, the anti-climate change zealot tries desperately to convert India away from its desire to produce more coal-burning plants ahead of the Paris climate change meeting.

There can be no denial of the weather conditions and an increase in extreme weather events over the past few years, and while the science of these is glossed over in favour of footage speaking for itself (the flooding of the World Trade Centre memorial being Gore's crowning glory to naysayers who denied him in the first film)

An Inconvenient Sequel feels more like a bizarre extended 60 Minutes with Al Gore special.

With Gore given time to intone his desire to change the world and space to vocalise his "I feel I have failed" mentality throughout, the emphasis is on anything but the apparent urgent matter on hand - the climate itself.

It's more squarely focussed on scenes of Gore becoming emotionally and earnestly enraged at the futility of denials of others.

In one scene, where he's being prepped for an interview for MSNBC, the anchor promises they will cover climate after Gore's repeated reminders. It's the cinematic equivalent of the old man shouting futilely in a corner to himself.

It's not that Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk could have done much more with An Incovenient Sequel: Truth To Power.

The nadir comes when Gore's proposed 24 hour live broadcast from the Paris Agreement is interrupted by the Bataclan terror attacks, promping Gore to offer a heartfelt speech on the perils of terror.

There's a little too much of the spotlight being on Gore, and while occasionally the powerpoint presentations shock with their facts, there's little to justify a sequel.

Gore (while verging on being Al Bore at times) spends much time talking of how the first film created an uprising, and we get to see early footage of him taking some bootcamps to inspire others from his altruism.

It would have been far better for An Incovenient Sequel: Truth To Power to focus on one of these; a groundswell common approach to the problem and the crisis; it would have granted the film a more personal touch, rather than being an almost out-of-touch film that serves only really to promote Gore himself, overplay his hand in the Paris Climate Change agreements and to push one of the wettest ever recruitment videos over the closing credits.

Sadly, despite there being elements of the climate change argument that are compelling in this film, it is predominantly just a lot of hot air that fails to inspire as it should.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The Dark Tower: Blu Ray Review

The Dark Tower: Blu Ray Review

Stuck in the Hollywood machine since 2007, Stephen King's The Dark Tower seems destined to be grounded as a series based on this cinematic adaptation.
The Dark Tower: Film Review

Following Jake (Tom Taylor), a kid troubled by visions of a gunslinger and a man in black following him, and plagued by apocalyptic turns of a tower being destroyed by a beam of light, The Dark Tower sees Jake thrust into the age old fight of good vs evil.

Managing to stumble his way through a portal, Jake teams up with the gunslinger (played with melancholy and rumbling voice by Idris Elba) as the Man in Black, Walter O'Dim (an almost pantomime like Matthew McConaughey) edges ever closer to tracking him down.
The Dark Tower: Film ReviewBelieving Jake to be the mystical element to help break down the Tower and destroy the world, thanks to the purity of his Shine (a nod to previous telepathy), Walter begins an almost Terminator-like quest to track him down.

After a truly epic and visually startling opening that wrongfoots any audience watching, The Dark Tower settles for a CGI-heavy fantasy movie that lacks any kind of emotional heft or feel of consequence as it carries on its adventure.

Leaving the CGI to muddle the waters, and yet somehow still managing to fudge any kind of emotional links between any of the characters, the clearly-written-for-the-page dialogue becomes almost laughable in its portentous po-faced nature.

With voiceover and dour execution, The Dark Tower is nothing short of generic, yet somehow muddled.

McConaughey, with spiky hair, goes for slick and menacing, but somehow manages to come across as formulaic bad guy and director Arcel (best known for Alicia Vikander's A Royal Affair) can't really add much to the fantasy genre in his execution.

Elba's passable as the gunslinger, but the lack of any time to develop any kind of relationship with Jake means the film distinctly lacks the feeling of any real stakes.

It wraps up far too neatly too, giving the feeling the whole film is very much a chopped and ripped from the pages kind of affair.

The Dark Tower: Film Review

The Dark Tower may be the first of a eight book series, but based on this rote execution, and despite the efforts of Taylor and Elba to make them some kind of world-hopping mismatched buddy duo, it's unlikely to spawn any more.

For which we should all be grateful. 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Win a double pass to see Jumanji at the cinema

Win a double pass to see Jumanji at the cinema

Jumanji is back!

And to celebrate its Boxing Day release, you can win a double pass to see the new version of the classic in the cinema.

About Jumanji
Win a double pass to see Jumanji at the cinema
Jumanji hits cinemas Boxing Day

Four teenagers discover an old video game console and are literally drawn into the game's jungle setting becoming the adult avatars they chose

Stars Dwayne Johnson, Jeff Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan.

Jumanji releases December 26th at the cinema.

 To win a pass, all you have to do is email your details to this address:! Include your name and address and title your email JUMANJI! Competition closes December 16th

Una: DVD Review

Una: DVD Review

Released by Madman Home Ent

Expanded out from the 2005 stage two hander Blackbird, Una is a complex and subtle portrait that may leave an uneasy taste in your mouth after viewing.

The Una of the title is played by Rooney Mara and who starts the film heading off for places unknown after a casual toilet tryst at a club. 

Clearly in a self-destructive mood, Una's quest leads her to turn up unannounced at a warehouse, and demanding to see Ray (played by Bloodlines Ben Mendelsohn) she has on a photograph.

The two share a past and while Ray may have chosen to leave that past behind, it's clearly still propelling Una on to a more uncertain psychological future. 

With the past flitting in and out of the narrative, director Benedict Andrews proves adept at slyly swinging the pendulum throughout with neither side seeming innocent as the clinical recollections are revisited.

While Una could easily have settled for sensationalist film-making, a degree of nuance from both Mendelsohn and Rooney makes this nothing short of searing - its portrait of abuse and PTSD is as fascinating as it is appalling.

Monday, 27 November 2017

A Ghost Story: DVD Review

A Ghost Story: DVD Review

Director David Lowery's A Ghost Story is a very simple story, and yet, in parts, can be equated to Terrence Malick's Voyage Of Time.
A Ghost Story: NZIFF Review

Centring on Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara's unnamed duo, the film is the story of Casey Affleck's man who is killed in a car crash near his house. Bid farewell by Mara's character at the morgue, the white sheet drawn stiffly and quickly back onto the body, Affleck's character sits starkly up and heads back home.

Still covered in the white sheet, but with two eye holes now adorning it (akin at times to looking like an elephant as the drapes hang), the ghost stays around the house, watching Mara's character, and then when she moves on, ultimately observing those who head to their former home.

Stretched on a micro-budget and with the eeriness factor high, A Ghost Story is laced with atmosphere and a mournful tone that drags into the existential. As the Ghost wanders around, the stripped back visuals are blatantly hypnotic. Essentially just a sheet, it's somewhat intriguing to note that you end up projecting your own internal expressions onto the Ghost and there are times where you almost imagine there are tears flowing under the sheet.

Granted, there's a slow lyrical touch to the rhythms of A Ghost Story, which won't be for everyone, and a long shot of Rooney Mara's character simply eating a pie that's been delivered to her bereft home may push the limits somewhat of those who feel its artful folly.

But it's in the execution of the existential, the way it plays with structure and in its pursuit of the poignancy of loss that A Ghost Story manages to thrive, and ultimately soar. As the Ghost watches the world around him, the elegaic score and the incredible use of sound help the film to transgress its.physical limitations and budgetary constraints.

There will be some who dismiss the mood piece for its ambitions, its 1:33:1 aspect ratio and on whom the subtleties will be lost, but the brooding and ponderous piece is a singular experience. Its use of time and its execution thereof make for interesting bedfellows and provide much debate after the film's gone and finished.

If anything, A Ghost Story captures the futility and inevitability of loss, the sadness of those left behind and posits that a house is not a home without those who live within. It's an incalculably beautiful film that aches as well as it plays out, and it's utterly mesmerising.

Win a double pass to see Call Me By Your Name at the cinema

Win a double pass to see Call Me By Your Name at the cinema

To celebrate the release of Call Me By Your Name, out Boxing Day, you can win a double pass!

About Call Me By Your Name
Call Me By Your Name

A romance between a seventeen year-old boy and a summer guest at his parents' cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera.

Coming out on Boxing day.

Starring Armie Hammer.

To win a copy, all you have to do is email your details to this address: or CLICK HERE NOW! Include your name and address and title your email CALL ME BY YOUR NAME! Competition closes December 16th

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Coco: Film Review

Coco: Film Review

Cast: Anthony Gonzalez, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt
Director: Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina

It's no surprise that Pixar's latest Coco is being released on Thanksgiving in the US and Boxing Day in New Zealand.
Coco: Film Review

With its themes of family, remembrance and multi-culturalism, Pixar's latest is a timely reminder of the things that matter, all wrapped up in some truly incredible naturalistic visuals and coming-of-age story-telling.

It's the tale of Gonzalez's Miguel, a musical dreamer who's part of a family that's banished all music from their lives after one of their relatives had a musician other half who deserted them. Shaking off his destiny as a family shoe-maker, Miguel decides to borrow a guitar from Ernesto de La Cruz, the former town crooning legend and his idol.

But breaking into his tomb on Dia de la Muertos (Day of the Dead), Miguel finds himself trapped in the Land of the Dead. Tracking down his relatives, he discovers there's a way back, but time is running out.

With its gorgeous autumn hues, oranges and purples, and with a hint of darkness in its heart, Coco is a truly emotional experience.

Settling more for a slightly adult experience a la Kubo and The Two Strings and 2014's much under-appreciated The Book Of Life, Coco's rich blend of resonance is deftly and smartly executed.
Coco: Film Review

With deep reverence to the Day of the Dead festival and some drama and conflict ripped from the pages of a Spanish telenovela, Coco's message of 'Grab it tight and make it come true' is one for the ages - and for all ages.

It may be that some of the music, for such an integral part of the film, doesn't exactly shine like it should, but Coco's heart is purely and squarely on its sleeve. Tapping into the memory aspect of the Day of the Dead tradition as well as a beautiful representation of what it all means, why it's so important without turning into a cultural tolerance lecture is a great move for Pixar.

But wisely, they don't forget the slapstick - from a street dog with a giant flapping tongue called Dante to a colourful flying tiger beast that stalks Miguel in the Land of the Dead, Pixar dabbles with the darker side of the festival and proffers hints that satiate. It may be some of the darker edges do frighten younger members of the audience, however.

Maybe skewing a little older is no bad thing for Coco - certainly, the emotions are rife later in the piece when talk of being forgotten by generations on earth as the last link is severed is devastating; and Miguel's great-grandma appears to be afflicted with dementia, furthering the tragedy of forgetting. Equally one sequence within involving the last link being cut is truly emotive and yet also inspiring - this is the line Coco treads with ease and aplomb.
Coco: Film Review

Ultimately, though Coco's coming-of-age tale of tolerance and embracing your roots is a joyous and rich experience; it's one that throws in a buddy tale as well as giving you a baddie to hate on. Pixar needs to be commended for creating something different once again, and while the perks of doing so may be slightly lost and harder to come by for those seeking traditional animated fare, those willing to invest more into proceedings will find their rich reward thanks to an animated universe that, ironically, teems with life in the land of the dead.

In short, go loco for the unconventional Coco.

Coco releases on Boxing Day in New Zealand

The Man Who Invented Christmas: Film Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas: Film Review

Cast: Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Miriam Margoyles
Director: Bharat Nalluri
The Man Who Invented Christmas: Film Review
The Christmas onslaught of movies is now upon us.

And while some titles will sleigh, sorry, slay your will to live, Bharat Nalluri's The Man Who Invented Christmas is actually a lively flick that meshes Dickens with elements of Doctor Who and the Muppets Christmas Carol.

A rather madcap Stevens plays the author Charles Dickens, who's touring America on the success of his books. But in October 1843, following three flops, his career was flatlining.
Deciding to self-publish his next release and despite the financial pressure of having to provide for his family, both near and estranged, as well as a generous nature which sees him giving those less well off than himself, Dickens may have bitten off more than he can chew.

With deadlines fast approaching and ideas barely forming due to interruptions, Dickens is facing disaster....

The Man Who Invented Christmas is the kind of knock-about drama fare that laces Christmas feelings with the much beloved story of A Christmas Carol.

At times, like an author's fever dream, the script and pace races through Les Standiford's The Man Who Invented Christmas with such aplomb you worry that it won't all hold together.

Channeling elements of both Doctor Who's Tom Baker, foppishness and boggling eyes, Stevens' hyperactive Dickens feels more like literary necromancer rather than fully-formed literary genius but the titular romp certainly breathes a great degree of life into a well-worn tale.

More successful are the moments which see Dickens proffering a peek into the formation of characters which then go on to haunt him until the book's done - much like Marley's ghost and the others stalk Scrooge.
The Man Who Invented Christmas: Film Review

Plummer, as Scrooge delivers a venerable turn, managing to pull in some earnest touches on the miser; equally, Susan Coyne's script is peppered with knowing winks and nods to other Dickens' material - at one point, he meets a policeman called Copperfield.
The Man Who Invented Christmas: Film ReviewIt's these touches and the general knockabout feel of The Man Who Invented Christmas that mean it never quite outstays its welcome.

While some of the flashbacks and the daddy issues feel a little trowelled on, most of The Man Who Invented Christmas is spiffingly amusing and deftly delivered.

There's a great feel of the familiar being given a fresh once-over and while most Christmas fare can be stifling with mawkishness, Nalluri (Spooks: The Greater Good) handles it all much better than any seasonal visit from the in-laws.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

It Comes At Night: Blu Ray Review

It Comes At Night: Blu Ray Review

Balancing tension, claustrophobia and paranoia in equal measures, Trey Edward Shults' film It Comes At Night is a chamber piece for the doomsday preppers among you.

Opening with an old man struggling to breathe before he's put in a wheelbarrow and unceremoniously rolled out by gas-masked unknowns, accompanied by a red jerry can and a gun, It Comes At Night goes for the gut-wrenching right away, a veritable sucker punch to the "This could be any of you" ethos that punctuates its survivalist core.

It Comes At Night: NZIFF Review

Revealing the gas mask wearers to be a family, headed up by patriarch Paul (Joel Edgerton, bearded and downbeat), It Comes At Night zeroes in on their isolation in a house in the woods. With his wife (Ejogo) and son Travis (Harrison Jr) in tow, Paul's family unit is embedded into this post-apocalyptic world.

But when Christopher Abbot's desperate Will breaks in to their house one night, seemingly searching for supplies for his wife and child, a ticking time bomb of suspicion and mistrust is placed within this tight-knit unit.

And things are further exacerbated when Will brings his brood back to the house....

Less an outright horror, more a creeping insidious terror, It Comes At Night is perhaps more a psychological experience than a full-on fright fest.

It helps that surrendering to Shults' rhythms is the way to settle into this sedately-paced film that lies on soundtrack and palpable tension to ratchet things up. With claustrophobic close-ups and wide shots of corridors and an ominous red door in and out of the house, the dread is easily created early on.

Shults uses his weary-looking cast to ramp up an atmosphere of unease that's as menacing as it is frustrating, though an over-reliance on differently aspect-ratioed dream sequences involving Travis' night terrors punctuate way too much of this film as it unfolds.

It Comes At Night: NZIFF Review

Bleak and desolate it may be, while relying on the hoary trope of the unseen menace within the woods and that's always at arms-length, It Comes At Night uses its sparing sense of fear to reasonably terrifying effect. Dialogue propels great amounts of the implied ambiguity within as the survivalist nightmare reaches to a crescendo.

It's not exactly the kind of film which is going to leave many feeling bright and breezy, though with the reminder of a constant fear from the Doomsday Clock edging ever closer to midnight in these current climes maybe informing the NZIFF's desire to programme this, it does seem scarily prescient.
Abbott and Edgerton make for uneasy bedfellows as Will and Paul, and Travis' mixing of sexual awakening with a creeping sense of voyeurism at the new family (in particular, the wife played by The Girlfriend Experience's Riley Keough) proving to be a heady mix of uncertainty, there's more than enough to creep out those watching.

Fundamentally slow (despite its brevity and 90 minutes run time) and distinctly unsettling, It Comes At Night may prove to be a polarising film festival experience, but its quietly devastating voyage is deep-rooted in singularly human basic instincts - and is all the more terrifying for it. 

Friday, 24 November 2017

Star Wars Battlefront II : Review

Star Wars Battlefront II : Review

Platform: PlayStation 4
Released by EA

Back in 2015, there was a disturbance in the Force.

Like a billion voices screaming out at once both in agony and ecstasy as the next generation of Star Wars gaming was unleashed on the marketplace.
Star Wars: Battlefront II Review

Star Wars: Battlefront was like a candy rush; a heady experience that evaporated into a haze after the initial excitement at its graphical beauty settled down.

Blasted for the lack of a single player campaign and with servers that seemed to disappear a few months later, the game was a victim of its own success, after its servers were deserted and match-making for its multiplayer was emptier than a Death Star's crew forced to evacuate when it's revealed a squadron of X-Wing fighters is headed its way.

Now, nearly a couple of years later, and with EA having promised to change things for the better and apparently listening to people's feedback, the sequel has arrived.
Star Wars: Battlefront II Review

And once again, Electronic Arts is being likened to the Dark Side of the Force after earlier announcements proclaiming future DLCs for it would be free, but then showing in their BETA that progress could be bought with loot crates and in-game purchases.

It's no wonder that Lucasfilm stepped in, the internet went into meltdown and EA "took" the decision to suspend microtransactions - albeit it temporarily - for the game's launch.

In fact, the resulting furore has clouded the Force and its return more than it should have done and comes dangerously close to derailing the original intentions.

Because when it comes together, Star Wars Battlefront II offers the Star Wars fan exactly what they'd look for in a Star Wars game.

This time, a single player campaign has been included and is, to a degree, thrilling.

Put in the position as Iden Versio, a leader of an Imperial Special Forces group (and a female protagonist, natch), the single player campaign takes place between the destruction of the Empire in Return of the Jedi and their subsequent re-rise in The Force Awakens.
Star Wars: Battlefront II Review

But despite a fully developed story, the campaign feels little more than a simple re-ordering of a series of sequences from the game's multiplayer and thrust into a narrative structure.

While it's done seamlessly and looks astonishingly pristine, there's still a feeling that this is a piecemeal episodic entry into Star Wars canon - and despite some excellent rendering of the in-game environments, coupled with some clunky dialogue and a feeling of deja vu, it's not quite the home run you'd have expected for a much-heralded and much-desired single player campaign.

A little more successful is the multiplayer - though even this feels hampered by some own goals that could have easily been prevented.

A raft of options and maps lie in wait, though none as thrilling as the X Wing VR mission that was released last year for the original game.

The 40 player Galactic Assault was already part of the game's beta, but remains nonetheless, a compelling multiplayer experience as you hurtle around the skies on either the good or the bad side.
Star Wars: Battlefront II Review

Like any dog fight should feel, it's thrilling, chaotic and edge-of-your seat stuff. Coupled with the chance to get lost in simply settling some grudges or following the game's various missions, it's exactly how you'd imagine feeling if you were part of the Star Wars universe.

Handling of the craft is perfect and the FX and screeching of the engines as you soar through the skies is second-to-none.

It's almost as if you're in the skies, fighting for your life and being carried along by the adrenaline alone.

Not quite as successful in this though is the chance to be a squad, supposedly giving you the option to double your points if you team up together and achieve what's needed.

There's yet to be a team up event that's worked with other players simply heading off and doing their own thing, essentially making a mockery of what EA clearly had wanted.

And plenty of these games have an inevitable points-grabbing feel, rather than a cohesive aim that results in the grandiose feeling of a team victory.
Star Wars: Battlefront II Review

With the "Plays of the Game" awards handed out after every match, it's hard to shake a feeling that people are simply after feathering their own nest and furthering their own collective gains.

Progression, star cards and the inevitable loot boxes all hamper Star Wars: Battlefront II from soaring. While EA says it's working on these issues after feedback, it still feels like more of a cash grab aimed at trying to get those who'd rather get a quick fix of skill than an earned reward from a well-trodden journey.

There's plenty of that feel of grind within the game and it does mar what could have been a truly exceptional experience.

That's the thing with Star Wars Battlefront II - it feels more like a disposable Star Wars experience, rather than a fully-formed Star Wars game.
Star Wars: Battlefront II Review

It's an excellently rendered collection of curated content, scenarios and different modes of battle guaranteed to satiate any devotee of Lucasfilm.

But it never quite feels like the Force has fully aligned again this time around.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Free Trial Starts Today

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Free Trial Starts Today

Today we’re happy to announce a free trial for Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. Players can now download the free trial on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC and play through the entire first level of the game. Should players choose to upgrade to the full version of the game, their save data will carry over. 
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Free Trial Starts Today

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus launched on October 27 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, to widespread praise from the critics and community. Wolfenstein II has also been nominated in several categories for The Game Awards, including Best Game Direction, Best Narrative, Best Action Game and Best Performance (Brian Bloom as BJ Blazkowicz). 

Wolfenstein II sends players to Nazi-controlled America on a mission to recruit the boldest resistance leaders left. Players will fight the Nazis in iconic locations such as small-town Roswell, New Mexico, quarantined New Orleans, and a post-nuclear Manhattan. Armed with an impressive arsenal of fully upgradeable retro sci-fi weaponry, including the all-new Dieselkraftwerk, players can unleash new abilities to blast through legions of advanced Nazi soldiers and ├╝ber soldiers in this definitive first-person shooter. 




SYDNEY, 22nd November 2017 – The expanding FINAL FANTASY® XV Universe casts its line into the world of virtual reality with today’s release of MONSTER OF THE DEEP: FINAL FANTASY XV, a brand-new VR experience for the PlayStation®VR system. Based on the mini-game from FINAL FANTASY XV, this new downloadable content invites players to head out on an angling expedition with crown prince Noctis, his companions Ignis, Prompto and Gladio and other familiar faces across picturesque locales.

Players can put their fishing skills to the test in Story Mode, which places them in the middle of an exhilarating, action-packed showdown with a menace lurking in the depths, or take in the sights, sounds and scenery of Eos through a variety of challenges in Free Fishing mode. With 13 different rods to use, 61 lures to choose from and over 100 varieties of fish to catch, players can look forward to a gratifying journey ahead to becoming Eos’ greatest Lord of the Lures.

Now in GTA Online: Hunter Attack Chopper, 16 New Transform Races and More

Now in GTA Online: Hunter Attack Chopper, 16 New Transform Races and More

Now in GTA Online: Hunter Attack Chopper, 16 New Transform Races and More
Calling the FH-1 Hunter an attack helicopter might be misleading, because this thing is in a class of its own. Its unique rocket barrage alone is enough to eviscerate an army of foes, and that’s before you consider your buddy's contributions at the helm of the gunner-operated Turret. Can you hear it? The sweet cacophony of exploding aircraft and Homing Missiles whizzing through the sky. Your enemies should be so grateful. Pick up your FH-1 Hunter today from Warstock Cache and Carry.
A whopping 16 new Transform Races have arrived in GTA Online, serving up more thrills and spills for those willing to risk life and limb for glory. Competing in any Transform Race between now and November 27th will also grant you Double GTA$ & RP, so hit the Stunt Tubes and earn big while you can.
To get right into to any of the new Races, hit the links below to bookmark them on Social Club and get instant access the next time you hop in game. From the game, tap the boot button from the loading screen or hit any one of the Transform Race Series icons scattered across the map to jump directly into a Series featuring these new Transform Races:
Whatever you make of Jock Cranley's politics, we can all agree that stunt jumping in Southern San Andreas wouldn't have been the same without his trademark, bulge-hugging attire. Grab yourself a piece of history with the White Jock Cranley Jumpsuit - a free in-game unlock for all who log in to GTA Online between now and November 27th.
Give your fleet of racing vehicles an edge or simply satiate your lust for petrol and burnt rubber with these discounts on cars and automotive upgrades, going on all week long. And be sure to stay tuned for some big discounts coming later this week for Black Friday.
  • Progen Tyrus (Super) – 25% off
  • Dewbauchee Rapid GT (Sports) – 25% off
  • Engine Upgrades – 25% off
  • Handling Upgrades – 25% off
  • Brakes – 25% off
  • Transmission – 25% off
  • Turbo – 25% off
  • Suspension – 25% off
  • Spoilers – 25% off
Prepare to slam that throttle in this week's scheduled Premium Race and Time Trial events. Through November 27th:
  • Premium Special Vehicle Race - "Redneck" (locked to Rocket Voltic)
  • Time Trial - "End To End"
Launch Premium Races through the Quick Job App on your in-game phone or via the yellow corona at Legion Square. The top three finishers will earn GTA$ and you'll get Triple RP regardless of where you place. To take a shot at the Time Trial, set a waypoint to the marker on your in-game map and enter via the purple corona. Beat par time and you'll be duly rewarded with GTA$ & RP.

The Stolen: Film Review

The Stolen: Film Review

Cast: Alice Eve, Stan Walker, Graham McTavish, Cohen Holloway, Richard O'Brien, Jack Devonport
Director: Niall Johnson

The NZ set Western has had middling success so far.

From the enigmatic Slow West to the downright average Good For Nothing, it's a genre that clearly has some legs in.
The Stolen: Film Review

Hoping to cash in on that, are Niall Johnson and writer Emily Corcoran, who've used the Canterbury coasts as their backdrop to the story of Alice Eve's Charlotte Lockton at the end of the 19th Century.
Relocating out to New Zealand with her husband and being trained to use weapons to survive in the wilds, Charlotte gets a rude awakening when they're robbed at midnight, her husband killed and her 3-month-old son kidnapped.

Receiving a ransom note 3 months later with a picture of her son, Charlotte sets out on a dangerous mission to rescue him.

Less Unforgiven, more unforgiveable, The Stolen's problems come from a patchy script, some wooden dialogue and some truly underwritten characters.

While the countryside looks great and Johnson makes great fist of the juxtaposition of both the rugged terrain and the contrast of Eve's porcelain English rose look.
But it's not enough to make parts of the film feel like a slog - even for a relatively short 90 minute run-time.
The Stolen: Film Review

The tarts-with-hearts that Charlotte journeys across town with are given the most broad-brush cursory backstories with which to work and consequently, there's little to engage with when the inevitable peril sets in.

Chiefly Stan Walker feels majorly under-utilised and predominantly bookends the film with a character that suggests there could have been much more.

Richard O'Brien's Irish barkeep is another oddity in a film which mixes so many different accents in, you can be forgiven for thinking it's not set in New Zealand.

Complete with overbearing OST that blasts out any moment and drowns its emotional edges, The Stolen feels like it's punching above its weight.

Ultimately, with an improbable twist set down in the final furlong, The Stolen's whole feeling is one of something that's betrayed the promise of its mightily impressive premise.

It's disappointing as the setting and the story idea, which could have been better propelled along by revenge and a smash-the-streotype-female lead feels more like it's been squandered.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Big Sick: Blu Ray Review

The Big Sick: Blu Ray Review

Cast: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter
Director: Michael Showalter

With a strong footing in truth, The Big Sick's rom-com cum cultural clash love story has rightly sent the genre back into fresher territory.

The Big Sick: Film Review

Silicon Valley's Dinesh aka Kumail Nanjiani stars as a version of himself in a story ripped from his own life.

Wannabe stand-up Kumail is working in a club one night, when he's heckled by Zoe Kazan's Emily. Intrigued, Kumail ends up striking a relationship with her after the show. Despite trying out an awful chat-up  line with Emily, the pair connect and end up in an easy relationship.

However, what Emily doesn't know is that Kumail's Pakistani family is trying to set him up with other women in an arranged marriage, via a series of dates which happen at family meals. (In one of the more excruciating touches, the women his parents have selected for him just happen to drop by during meal-times for an appointment.)

When this revelation hits the pair, Emily splits from Kumail, leaving him devastated. But things get worse when he gets a call to say Emily's seriously sick in hospital...

In many ways, The Big Sick is your typical romantic comedy.

Boy meets girl, boy falls for girl and problems and obstacles persist in the course of true love. So far, so tried and tested formula.

The Big Sick: Film Review

However, what The Big Sick brings to the table is a large degree of freshness, some genuinely funny moments and some sweet insights into the cultural clashes which are, of course, inevitable.

And really, at its heart, this is not a film that defies convention.

In fact, the only defiance is Kumail's insistence on going against his family wishes and avoiding spending time praying in the basement, choosing instead to play games on his phone, until his allotted time has passed.

Yet, being grounded in so much truth and veritas, (unsurprising as it's ripped from Kumail Nanjiani and Emily's real life romance), what The Big Sick manages to do is breathe some life into a genre that's been stale for a while and subverts expectations of those going into it.

Nanjiani brings his usual deadpan flair to the delivery, but thanks to a cleverly written script that fizzes with life and reality, there are some truly amusing moments. Mainly due to the ease of banter between the two and a slight subversion of the usual gags you'd expect about cultural stereotypes.

From a great gag over Kumail's Uber-career to the genuine warmth these two share, there are very much the signs that The Big Sick is keen to inject some humour where it's never been before.

It's not entirely perfect though.

The Big Sick: Film Review

At just a shade over 2 hours, there could have been some excising on the script front (a slew of comedy bar scenes seem a little unnecessary) to ensure the perfect mix, but it's a minor complaint.

The other interesting angle The Big Sick brings is that at its heart, it's a two-pronged relationship comedy.

Not only does Emily and Kumail's relationship take up the time on screen, but there's also a large amount of the film which is devoted to Kumail's relationship with his potential in-laws, played by a terrier-like Holly Hunter and an easy-going career best Ray Romano. There is also the battle between Kumail's family and their desire to do right by tradition and his desire to break away from that. (Interestingly, the final resolution doesn't quite provide all the answers and really does feel like there are more questions than answers.)

As Emily's parents battle their wariness and try to protect their daughter from the indirect charm offensive launched by an awkwardly bashful Kumail, what also emerges is profoundly sweet and utterly charismatic despite its inevitable outcome.

There's a great deal of earnest charm about The Big Sick and it's difficult to be profoundly cynical against its intentions. But in crafting a rom-com that's genuine and earnest, The Big Sick succeeds in being a genre best and ensures the entirely over-stuffed category is given a new lease of life. 

Madame: Film Review

Madame: Film Review

Cast: Toni Collette, Harvey Keitel, Michael Smiley, Rossy de Palma
Director: Amanda Sthers

Trying to blend Cinderella with an attempt at insight into a decaying marriage doesn't quite reap the rewards it should for Amanda Sthers writing and directorial attempt, Madame.
Madame: Film Review

Holding a dinner party for the London Mayor in Paris, pressed Anne (Collette, tart and relatively convincing as haughtiness gets the better of her) forces her maid Maria (de Palma) to step in as one of the guests, fearing 13 at the table is an unlucky number.

But thrust into a world she can only comprehend through servitude, Maria catches the eye of the family art appraiser (Smiley, a welcome presence on screen and a sign that Europe has a differing eye on romantic leads).

As the two grow closer, the lies have to be maintained, but Anne finds her tolerance for the charade shrinking as Maria finds her heart opening to he possibilities of love and life beyond her downstairs role.

Sthers may scatter her film with contemporary references such as Brexit and Aung San Suu Kyi  but her attempts to make something timeless sees her hoist by her own petard.
Madame: Film Review

Madame is not a film that feels for farce or grasps at depth; it feels in some ways incomplete and woefully undercooked in places. Certainly an ending frustrates, even if some may consider it inherently French. 

The trouble is that while Sthers peppers her film with the French approach to offering both unconventional romances their time in the sun and some kind of commentary on what makes France so appealing, its deployment fails to engage and indulge either the sense or the heart.

Ultimately, Madame is more a film that starts off familiar, offers fresh eyes on a tired story but then fails to utilise its differing USP for anything other than the fanciful.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Atomic Blonde: Blu Ray Review

Atomic Blonde: Blu Ray Review

Cast: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Toby Jones, John Goodman, Eddie Marsan, Sofia Boutella
Director: David Leitch

Atomic Blonde: Film Review

Blazing style clearly over substance, Atomic Blonde's Cold War story breathes a chill over proceedings.

Whether it intends to or not is another matter.

Theron stars as Lorraine, a hard vodka drinking super spy who starts the film being debriefed by her boss Eric Gray (played with the usual brilliance by Toby Jones) and a CIA stooge (a bearded John Goodman).

Tasked with tracking down a list that could hold a complete breakdown of every spy and their alibis, Lorraine meets her contact David Percival (played with relish and energy by James McAvoy) in Berlin at the fall of the wall.

However, unsurprisingly things start to go wrong and soon Lorraine is in the cross hairs...

Atomic Blonde: Film Review

Trading more off a killer soundtrack that includes iconic tunes of the era like New Order's Blue Monday or Father Figure from George Michael, Atomic Blonde sadly lacks the moves to fully convince in this ripped-from-a-graphic novel.

There is one singularly impressive fight sequence inside an abandoned house that seriously showcases some incredible choreography and some impressively desperate close hand combat. Stripped of any OST or reliance on cool tunes to punctuate its narrative or execution, the grunting and bone-crunching fight stand alone of anything else this year.

But despite Theron's commitment to the icy blonde she inhabits and the fact she looks like a Debbie Harry clone thrown deep into the spy world, Atomic Blonde feels hollow, an exercise more in precise cool than a precision film of the spy genre, packed with twists. 

Atomic Blonde: Film Review
Once again, it's a film that has a commitment more to its origins than its cinematic execution, its pop stencil ethos and its desire to be cripplingly cool, ripped as it is from the Oni Press graphic novel series "The Coldest City"

It's not without merit; it's more that outside of its one truly raw and gritty fight sequence, it feels more of a hollow disposability than anything else. There's certainly little to cling on to after the lights have gone up - which is a real shame, given that Theron's a great actress and a female action lead of this calibre rarely comes along in a relatively mainstream Hollywood release.

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