Monday, 31 December 2018

Thanks for your support in 2018

Thanks for your support in 2018

As we hurtle toward the end of 2018, it's time to reflect.

So, thanks everyone, distributors of film, games and home entertainment for all your support in 2018.

Here's hoping 2019 is as great too!

Bird Box: Film Review

Bird Box: Netflix Film Review

Cast: Sandra Bullock, Trevante Rhodes, Sarah Paulson, John Malkovich, Tom Hollander, BD Wong
Director: Susanne Bier
Bird Box: Netflix Film Review

Netflix's latest, the post apocalyptic Bird Box, based on Josh Malerman's book, triumphs greatly early on in terms of unease and atmosphere.

However, as the story of the epidemic goes on, and regardless of how it's supposed to be a parable for motherhood, it begins to lose its way with logic falling quickly by the way side.

Bullock delivers a strong performance of survival as Malorie, a mother-to-be, whose life is changed when the first signs of an unseen epidemic land. This epidemic is so terrifying those who see it commit suicide, but as Malorie tries to survive and find a path to a safe house down a river, she finds the terrors within are as bad as those on the outside.

Flashing between timelines, Bird Box makes great fist of its premise, bringing chaos and terror in its opening gripping 20 minutes. Bier wonderfully realises the chaos and the horror of the unknown and unnamed unseen threat. Plausible, hysterical and genuinely unsettling the fear is palpable and Bullock's Malorie's sense of survival as a heroine is admirable.
Bird Box: Netflix Film Review

But as the film goes on, the slipping between narratives starts to expose some of the cracks in logic of the events around as inconsistencies begin to cripple the narrative. And an underwhelming finale doesn't help matters either. Add in the fact the future timelines more or less reveal what has happened to everyone doesn't help do anything unfortunately but rob the film of its tension.

However, Bullock's resilience as an actress comes to the fore, and she impresses throughout, imbing Malorie with a strength that's obvious from the beginning. Rhodes and Malkovich also deliver strong performances, and Hollander's unctuous turn is stunning in its calm and execution.

Ultimately, Bird Box is a claustrophobic dystopian mixed bag; it delivers on atmosphere, falls on its own sword with logic and world-building, but delivers a thrill ride that is both up and down, rather than a consistent tone throughout.

Sunday, 30 December 2018

The House With a Clock in Its Walls: DVD Review

The House With a Clock in Its Walls: DVD Review

From horror and torture-porn-meister Eli Roth comes a family horror film, produced within the stable of Amblin Entertainment, and based on the 1973 book by John Bellairs.
The House With a Clock in Its Walls: Film Review

Vaccaro is newly-orphaned Lewis, who goes to live with his uncle Jonathan (Black, in usual OTT mode, and perhaps one of the film's little disappointments) after a car accident claimed his parents.

Upon discovering his uncle is a warlock, and struggling to fit in at school, Lewis turns his attention to the world of sorcery and magic. But when Lewis raises a former wizard from the dead, hell threatens to break loose - and it's further exacerbated by Jonathan's desire to find an endlessly clicking clock within the walls of his house.

In truth, The House With a Clock in Its Walls feels like a mesh of Goosebumps and a carnival haunted house rollercoaster ride.

The House With a Clock in Its Walls: Film Review

There are some genuinely unsettling sequences set to celluloid from Roth, with the dread of the atmosphere cranked up for maximum effect. But like all of the biggest scares at a fairground, this is only material for show in a time and tested formula of good versus evil.

Partially ignoring the deeper thread of the post-traumatic stress syndrome of war (a wonderfully evocative piece hints at the turmoil facing one character, but is unexplored) in favour of more kiddy-friendly fare, The House With a Clock in Its Walls is content to avoid the issues of dealing with loss, and grief within 1950s America.

But that's no bad thing - and for a large part, the film is surprisingly entertaining, thanks to a wonderfully tart and emotionally nuanced turn from Blanchett as a witch with a tragic past. Black delivers his usual goggling eyes routine, which in truth becomes tiring midway through, and the script chooses to layer on some fart gags for puerile pleasure, which detracts from the wondrousness of what's to pass.

The House With a Clock in Its Walls

However, moments such as a pumpkin attack, and an evocation of the light of the universe are truly exciting to behold, and show that Roth, as a child film director, has enough smarts to deliver as much heart as the horrors needed to keep the tension ratcheted up.

All in all, The House With a Clock in Its Walls is a pleasantly surprising piece of family fare, that offers a tautly delivered set of purpose within its 100 minutes' run time. There's more it could have explored, and some deeper themes merely hinted at rather than fully fleshed out, but the fun parlour tricks it deploys manage to distract from the moments and themes that could have given more than just chills, thrills and silliness. 

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Land of The Giants: Complete Collection: DVD Review

Land of The Giants: Complete Collection: DVD Review

Released by Madman Home Entertainment

There's just something about Irwin Allen's early 1960s TV series that appeals.

Land of The Giants: Complete Collection: DVD ReviewFrom Lost In Space to The Time Tunnel, Allen had a way of capturing the world of fantasy with imagination, never letting FX budget constraints hold him back and ensuring the shows' key push was their narratives.

So it is with Land Of the Giants, a show that essentially has all the elements of an Allen serial and that very occasionally looks dated, in the way that old episodes of Doctor Who have lost a little of their sheen.

In this 14 disc set, over 51 remastered episodes, we follow the crew of the commercial spaceship The Spindrift, after it crashes on a remote planet similar to Earth, but where everything is 12 times larger.

Cue the over-sized props, and menacing animals that are insignificant in this day and age.

Escapism is what Land of The Giants is about as the crew are separated, captured and have to survive in this series that ran from 1968. The remastering is solid, but the special features are exceptional on this with things ranging from unaired pilot to interviews with the actors, through to stills galleries; It's as complete as it can be - though a longer documentary would be nice.

A blast of 60s nostalgia and imagination, Land of The Giants: Complete Collection is for fantasy fans only really - but that audience will be satiated by this nice complete collection.

Friday, 28 December 2018

Worst films of 2018

Worst films of 2018

2018 is nearly done, and it's been a cinematic year of relative averageness at best.

In honesty, the middling path that many films have pursued as meant they've largely been experiences of "meh" than boiling all out rage.

That said, there are some real stinkers which rise to the top of the worst of 2018, from everything which has been viewed.

Here are in no particular order, the Worst films of 2018

Second Act
Second Act

The Happytime Murders

Fantastic Beasts 2: Crimes of Grindelwald

The Breaker Upperers
The Breaker Upperers



Night School
Night School

The Predator


Fifty Shades Freed

Death Wish
Death Wish
Here's hoping 2019 is better.

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Best films of 2018

Best films of 2018

2018 has in all honesty, been a cinematic year that very much stuck to the middle of the road, and resolutely stayed there.

Most of what's screened this year has been average at best, and horrendous at worst.

Though, that said, there have been some brilliant movie moments this year, and aside from Mission: Impossible, it's great to see all of the best list is original material.

Here are, in no particular order, the best films of 2018.

Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Mission: Impossible - Fallout

The Favourite
The Guilty
Can You Ever Forgive Me?
American Animals
First Man
Leave No Trace
Leave No Trace

Three Identical Strangers

First Reformed
First Reformed

Lean On Pete

Lady Bird

A Quiet Place

The Death of Stalin

Ghost Stories

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Johnny English Strikes Again: DVD Review

Johnny English Strikes Again: DVD Review

How you will feel about Johnny English Strikes Again largely relies on how you feel about Rowan Atkinson's inept spy.
Johnny English Strikes Again: Film Review

Because, to be frank, this latest which sees English pulled out of retirement after a series of cyber attacks exposes all England's current secret agents, doesn't exactly do much to shake up the Johnny English franchise at all.

But what it does do, is allow Atkinson once again to showcase his rubber-faced propensity for physical comedy, like some kind of clown from a bygone era channeling Mr Bean and a James Bond cross.

However, much as it may pain some with its corny execution and its entirely predictable turn of plot and surprise, Johnny English Strikes Again is actually refreshingly retro in its delivery of sight gags, and silliness, both of which are dispatched by director Kerr and lead star with relative unflappable aplomb.

Johnny English Strikes Again: Film Review

The resurgence of the old school is apparent throughout, both from the physical prop based humour served up by Atkinson to a series of running gags about English being out of touch from the rest of the world - from the advent of iPhones to EVs, to gags about having to sign a health and safety release for use of a gun to a brilliantly written sequence using VR and real life, there's a real feeling of 60s Get Smart mentality about this, rather than the self-knowing, self-referential Austin Powers.

Even Harry Potter gets a nod, with English now serving as a teacher in a spy school, awarding house points for to the best little would-be spies.

And largely, thanks to the quick pace, it works - though in parts, it does feel like a series of sketches thinly pulled together by some overall plot. But you can't deny the childish glee of what transpires in Johnny English Strikes Again, only the hardest of hearts would fail to be moved by the goofy unending silliness of it all, even if it does feel like the world's moved on since the 2011 sequel, Johnny English Reborn.

Johnny English Strikes Again: Film Review

It may be a bit beneath those who can't see past their own snideness, but to be frank, Johnny English Strikes Again doesn't care for your snobbishness, or for a strong script or for the world which has turned repeatedly in its wake. In many ways, it's the antithesis of Mission: Impossible - Fallout, but ironically, both can co-exist at opposite ends of the spectrum.

It exists purely to amuse, not to score Oscars, and while it's affable and forgettable, its nostalgia for an England of yesteryear and a spy world of inherent silliness rather than Bond-style pomposity means that it feels like a cinematic cuddly jumper, well-executed and comforting - even if it does feel like an 80s TV sketch show throwback. 

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

A quick note to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Who Year.

Thanks again for the support of this website, and a here's wishing you all a brilliant festive period, whatever you're doing.
Merry Christmas

Monday, 24 December 2018

The Favourite: Film Review

The Favourite: Film Review

Cast: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Nicholas Hoult
Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Building on the comic unease that's helped Yorgos Lanthimos carve a career and saw him hit a more mainstream audience with The Lobster, The Favourite emerges late in the year as both a potential award winner and best of the year, thanks to its delicious and devilish nastiness.
The Favourite: Film Review

Set in the court of Queen Anne (Colman, delivering on multiple fronts and without ever missing a beat) in 18th Century England, it's a story of rivalry and a period piece that's clothed in black humour.
Anne is frail, and Lady Sarah (a curt and crisp Weisz) rules the country in her stead; but when her cousin Abigail (Stone) enters the court looking for work, Lady Sarah finds her world unsettled and the power dynamics changed forever.

The Favourite is a combination of a triptych of actors at their absolute pinnacle, dealing with material that's superlative.

Boiling down a microcosm of social interaction over a two hour period, filtering it through a prism of cutting dialogue and dynamics and then playing it out with gusto, The Favourite's acerbic touches make for greatly rewarding times in the cinema.
The Favourite: Film Review

Lanthimos' use of fisheye lenses and whip-pan shots within the court are dizzying and exciting, a call to arms for how period movies could be presented.

But it's his actors who make this film what it is. From the fact all of the men within the film are varying degrees of buffoons to Olivia Colman's utterly compelling turn from the start, The Favourite is a delicacy worth devouring.

Balanced with off-kilter humour, and moments that drip with double meaning, Lanthimos builds an atmosphere of uncertainty from the frailties of humanity, picking at insecurities like scabs, and exposing the wounds below.
The Favourite: Film Review

The central trio are more than worthy of praise, with the cameras lingering on moments that offer glimpses into what's bubbling deep below. This is more than a film that delights in the details, it's one which sees Stone, Weisz and Colman utterly deliver on their characters by offering so much with so little.

Colman in particular delivers a powerhouse performance of pain and conflict, as gout debilitates her and leaves her at the whims of those around her. But she has a fire too when provoked, and Lanthimos' desire to showcase it adds to the power. Stone and Weisz make for delicious sparring partners as the power dynamics shift, and the claws come out.

But The Favourite is more than a film exposing female insecurities and weaknesses; it's a portrait of strength under fire, and a towering movie that is commanding from beginning to end.

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Spider-Man: Into The SpiderVerse: Film Review

Spider-Man: Into The SpiderVerse: Film Review

Vocal cast: Shameik Moore, Chris Pine, Jake Johnson, Nicolas Cage, Hailee Steinfeld, Kathryn Hahn, Mahershala Ali, Liev Schreiber
Director: Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey, Rodney Rothman

Another Spider-Man origin movie, I hear you cry?
Spider-Man: Into The SpiderVerse: Film Review

Well, let's be honest, you've not seen a Spider-Man story like this slice of animation excellence.
Centring on Miles Morales, a mixed-race, relatively normal 13-year-old kid (voiced with heart by Shameik Moore) from Brooklyn, this computer animated tale spins a story when Morales is bit by a radioactive spider while underground with his uncle Aaron (Ali).

Things are further complicated for Morales when he sees Spider-Man killed by Kingpin (Schreiber) as an out-of-control experiment threatens Manhattan. As if that wasn't bad enough, Morales finds himself landed with another group of Spider-Men from different universes pulled into the conflict by Kingpin's quest...

If the multi-verse aspect of this film looks confusing, it's not. And to be frank, it's the least enticing part of Spider-Man: Into The SpiderVerse, a film which smashes the visual medium to pieces with originality and flair.

Using 3D animation on 2D backgrounds takes a little to get used to, but to anyone who's played anything from the Telltale Games back catalogue, the format and concept is very familiar.

Except what the directors also do is use the visuals and the tenets of comic books to induce a kind of sensory overload throughout. Visually, this film has style, and really does much to redefine the comic book animated movie genre, much like Batman: Mask of the Phantasm did years ago.
Spider-Man: Into The SpiderVerse: Film Review

It starts with a voiceover saying "Let's do this one last time," a tacit nod to how often we've heard this story, but with clever twists, that same voiceover is given a thrilling new spin.

With meta touches and cheeky nods, as well as a heartfelt ode to Stan Lee, Spider-Man: Into The SpiderVerse may lose some of its emotional way in the final run, and may be a little long, but it's a thrilling reinvigoration of a story told a multiple amount of times, and a positively dazzling reinvention of how comic book movies should be translated to the big screen.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Searching: DVD Review

Searching: DVD Review

Searching taps into the digital world we live in and the price we pay for living online.

A solid and empathetic Cho stars as David Kim, whose life is changed when his daughter goes missing. As he tries desperately to track her down, with the help of a detective (Will and Grace star Debra Messing). he discovers he knows little to nothing about who his daughter really is...

Searching has a gimmick - it's a smart digital film thriller played out with everything unfolding via a computer screen. Admittedly, the contrivances come piled high in the back third of the film, threatening to topple the house of cards that's piled high, but there's a lot to digest beforehand.

Searching: NZIFF Review

Chaganty opens with a clever digital montage of the family, a reminder of how much we catalogue online these days, and how computers are so much about our memories as well as the RAM within. In many ways, it's a digitised version of the opening of Up, but for the Facebook generation.

If the gimmick is smartly executed by digital native Chaganty, it's also humanised by Cho's performance. Anchored with a turn that's both empathetic and gripping, Cho's desperation feels real as he plays off a screen and Face time conversations. The anguish etched on his face is never over-played, and he holds the story strongly.

Chaganty spins the thread as far as he can, but the back stages of the film feel like they have piled up the coincidences a little too highly, and while the smarter technical edges have reminiscences of Kristen Stewart's Personal Shopper, Searching always constantly feels gripping when it needs to.

An outlandish twist seals the deal for Searching, but that aside, the film's desire to provide an emotional rollercoaster for the large part works - it may not be perfect, but it's a thrilling tale of the lengths parents will go to and the cautionary fact we're all slowly becoming disconnected in a digital world. 

Friday, 21 December 2018

Ralph Breaks The Internet: Film Review

Ralph Breaks The Internet: Film Review

Vocal Cast: John C Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Bill Hader, Taraji P Henson, Alan Tudyk
Directors: Phil Johnston, Rich Moore
Ralph Breaks The Internet: Film Review

Mashing elements of The Emoji Movie and a riff on friendship, Ralph Breaks The Internet's deep dive into internet nostalgia, in truth, seems more aimed at an adult audience than kids enamoured with the sugar rush of Wreck-It Ralph.

When someone breaks the controller of the Sugar Rush arcade machine, Ralph and Vanellope spring into action to try and secure the part from eBay via the Internet. But the clock's ticking and the machine faces being permanently turned off.

It's not that Ralph Breaks The Internet is a bad film - in truth, its ode to friendship and the central relationship between Ralph and Vanellope means that it keeps you engaged and makes you forget that it was six years since the last one.

But it does feel shallow and episodic throughout, with a great deal of Disney product placement within. And to be honest, it does feel like the idea of parodying the internet has already been done in many ways with The Emoji Movie - leading to a feeling that mocking viral videos, memes and internet fads feels more tired than it should do.

Central to Ralph Breaks The Internet, is a 10 minute section involving the Disney princesses which led this reviewer to feeling majorly conflicted.
Ralph Breaks The Internet: Film Review

The bastardising of the Disney canon is fair enough, but it seems unnecessarily cheap to mock the princesses who have helped the company make so much money, and have left them so ingrained in our culture. It's almost as if the meta-touches are not needed here, and some targets should be off-limits.

The messages come thick and fast at the end of Ralph Breaks The Internet, and with no subtlety whatsoever, but given one takes on the male toxicity of the internet before devolving into a Stay Puft marshmallow man / King Kong showdown, it's a nice, albeit sledgehammered, touch about bullying and the darker side of the world.
Ralph Breaks The Internet: Film Review

Ultimately, Ralph Breaks The Internet is a solid time at the cinema, albeit a forgettable one.

Its ode to friendship and letting go is commendable, but obvious from the beginning, but to be honest, Reilly and Silverman overcome such lazy tropes and obvious touches with performances that have warmth and emotional depth.

They're cool to hang out with thanks to the nostalgia and some of the gags, but the novelty may be wearing off a little quicker than expected.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Leave No Trace: DVD Review

Leave No Trace: DVD Review

A strong piece about deep connection, a symbiotism and subsequent disconnection, Granik's follow up to Winter's Bone is mesmerising in its minimalism.

McKenzie and Foster play father and daughter, Tom and Will. We first encounter them walking through the woods, and it soon becomes clear that this is where they live - to outsiders, it's less than idyllic, but for this pair, who seem unnaturally close, it's perfection.

Leave No Trace: NZIFF Review

Certainly for Tom, it appears to be all she's known - but all that changes when she's accidentally seen one day by a passer-by and authorities are alerted.

The pair are picked up by social services, and it's here problems develop for the father and daughter.

To say more about the adaptation of Peter Rock's 2009 book My Abandonment is to spoil what unfurls - and certainly, there's more of an air of mystery in this piece that eats away at you as the film goes on.

Hints are dropped both in moments of dialogue but also in actions - primarily via Foster's edginess, and the decision not to reveal everything immediately. It's this pervasive sense of mystery which soaks through Leave No Trace's DNA which makes such a rewarding watch.

What Granik achieves is a feeling of capturing the margins of society in hints rather than direct exposition and action. Coupled with two naturalistic turns from Foster and McKenzie, the film's power lies in its stillness and its sense of connection.

Initially, everything seems fine between the father and daughter - and the film's suspicions are raised by societal obsessions over motivations of why they live in the woods. It's notable that everything that goes wrong in this is due to external circumstances and intrusions - and certainly Foster's performance of internalised pain and struggle is deeply affecting.

Equally, McKenzie's turn as Tom is something else. She manages to affect great subtle change in Tom's arc, and her journey feels like the full gamut has been reached by the end. However, her confusion, occasional fiery burns, and her strength are key traits to Tom, never once overplayed and ultimately deeply empathetic.

While the film's suffused in mystery, the bond is resolutely human and co-dependant in many ways.

"How important are their judgments" is a line uttered early on, but it's one which forms the mantra of what Granik's trying to achieve here - everything is viewed from other's perspective, the inner sanctity of Tom and Will's bond subject to repeated scrutiny, and due to this, ultimately Tom's own scrutiny comes into play, setting in motion a chain of usually normal events that feel loaded with sadness.

Along with the reflection of an America split and marginalised (as briefly glimpsed throughout), Granik's pared back direction and wondrous cinematography helps Leave No Trace gain its growing atmospheric sense of dread.

But yet, Granik is also wise enough to present those from the outside world who interact with the duo as normal people, blessed with both empathy and a desire to help - making their discord and disconnect even more heart-wrenching to endure and watch.

It's compelling in extremis, and executed with such naturalistic edges, that it almost feels intrusive to watch. Very much the antithesis to Captain Fantastic, and although endowed with similar themes, Leave No Trace has a quiet power from beginning to end.

It's wondrous to behold, with much of the apparent coming-of-age tale leaving lots to unpack long after the lights have gone up and Foster and McKenzie's performances have been marvelled at.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Win a copy of Christopher Robin

Win a copy of Christopher Robin

Win a copy of Goodbye Christopher RobinTo celebrate the release of Christopher Robin, thanks to Walt Disney Pictures, and Sony Home Entertainment, you can win a copy.

About Christopher Robin

Beloved characters come out of the Hundred Acre Wood and into the city for this bighearted tale from Disney.

What to do when all-grown-up Christopher Robin loses his way? 

Winnie the Pooh and friends embark on a new adventure in which they remind him - and you - how to laugh again, for “sometimes doing nothing leads to the very best something.” 

Share the wonder and delight of this new film with your family.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Borderlands 2 VR out now on PlayStation VR

Borderlands 2 VR out now on PlayStation VR

Borderlands® 2 VR Out Now on PlayStation®VR

2K and Gearbox Software today announced that Borderlands® 2 VR is now available on PlayStation®VR, bringing the critically-acclaimed and genre-defining shooter-looter franchise to VR for the first time.
To view the trailer click the image below

Developed by Gearbox Software, Borderlands 2 VR brings the iconic world of Pandora to life like never before. Fans can virtually become a treasure-seeking Vault Hunter, grab 87 bazillion guns, and face off against the galaxy’s most charming psychopathic dictator, Handsome Jack, to free Pandora from the corrupt Hyperion Corporation.

Key features for Borderlands 2 VR on PS VR include:
  • Virtually Step onto Pandora: Step into the boots of a treasure-seeking Vault Hunter armed with 87 bazillion possible guns on a quest to line your pockets with loot and free Pandora from Handsome Jack’s clutches. Blast bandits with real-world aiming, physically punch bullymongs in the mouth, find the perfect gun inside a life-sized treasure chest, and inspect your weapons from every angle. Catch-a-Ride and race across Pandora in first-person view, and experience the thrill of a psycho running toward you with grenade in-hand yelling, “Boom time!”
  • Virtually Slow Time: Borderlands 2 VR includes new features unique to the VR experience to empower Vault Hunters in their fight against Handsome Jack. With Bad Ass Mega Fun Time (aka BAMF Time), players can use this new slow-mo ability to repel nearby enemies and literally slow the speed of the game temporarily to set up their next attack. In addition, with the option to Teleport, players can glide across Pandora as gracefully as Claptrap (if he had grace).
  • Become a Virtual Vault Hunter: Take on the role of one of four playable classes – Siren, Commando, Gunzerker, and Assassin – each with unique combat styles and updated skills that leverage the new VR functionality, including the new BAMF Time ability. Whether crushing enemies with Maya’s Siren powers, calling in Sabre Turret reinforcements as Axton, feeling the heft of dual-wielded machine guns as Salvador, or swinging Zer0’s sword into an enemy’s back, Borderlands 2 VR immerses players like never before.
  • Experience Virtual Improvements: For the first time ever, players can experience the sublime exhilaration of driving around Pandora in a first-person perspective – accelerating and steering with the joystick while aiming the vehicle’s weapons with the headset. With the use of the motion controllers and headset, players can interact with the menu systems in a new and intuitive way for the platform, easily navigating through the menus by pointing, clicking, dragging, and dropping. Players will also be able to choose their preferred movement style. Whether it’s the VR-popular pointed-teleportation approach or the classic direct movement style with joysticks, your experience should feel good for VR and true to form for classic Borderlands.
  • Get Virtually Rich: Borderlands VR brings shoot-and-loot mechanics to VR with bazillions of procedurally-generated guns and gear, each with their own capabilities and modifiers. Procedurally-generated shields, grenades, relics, class mods, and more round out your Vault Hunter’s arsenal for maximum power and mayhem.

Borderlands 2 VR is rated MA 15+ and is single-player only. For more information, please visit the official Borderlands web site, follow Borderlands on Twitter and Instagram, and join the conversation using the hashtag #BL2VR. You can also become a fan ofBorderlands on Facebook, and subscribe to the Borderlands channel on YouTube.

Red Dead Online Beta Status Update

Red Dead Online Beta Status Update 

We'd once again like to acknowledge our incredible Red Dead Online community for their continued support, patience and detailed feedbackduring this beta period. Here are some new details on the latest updates to the Red Dead Online Beta, along with a few things to look forward to:
Title Update 1.05 has been released addressing general improvements to fix game stability, save data and to address exploits.
Gold Gift: As a thank you for your ongoing support, we are awarding everyone who has played from the Red Dead Online Beta launch through this Thursday, December 20th with a gift of 15 additional gold bars. The awards will begin rolling out today and if you haven’t experienced the Red Dead Online Beta yet, play by Thursday, December 20th for eligibility. All gold bar gifts should be delivered by Monday, December 24th. Keep an eye out for an alert screen when entering the Red Dead Online Beta to confirm the gift.
Cash Gift: As an added thank you to players who pre-ordered Red Dead Redemption 2, and those who purchased either the Special or Ultimate Edition, we are awarding additional RDO$ gifts. These will be active starting Friday, December 21st and are automatically added to your player’s balance the next time you play Red Dead Online during the Beta and permanently afterwards:
* Special Edition Owners: RDO$100
* Ultimate Edition Owners: RDO$1,000
* Everyone who pre-ordered: RDO$100 (in addition to Ultimate and Special Edition gifts)
Store: Is now accessible in-game. As always, if you experience any technical issues at all with any purchases, please head to for help; and if you have any user experience issues or feedback to provide, please submit to website.
Upcoming Updates to the Red Dead Online Beta: We have been poring through incoming community input and suggestions and are working on updates for early 2019 to address many popular bits of feedback including some new anti-griefing measures in the works and other updates to improve gameplay balance. We are also working on lots of new features, modes and additional Red Dead Online gameplay content updates that we are very excited to share more about in the new year.

Thank you again to all Red Dead players worldwide for your amazing support and feedback contributions. Please stay tuned for more info in the coming weeks and months.

Kingdom Hearts III Final Battle Trailer

Kingdom Hearts III Final Battle Trailer


New Trailer Sets the Events for KINGDOM HEARTS III
Launch on 29th January 2019

SYDNEY, 18th December 2018 – Sora and friends gather for the ultimate battle between light and darkness with today’s release of the latest KINGDOM HEARTS IIItrailer.

As unexpected events began to unfold in the Disney worlds at the hands of the enemy's dark ambitions, the heroic trio of Sora, Donald, and Goofy find adventures ahead, from aquatic battles in the world of Pirates of the Caribbean to dances with the townspeople in the Kingdom of Corona from Tangled. The new footage also showcases Stitch from Lilo and Stitch as a special “link” (summon), as well as cooking-themed Ratatouille Keyblade attacks.

Footage of Kairi wielding a Keyblade, as well as heartfelt conversations between members of Organization XIII, and glimpses of Sora’s Nobody all point to new pieces of the title’s storyline.

Music for the trailer featured excerpts of the brand-new original KINGDOM HEARTS III opening theme song, titled, “Face My Fears,” produced in collaboration with internationally renowned singer-songwriter Hikaru Utada, eight-time Grammy® Award winning artist Skrillex and acclaimed record producer Poo Bear. The song will be available on 18th January 2019.

KINGDOM HEARTS III will be available for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and on Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One X on 29thJanuary 2019. For more information, visit


The Holiday-Themed Event Makes a Triumphant Return 

Sydney, 18th December 2018 – FINAL FANTASY® XIV Online players are today invited to give the world of Hydaelyn the gift of music with the return of the Starlight Celebration. The annual festive spectacular will be available for players to enjoy from today until Monday 31st December, with this year’s instalment encouraging characters to raise their voices in song!

An Ishgardian choral performance is running into a few troubles when it comes to finding singers. With time running out and options looking scarce, will players manage to rise to the occasion?

Rewards for participating in the event include:
  • Choir Costume – a hat, robe and shoes will all be awarded for completing the quest.
  • Silver Starlight Sentinel – decorate your home with this noble conifer.
  • Starlight Donuts – festive tabletop treats, because nothing says celebration like a food coma.
  • Evercold Starlight Snowman – a frozen friend that won’t melt away to decorate your home with.
  • Opened Twinkleboxes - The detritus of many happy Starlight Celebration surprises.
  • Starlight, Starbright Orchestrion Roll – to help you feel festive all the year round.

If that wasn’t enough excitement, the end of the week will see brand new details about the upcoming Patch 4.5: Requiem for Heroes revealed in the next instalment of Letter from the Producer LIVE. Set to take place on Friday 21st December at 11am GMT, viewers will get lots of new information as well as their first look at the trailer for the upcoming content.

Shadowbringers Logo

Announced last month, new expansion Shadowbringers will bring an abundance of new content when it releases in Summer 2019, including a new player race, multiple new jobs, an increased level cap up, sprawling new areas, adjustments to the battle system, as well as a variety of new battle, crafter and gatherer content. 

More information on Shadowbringers will be shared at the Paris Fan Festival event on 2nd – 3rd February, 2019, as well as during the Tokyo Fan Festival, scheduled for 23rd – 24th March, 2019. All Fan Festival events will be streamed free of charge on the official FINAL FANTASY XIV Twitch channel:

With more than fourteen million players globally, FINAL FANTASY XIV continues to deliver on the promise of bringing the best of the FINAL FANTASY experience to the online realm. The MMO recently celebrated its fifth anniversary, continuing to usher in new adventurers to the ever-growing game world.

Related Links
Shadowbringers Teaser Site:
Official Twitter: @FF_XIV_EN

Ubisoft Celebrates The 20th Anniversary Of The ANNO Franchise

Ubisoft Celebrates The 20th Anniversary Of The ANNO Franchise

Play Anno 1602 for Free at Christmas and Pre-register to Play the Closed Beta for Anno 1800 Starting January 31

SYDNEY, Australia  December 18, 2018 — Today, Ubisoft announced that Anno 1602: Creation of a New World will be available for free starting today, December 18 to December 22 on Windows PC. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the famous City-Building video game series, players will be able to discover or rediscover this flagship episode where they will be able to create a realistic and vivid world entirely based on their imagination. In addition, Ubisoft announced that the registration for the Closed Beta of Anno 1800 is now open, registered players will be able to play the game from January 31 to February 4 on Windows PC.
For the 20th Anniversary of the Anno franchise players can play Anno 1602: Creation of a New World, originally released in 1998, for free. The game is set in the Early Modern period of history and invites players to discover an island world, to colonise and expand it and to trade with other islands – along with protecting it against potential enemies. First of a long series of a successful city-building video games, Anno 1602 was a genre pioneer 20 years ago. Starting today, players can download the game on their Uplay account for free until December 22.
Moreover, players can now register to play the Closed Beta of Anno 1800 from January 31 to February 4*. Anno 1800 combines beloved features from 20 years of Anno history, delivering a rich city-building experience, including a story-based campaign, a highly customisable sandbox mode, and the classic Anno multiplayer experience. Anno 1800 will see the return of highly requested features such as individual AI opponents, shippable trade goods, randomly generated maps, multi-session gameplay, items and more.
To register for the Closed Beta click here: 

For more than a year, Anno 1800 has invited players to take part in the creation and the development of the game by giving feedback through the Anno Union. So far, more than 100 blogs have been published, 10,000 comments posted and 4 community contests organised. This collaboration between players and the studio enables the development team to shape the game and add requested community features.
Anno 1800 will be released worldwide on February 26, 2019 on Windows PC. Players who pre-order Anno 1800 will receive the Imperial Pack containing extra content for the game. Digital Deluxe and Pioneers Editions owners will have access to exclusive content including the Anarchist character**

To download Anno 1602 for free during the offer period, please visit:

Vice: Film Review

Vice: Film Review

Cast: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell
Director: Adam McKay

Employing some of the same irreverent touches as The Big Short did in its quest to explain the financial meltdown, Vice's Golden Globe nominated biopic purports to look at the rise to power of Dick Cheney.

"Or as true as it can be," as a title card shows early on.

Cutting back and forth early on, McKay chooses to start Cheney's life off as he's arrested for a DUI on a dirt road, before moving quickly to underground in the White House as the 9/11 terror attacks take place.
Vice: Film Review

It's here that Cheney's rise to power as the silent man becomes clear - he knows when to take an opportunity when it's presented.

McKay constructs a biopic which loops back and forth through Cheney's life with a vim and vigour that's initially compulsive, but ultimately settles into a degree of whiplash that keeps you engaged, but follows the non-linear approach to the story.

Bale goes method as Cheney, and ultimately settles somewhere in between his usual drawl and a Batman style growl for Cheney; but while much of his performance will be commented on because of the physicality, there's a lot going on in the eyes which gives plenty of insight into Cheney.

It has to be said McKay may let some bias against Cheney show, and there are definitely parallels drawn between worries over constitutional changes made then and potential for the current incumbent to do much the same, but Vice never loses some of the fire and outrage it's got bubbling away.

A completely irreverent credits scene 50 minutes in shows how McKay is determined to unsettle audiences, before further damning Cheney and his career choices.

Carell is impressive as Donald Rumsfeld early on, but fades into insignificance once the narrative settles on a tone. Adams impresses as Cheney's wife, proving the adage behind every man to be true, but she also brings some welcome subtlety to proceedings which ultimately end up outraging more as the film progresses.

There's a seething anger in Vice, a sign of contempt for those who ride roughshod over US politics and abuse the system to their own advantage - it's a story whose themes have been told time and time again, but McKay definitely brings his own agenda to proceedings; that's not to minimise the outrage, but when there are more restrained touches, Vice soars, even if it is aiming for awards.

Monday, 17 December 2018

McQueen: DVD Review

McQueen: DVD Review

Fashion films get a thrilling makeover with McQueen, detailing the rise and inevitable fall of Lee Alexander McQueen, the British designer who set the world alight and then burnt too brightly.

Using access to those close to McQueen, and eschewing the usual talking heads, Bonhote and Ettedgui open up the world of fashion to those who are usually turned off by such matters, and do more than enough to satiate those who adore the genre.

McQueen: Film Review

Utilising footage from McQueen's early thrilling shows, cataloguing the chaos caused by the catwalk's upturning and reinvention, the biopic builds an intriguing look at what sent such ripples through the world. But it's also smart enough to spend a bit of time building up to this, using home video footage of McQueen's childhood days as well.

It helps that Bonhote and Ettedgui give the film a pace that's compelling, but never too breathless that it strangles the flow of what's unfolding. It also benefits greatly from access that pieces together an intimate portrait of an artist, what fuels them and how that fuel is manifested in their own work.

Admittedly, there are the usual hyperbolic bon mots such as "You can't teach talent", but in among the usual trappings of a character destined for tragedy, there's also a lot to enjoy in McQueen, principally the catwalk shows, given new credence and insight by McQueen's reasoning for them - and from those who worked on them.

McQueen: Film Review

But the directors know just talking about fashion is akin to cinematically showing paint dry, so lavish McQueen with electrifying catwalk performances. Interestingly, the film, much like McQueen reaches a nadir and descent after he's taken in by the major fashion houses and in the final 40 minutes, the doco takes a turn to more dirge-like tendencies as the drugs and depression sets in and it builds toward the final act of tragedy.

It may be a little overlong towards the end, and the sense of melancholy a little stifling in among the eulogising for the tortured tragic talent, but McQueen is, for the large part, a soaring film that makes its subject and subject matter accessible to all, imbuing any who watch it with great insights into the hero of yob couture as much as it plays into the psyche of the talent. 

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