Monday, 20 August 2018

Win a copy of Samurai Jack The Complete Series

Win a copy of Samurai Jack The Complete Series

Samurai Jack: The Complete SeriesTo celebrate the release of  Samurai Jack The Complete Series on home release, thanks to Madman Home Entertainment, you can win a copy.

About Samurai Jack

From Genndy Tartakovsky, creator of Dexter's Laboratory and Star Wars: Clone Wars, comes the tale of a young samurai cast far into the future by the evil shape-shifting wizard Aku. 

Join Samurai Jack on his quest to return to the past and undo the destruction that Aku has wrought upon the land. 

With award-winning artwork and intricate, action-packed plots, the many journeys of Samurai Jack are a must for any fan's collection.

To win all you have to do is email your details and the word SAMURAI to this address: or CLICK HERE NOW!

Competition closes August 30th

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Breath: Blu Ray Review

Breath: Blu Ray Review

A typical coming-of-age tale told in a slightly atypical fashion, former The Mentalist actor Simon Baker steps behind (and in front of) the camera for this adaptation of Tim Winton's book.

Centring on two kids, Pikelet and Loonie (Samson Coulter, sensitive and thoughtful and Ben Spence, instinctive and amusing) growing up in Western Australia in the 70s, Baker's Sando serves as mentor to the duo, helping them take in the waves.

But Sando keeps pushing them to go further, despite the condemnation of his other half Eva (Elizabeth Debicki, in waif and distant form) - however, Pikelet's reticence tests the boundaries of friendship with Loonie and his mentorship with Sando, as well as his own family unit.

Breath is an intriguing piece, simultaneously feeling distant in some of its narrative parts and yet frighteningly cohesive in others, and after reflection.

Perhaps consisting of one too many slow mo surfing or at water shots, Breath can be forgiven its indulgence in the waves of the ocean, thanks to some truly impressive water shots by cinematographer Rick Rifici. Pulsing waves are shot from below the surface, each one bubbling by and each showing the tumult in the relationships; the symbolism is not lost.

Elsewhere, some narrative threads feel a little unexplored; a potential school girlfriend for Pikelet is more dalliance and distraction and family tensions are hinted at rather than endorsed further.

Breath: NZIFF Review

But it's herein that lies the rub for Breath. On reflection after the lights have gone up, these relationships are explored in the way a teenager may approach them - distance helps evaluate what's transpired and why it's that way. Certainly, the relationship between Eva and Sando appears an odd one, a couple of lost souls who've found each other and are ebbing in and out like the flow of the ocean - there's much in Winton's prose that hints and there's much in Baker's restrained direction that offers deeper connections when probed.

In the relationship between the sensitive Pikelet and the gregarious Loonie, Coulter and Spence gel well, each pushing and pulling the tensions where necessary; feeling naturalistic in many ways, and evocative in others, this is a relationship that needs no deeper dissection; it breathes on its own and works well because of it.

"I've never seen men do something so beautiful, so pointless and so elegant" intones Pikelet in his later years - but in many ways, he could be hinting at the relationships that come from growing up; in caressing the tensions, and the triumphs of youth and friendships, Breath inhales deeply on its intensity and strips away its own profundity in places.

Breath is at once a complex beast at times, and yet one that feels familiar and simple, elegiacally executed - in many ways, it's one film that demands further introspection and re-examination. 

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Avengers: Infinity War: Blu Ray Review

Avengers: Infinity War: Blu Ray Review

Avengers: Infinity War: Film Review

With a cast list as long as the page count of War and Peace, and capping a decade of Marvel films, it apparently has all led to this.

After numerous teases, various hints and gradual reveals, the Avengers, still ruptured after Civil War factions and broken by various continual conflicts, now face their greatest threat - Thanos (Josh Brolin).

A despot of intergalactic infamy, and emerging from the cosmic shadows, Thanos is collecting six Infinity Stones, aka the McGuffins of the franchise which have been glimpsed before.

With the Avengers and their various allies determined to stop Thanos and his army waging war on reality, it looks like this is the battle to end all battles - the fate of Earth, the Avengers collective and existence itself has never been more uncertain.

After countless build ups and the growing feeling that the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise has become stale with comedy elements undercutting any sense of drama, there's a real feeling that Avengers: Infinity War has to draw a line in the sand, and lay down some stakes for all involved.

Avengers: Infinity War: Film Review

For a large part, Avengers: Infinity War walks the tightrope of uncertainty for all the characters you've come to love (thanks to repeated over-exposure over the past decade) and imbues proceedings with an occasional sense of dread for some.

However, the writing keeps a lot of it emotionally grounded with themes of sacrifice and human selfishness and fallibility mingling and bubbling away throughout thanks to some briefly engaging interactions.

But it has to be said, that doesn't stop Avengers: Infinity War from becoming, at times, Avengers: Infinity Bore - nor does it feel like some of the inherent emotional heft falls flat.

With its straight-into-the-action-and-peril proceedings picking directly up from the end of Thor: Ragnarok and the Asgardian survivors facing off a ship from Thanos, the film decides to simply settle a lot of proceedings on the punch-fight-exposition-fight-exposition-fight method.

It's well executed as it bounces around the globe and into space, but there's definitely an over-riding feeling of weariness as the relentless CGI action kicks and smashes its way through (and certainly, a couple of scenes creak under the weight of being generated and rendered).

Avengers: Infinity War: Film Review

It tries to fights the curse of quite obvious writing in parts with lots of patently obvious signposting (all of which are too spoilery to discuss) and doesn't quite succeed at times, and there's definitely a feeling of set-up throughout.

As a sense of spectacle, Avengers: Infinity Wardoes deliver what the rabid Marvel fanboys want - a team up of epic proportions and scale and the Russo brothers deliver it mostly with considerable aplomb. Handling the unwieldly character roster with ease, most of the cast get a moment or some time in the spotlight (albeit with brevity and largely through a fight scene or two - and certainly Hulk's reunion with Black Widow is a massive disappointment), and it's a relative reward for the decade of set-up.

The Guardians provide the obligatory (and occasionally annoying) laughs as usual after entering to Rubberband Man, but teeter dangerously close to ripping the stakes' foundations from under proceedings with their flippancy. And disappointingly, Wakanda's involvement feels piecemeal, rote and written to provide a Phantom Menace fight redux sequence in the final act.

Avengers: Infinity War: Film Review

However, it's Brolin's motion capture Thanos who impresses most in Avengers: Infinity War.
Built up as a major threat in the preceding films, Thanos is a relatively complex and solid villain with the emotional depth and degrees of tragedy which give weight and heft to proceedings and parts of his motive. This is the villain the Marvel Cinematic Universe has needed and the threat that comes from him is as tangible as it is terrifying.

There is a feeling though throughout Avengers: Infinity War that death should have come knocking a bit more and certainly for some of the bigger names within the ensemble to truly hit the emotional mark, and while the oddly audacious but curiously emotion-free downbeat ending is to be lauded, it does reek of the usual tropes of the genre - ie fantasy deaths never really tend to stick, and slightly feels like a quick "this can be done over" in the next film - and certainly, there is a distinct lack of feeling permeating the screen.

Epic in popcorn entertainment and scale, but disappointingly limited in parts of its narrative, the at-times soapy and occasionally narratively uneven Avengers: Infinity War may feel like Marvel's trying to clear the table in lieu of the next phase, and setting up for the next one. (Though the time to be daring and dispatch with the post-credits sequence has been squandered with this one).

It possibly could have done with easing up a little here and there, and giving space to breathe, however, in terms of rewarding the fans of the franchise, Avengers: Infinity War certainly ups the game, even if it still doesn't really take the bold chances and daring gambles it could have easily afforded to after a decade and 18 films. 

Friday, 17 August 2018

The Darkest Minds: Film Review

The Darkest Minds: Film Review

Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Harris Dickinson, Skylan Brooks, Gwendoline Christie
Director: Jennifer Yuh Nelson

Take a pinch of Young Adult, a snip of The Host, a snifter of The Hunger Games, sprinkle liberally with a shoe-horned romance, mix in some young X-Men, drop in some elements of Avengers: Infinity War, top with a hint of everything-you've-seen-before-in-this-genre and you've got new film The Darkest Minds.
The Darkest Minds: Film Review

Set six years after children mysteriously started dying and survivors were considered worthy only of rounding up and putting in camps, The Darkest Minds stars Stenberg as Ruby, a teenager who's broken out of a camp, thanks to the help of a mysterious doctor (Mandy Moore).

But unsure whether to trust her, Ruby ends up on the run with conveniently-nearby-hidden-kids Zu (who can control electricity), Liam (telekinesis to go with wooden good looks) and brainy Chubs (looks like a Fresh Prince cum Dope extra).

Searching for a utopia for the children who survived, Ruby and the gang are hunted from all quarters.

Frustratingly, The Darkest Minds has some potential.

Complete with a soundtrack clearly aimed at its audience of YA readers, and adapted from a book by Alexandra Bracken, it knows what it wants to do - even if it feels like a patchwork mesh of every YA film you've ever seen. (Those for those exposed to it for the first time, it could become something,
thanks to its diverse leading cast).
The Darkest Minds: Film Review

But rushing through dramatic edges, shoehorning narrative elements in and giving them nary a second to breathe or dispatching them with a laissez-faire approach does little to build this first outing into any kind of franchise.

It's even worse with the cursory way threats are tossed aside, having built them up to be something substantial. Matters are not helped by an obvious villain and some truly wooden acting when emotional clashes come to the fore.
The Darkest Minds: Film Review

Perhaps the greatest crime of the YA mesh with X-Men is how the film doesn't really resolve itself, preferring to dangle narrative elements for potential sequels and leaving to a feeling of frustration in the film's denouement, where poignancy and emotional heft should have done the heavy lifting.

There's potential for darkness here, and perhaps the target teen audience would have appreciated some truth (shots of kids being executed are truly chilling) but rather than build dystopia, The Darkest Minds is content solely to play it too safe to be relevant or compelling.

Rampage: DVD Review

Rampage: DVD Review

Rampage: Film Review
There is only so far Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's charisma and endless muscles will go - and his latest flick, Rampage where he re-teams with San Andreas director Brad Peyton, sorely tests that.

Johnson plays Davis Okoye, a former species forces cum animal saviour who's now a primatologist.
Bonded with a white silverback gorilla called George (and who gets a brief back story flashback later in the piece), Davis finds his world rocked when a science experiment from space causes his friend to change from gentle Curious George Harry and the Hendersons' beast to roaring destructive angry King Kong type.

Things are further complicated when the evil corporate bigwigs, who created the genetic editing process, want their DNA back and hatch a plot to get the creatures back to the city.

In a race against time to save his bud, and with a shady government agency on his heels, headed up by a hammier friendlier version of The Walking Dead's Negan himself Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and a former genetic scientist (007 star Naomie Harris) in tow, Davis has it all to do.

Rampage: Film Review

Based on the 1980s video game where monsters menaced the city and picked off human armies, Rampage shows clearly its video game edge - ie little to no cohesive plot, scrabbling from one section to the next without any care for logic or anything to trouble the brain.

The problem with Rampage is that if you're expecting dumb, you'll get it in spades.
If you want some god-awful dialogue thrown in there as well (Morgan's agent spouting the line that "When science shits the bed, I'm the one called in to change the sheets" being the worst), then you'll be happy.
And if you simply want to see a bit of rote CGI monster smash city / Kaiju fight, you'll be satiated, but not satisfied.

Rampage, despite Johnson's usual charisma as he plays Dr Doolittle and beast bestie, is just not enough of anything to warrant much more than dumb.

Characters are woefully underwritten (step forward, Naomie Harris' expositionary scientist) and the bad guys are laughably paper-thin, but Rampage tries to take itself too seriously, when really it should just embrace the stupidity of what its premise is. 

There are signs that it does this in the end, with Johnson rolling out his action jackson figure that we've all been expecting, but it comes too late in the day to really resonate.

WETA Digital's work with George is, as you'd expect from the Apes trilogy, stellar; but their work on the other creatures, while homage to the original villains of the game, stands out as looking a bit wobbly in places and less realistic than it could be.

Rampage: Film Review

Ultimately, and unfortunately, Rampage is not quite the popcorn thrill it should be - while it's at heart, a mash up of buddy movie and monster flick, the B-movie pretensions are what hold it back. It may be as dumb as a bag of spanners, but it's not smart enough to use that to its strength.

By refusing to embrace fully what it could be, Rampage goes from being a slam dunk to a film that shows that not everything Johnson touches can turn to gold, even if he coats it all in a few knowing nods here and there. 

Thursday, 16 August 2018

Happy End: DVD Review

Happy End: DVD Review

Michael Haneke returns to the festival circuit with something purporting to be lighter fare than his usual, but still with some of his usual concerns.

Centring on a construction dynasty and their gradual unravelling, a truly stellar cast taking on various roles as the Laurent family.

When the company's rocked by the ground giving way at a venue (an allegory much to be applied to the family itself), the various pressures on the Laurent clan become apparent. Combined with a suicide attempt from a family member and a patriarch determined to go on his terms, there's a lot to deal with for them all...

Happy End: NZIFF Review

Happy End may be a comedy, but it seems to have forgone the laughs for something a little bleaker.

It's really only in its last 10 minutes that the humour seems to come to the fore and the film adds a few lighter touches. Described as a satire on bourgeois values, Happy End is a little lacking and frankly, in places, a touch dull as things happen off screen which are supposed to be of emotional consequence and leave you frustrated at what to cling on to.

With swathes of time devoted to a chatroom conversation in its full pixel glory, there are times when Happy End can sorely try your patience.

Where it not for Isabelle Huppert's calm composure, Toby Jones' presence and a searing turn from a young newcomer Fantine Harduin as a child entered into the dynasty, this would be sorely close to walk-out territory.

Haneke may be playing with some familiar themes of suicide and euthanasia, and there are some moments blessed by a scion of precision dialogue, but Happy End's wide varying eye means that it rarely feels like it settles on one subject for long enough for you to emotionally engage with. 

The Spy Who Dumped Me: Film Review

The Spy Who Dumped Me: Film Review

Cast: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Gillian Anderson, Sam Heughan
Director: Susanna Fogel

Mixing a bit of raunchy comedy with some spy action and bundling it up in the usual Kate McKinnon schtick actually works reasonably well for The Spy Who Dumped Me.
The Spy Who Dumped Me: Film Review

Kunis stars as Audrey, newly 30 and dumped by her boyf Drew (Theroux, in casting mode for a Bond style role). After a night out with her BFF Morgan (McKinnon, once again killing it with ad-libs and goofiness), Audrey finds herself thrust into the middle of a conspiracy and on the run in Europe.

On her tail is Sebastian (Outlander's Sam Heughan, a little stiff here) who may or may not be trustworthy and a group of eastern European agents...

The Spy Who Dumped Me has some funny touches.

Its opening gambit mixes some pretty impressive spy shenanigans with Theroux taking centre stage before it collapses into a style over substance type global jaunt that hops around with nary a concern for its admittedly flimsy central plot.

It's grating because the spy elements of the film feel secondary to everything else, and given this is the hook the comedy's predicated on, as the film propels itself through its nearly two hour run time, these are the parts which stand out more - and certainly in the beats of the finale, degrees of apathy have set in.
The Spy Who Dumped Me: Film Review

Fortunately, the whole thing is genuinely saved by both Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon.

Their BFF-ship is joyous to behold and the bond of sisterhood is there for all to see, rather than being spun out in an empowerment message aimed at cloying sentiment (though parts of sentiment creep in at the end.)

It works because of the genuine laughs proffered by the duo, whether it's McKinnon spitballing under Fogel's direction or Kunis playing her patented mix of naive and naughty as the stay-at-home who's starting to come out of her shell.
The Spy Who Dumped Me: Film Review

Throughout The Spy Who Dumped Me, this is the one takeaway - when a female comedy is done right, it's fresh, bright and breezy. And thrust into a genre that's primarily been a man's world for far too long, Kunis and McKinnon soar and show no signs of fatigue. Whilst there's no hint there could be a sequel (other than a post credits scene which hints at it) it has to be said that a second outing with this pair would be no bad thing - it's just if they do team up again, more work needs to be done with the spy shenanigans, because given the right script, these could be spies to love.

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Life Of The Party: DVD Review

Life Of The Party: DVD Review

Life Of The Party: Film Review

Melissa McCarthy's Life of the Party feels tame, uninspired and in some parts, stretched as long as a college lecture fronted by a droning professor.

McCarthy plays Deanna, a mom who starts the film dropping her daughter off for college and ends up moments later on the cusp of divorce and homeless.

Deciding to go back to college (where her daughter is) to finish the year she never completed, Deanna embraces college life - and the books - like before.

Turning into a mother for some of the sorority's lost, and dating a younger man, Deanna finds her place - before facing the obvious third act obstacles.

Despite some touches - a great double act with Maya Rudolph as Deanna's friend being the highlight- Life of the Party tries to mix awkward banter with McCarthy's knack for trademark pratfalls and physical humiliation.

Life Of The Party Film Review
It works in parts, but for large swathes of the film, the bumpy to ally mixed film hits too many lulls and cliches on the way to prove a winning formula.

It helps less that the rating tones the film down, making it hit more of a TV movie special than a riotous romp fest. But in some ways that's perhaps where the truisms of McCarthy's continued success reaches - her endless relatability to sections of the cinema going audience proving to be fertile ground for those looking to spend a dollar on women-led films, or searching for girls night out fare.

Life Of The Party: Film Review

The problem with Life Of The Party is that it's never quite as strong enough as it needs to be; it fails to hit some of the highs, while eschewing the typical teenager embarrassed by my parents trope and narrative. It also never quite hits the empowerment high it's aiming for either, preferring to be a muted call, rather than a rallying fanfare.

It strives to be different, but ultimately, Life Of The Party is a party few will fully want to attend til the end - much like any party eventually does, it rather outstays its welcome. 

Episode One of The Walking Dead: The Final Season Is Now Available for Download

Episode One of The Walking Dead: The Final Season Is Now Available for Download


The season premiere, 'Done Running,' launched today 
on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One across all regions, and on Nintendo Switch in North America. 

 Leading publisher and developer of digital entertainment Telltale Games, alongside Robert Kirkman's Skybound Entertainment, today premiered the inaugural episode of The Walking Dead: The Final Season, a new four-part game series that will conclude the journey of Telltale's iconic survivor Clementine.

Episode one, 'Done Running,' is now available for download on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One across all regions. It is also available digitally on Nintendo Switch in North America and will launch on Switch in other regions later this month. The full season is available for $19.99 USD. Episode one can now be downloadedimmediately upon purchase, and all subsequent episodes will become available for download as they are released.

In addition, episode one voice packs and translations are currently available for download within the episode. The Walking Dead: The Final Season has been fully dubbed in French, German, Latin-American Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. It has also been subtitled in French, German, Latin-American Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, Russian, and both traditional and simplified Chinese.

Season Description: Clementine, now a fierce and capable survivor, has reached the final chapter in her journey. After years on the road facing threats both living and dead, a secluded school might finally be her chance for a home. But protecting it will mean sacrifice. Clem must build a life and become a leader while still watching over AJ, an orphaned boy and the closest thing to family she has left. In this gripping, emotional final season, you will define your relationships, fight the undead, and determine how Clementine's story ends. 
  • Emotional, Gut-Wrenching Story - See Clementine's journey through to the end. As she builds a new life, you will have to grapple with new types of choices and live with the consequences as AJ looks on, learning from your every move.
  • More Control, More Tension - A new over-the-shoulder camera system, greater freedom to explore detailed environments, and scenes with unscripted combat capture the fear of living in a world overrun by the undead and create the most engaging The Walking Dead game yet.
  • Striking New Visual Style - The all-new Graphic Black art style rips the ink from the pages of the Eisner Award-winning comic book series and brings the world of The Walking Dead to life like never before. Supports 4K resolution and high dynamic range on compatible devices.
To date, The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series has sold more than 50 million episodes worldwide, earning more than 100 Game of the Year awards from outlets including Metacritic, USA Today, Wired, The VGAs, Yahoo!, The Telegraph, Mashable, Polygon, Destructoid, and GamesRadar. It has also received two BAFTA Video Games Awards for Best Story.

The Walking Dead is set in the world of Robert Kirkman's award-winning comic book series and offers an emotionally-charged experience in which players' actions and choices determine the course of the story across the entire series. In order to see their choices reflected in the upcoming season, players will be able to import their existing series save files into The Final Season. For more information, please refer to this blog. Players can also complete the interactive Story Builder either
online or in-game to create a new custom save file.

Episode one, 'Done Running,' has been rated 'Mature' by the ESRB. For more information on the game, visit the official website and Facebook page, and follow Telltale Games on Twitter. For more information on The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman, and all of his titles, visit

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

The Meg: Film Review

The Meg: Film Review

Cast: Jason Statham, Bingbing Li, Rainn Wilson, Ruby Rose, Cliff Curtis
Director: Jon Turteltaub

The shark film is an easy hit genre.
The Meg: Film Review

In this latest, which is frankly more suited to a Syfy TV slot than a big screen release (and even that's being generous), Jason Statham is Jonas Taylor, a former diver whose life is haunted by a decision to leave some former crew members to die to save others. (Classic Kobayashi Maru type stuff.)

Retired from diving, Taylor's called back in when an exploration beneath the seabed goes awry and his ex-wife is trapped. Taking part in the rescue and still believing a massive creature lurked below despite everyone's contrary protestations, Taylor and his team inadvertently provides a chance for a megalodon shark to escape his surroundings.

Now with humanity on the lunch menu, it's a race against time to rid the seas of the shark.
The Meg: Film Review

The Meg is not smart enough to realise its trash concept and embrace it.

And while this shark tale hits every cliche with barely any relish, parts of its execution are brilliantly realised.

From the smart looking techno futuristic seabase to the submersibles, the design side of The Meg is wonderfully brought to life. And it's populated by some standout turns - primarily Cliff Curtis' de facto base leader Mac, whose grounded performance makes him the mate you'd want to call on in any given situation.

There are times when Statham plays it a little too close to zany, delivering his cornball dialogue with a little too much gusto. It would have been wiser to have played up the redemption angle of this character, mixing it in with kind of haunted turns those obsessed with either sharks or whales deliver (Jaws, Moby Dick et al), but Statham isn't too far taxed from his usual MO.
The Meg: Film Review

Disappointingly, Bingbing Li's scientist goes from strong model to weak-kneed at the sight of Statham's Taylor when he shows up, and it's poor scripting at best. Equally some of the final scenes where the shark menaces a bay full of foreigners, the racial stereotyping is dangerously close to offensive. It's very much like those are pandering to the Chinese box office, without writing for them.

The shark's execution is nicely done, and there are some reasonable action sequences early on (Taylor being hauled through the water with a rope and the creature snapping at its heels being one of the best), but Turteltaub doesn't really deliver anything other than rote shark action, a tacit admission and nod to what's expected, but nothing more.

Ultimately, The Meg, unfortunately, bites. Its cliched codswallop, along with an at times overly familiar and tedious story, doesn't do much to deliver any kind of originality to the genre - and the suspense and emotional pull when people are dispatched are solely missing.

This is one shark tale which sadly, is like a fish out of water, floundering for its life.

Monday, 13 August 2018

I Feel Pretty: Blu Ray Review

I Feel Pretty: Blu Ray Review

You can see what Amy Schumer's self-image I Feel Pretty is trying to do.
I Feel Pretty: Film Review

A wannabe self-empowerment piece about what lies beneath and how inner beauty and confidence comes from within appears to have noble aims - especially in the ever-growing feminist empowerment times we live in.

But what emerges from the flat, occasionally tedious and definitely overlong I Feel Pretty is a sinking feeling that denying Schumer that bite which helped her skewer perceptions in her comedy show for a downpat traditional rom-com was a seriously bad move and showed those involved had little to no courage of their own convictions.

Schumer plays everywoman Renee, who dreams of working at fashion magazine Lily LeClaire, but who currently resides in their off-site basement in their IT department. Depressed by models which inhabit the gym and a desire to try and change her outward appearance, Renee joins a spin cycle class.

I Feel Pretty: Film Review

However, after an accident sees her bump her head, she recovers and catching a glimpse of herself in the mirror post-workout wallop, believes herself to be truly beautiful and utterly unbeatable. Imbued with a new-found confidence, Renee sets out for a receptionist job at Lily LeClaire - however, her journey takes an unexpected turn when her self-confidence and forthright opinions are noticed by LeClaire's CEO, Avery (Williams, in a wispy, ethereal and high-pitched Monroe voice).

There are moments to admire in I Feel Pretty.

Certainly, Schumer's relatability to the audience, and the fact she's never shy about showing off a podgy stomach wrapped highly in Spanx and lacking in self-worth proves to be a welcome tonic. Certainly, an early scene where she looks despondently in the mirror at her out of shape form and tears up will hit many a chord.

But where I Feel Pretty goes awry is in its mixed message. (And its potential squandering of the fact that Renee's post-knock change of heart is clearly a breakdown, triggered by depression).

It aims to subvert, telling the world that not everyone at a fashion magazine has to be a supermodel, or that not every guy is the perfect chiselled jaw. It aims to celebrate the nice persona in a time when nice is being ignored and crushed. These are admirable traits - and certainly, Renee's final speech of who we are would clearly have many women punching the sky in relief - were it not for the fact it's part of a make-up product launch.

The inherent problem with the overlong I Feel Pretty is that it's never quite strong enough to dance to its own tune, selling a message that's been told a million times before - and a million times more cleverly. (Any Disney princess movie manages to hit similar highs).

I Feel Pretty: Film Review

But, as mentioned earlier, the most disappointing thing about I Feel Pretty is crushing and suppressing Amy's acerbic take on life. If she'd been at the script, there would have been a chance of a few more vicious body blows being landed on both the patriarchy and perception.

As it is, I Feel Pretty is content to simply deliver a few paltry light taps to societal perceptions, and proffer some hints at subversion. 

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Isle of Dogs: Blu Ray Review

Isle of Dogs: Blu Ray Review

Propaganda, genocide, Japanese homage, accusations levelled of cultural appropriation and a white saviour - Wes Anderson's latest quirk fest, the stop animation Isle of Dogs, certainly has it all.
Isle of Dogs: Film Review

Set on Trash Island off the coast of Japan, it centres on a colony of canines, cut from their owner's lives at the behest of Prime Minister Kobayashi (Nomura) after an outbreak of dog flu and snout fever. Ripped from civilisation and living a little like Lord of The Flies with pockets of rabid ruffians looking for food, a group of four dogs one day see a visitor come to the island.

This is the little pilot, a boy looking simply for his lost pooch.

Taking the boy under their collective wings, the dogs, along with stray interloper Chief (Cranston, rich and gravelly), set out to find the Little Pilot's long lost pal - as a conspiracy on the mainland develops under Kobayashi's watch.

As stop animation and as a follow up to the stirling work done in Fantastic Mr Fox, West Anderson's latest is really second to none in the animation stakes, with everything painted through with the typical Anderson whimsy and quirk.

Isle of Dogs: Film Review

It's also second to none in the hipster quirk stakes as well - and towards the end, the light  fancy edges threaten to cloy and choke rather than assume the desired effect. Plus, there's a very sudden about face for one of the main characters which comes from nowhere and tonally jars.

But in terms of engaging a quest and Samurai element to the proceedings, the group's search certainly feels formed and is intriguing enough - even if it feels like little happens and they simply trudge from one element to the next, leading to a meandering feeling.

That's perhaps the joy of what Anderson's committed to the screen here - it feels slight, and light, with rafts of once over lightly, rather than big emotional heft - which may rankle some viewers.

However, with Chief's back story and the homage to Japan and its culture, Isle of Dogs is as traditional a animal adventure as anything Disney has put out - even if there are a few darker elements.

Isle of Dogs: Film Review

The one majorly troubling part of the story is the way that Little Pilot gets sidelined later on in favour of Greta Gerwig's white saviour Tracey who breaks open the conspiracy. It's hard to justify this, or whether it's a sly subversion of the dumb American cracking open the whole plot that's within (this may be granting Anderson a little too much space).

It feels like a misfire in a film that works to incorporate its cultural elements into the symmetry and tapestry of its film (although this has seen the film have criticisms levelled at it) and really does stick out like a sore thumb.

Ultimately though, Isle of Dogs, while it threatens to collapse under the weight of the quirk and times of occasional tedium it's created, is a film that nearly hits some of Fantastic Mr Fox's animated, but not heart, highs. It may lack the spontaneity and chaos of the previous entry, and some of the lighter touches (certainly, when it does cut loose it's a lot more fun and engaging), but it's definitely proof that stop-animation isn't a dying art form - and one that deserves to be seen on the screen.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Win a double pass to see Slender Man

Win a double pass to see Slender Man

To celebrate the release of Slender Man in cinemas August 23rd, you can win a double pass!

About Slender Man

In a small town in Massachusetts, a group of friends, fascinated by the internet lore of the Slender Man, attempt to prove that he doesn’t actually exist… until one of them mysteriously goes missing.

Slender Man is in cinemas August 23rd

To win all you have to do is email your details and the word SLENDER to this address: or CLICK HERE NOW!

Competition closes August 23rd!

Mary and The Witch's Flower: DVD Review

Mary and The Witch's Flower: DVD Review

Likely to appeal to those who felt Harry Potter was too male-led, Mary and The Witch's Flower's the first film from the Japanese Studio Ponoc.
Mary and The Witch's Flower: Film Review

It's the story of Mary, a young girl who's finding life in the countryside a little dull while she waits for her parents to move across to be with her. On the cusp of starting school, one day Mary heads into the nearby woods following a cat - despite her great aunt Mary's insistence on staying away from the woods.

Finding some strange flowers and a broomstick that comes to life, Mary is whisked above the clouds to a magical school, Endor College, where she's welcomed as the latest witch apprentice.

But Mary's flower discovery puts her in peril and at odds with those running the college - as well as discovering a threat to all life.

Mary and The Witch's Flower: Film Review

It's fair to say that Mary and The Witch's Flower wears its Potter influence deep on its sleeve.

Whilst it may lack some of the warmth and emotion of the Potter series (there's not as much heart on display here sadly), the central story of Mary, with her outcast red hair and quirky ways, will give some girls a heroine they need.

However, Mary's prone to pratfalls, to mess ups and to bursting into tears which weakens the argument a little and disappoints.

In terms of the animation it's perfectly fine, but for a new studio, it unfortunately lacks the wow factor to help them set out their stall with their debut feature.

The backdrops are nicely painted and tend to fade into the background rather than stand out, and while there are some well-executed set pieces, there's little which truly jumps from the screen.

Mary and The Witch's Flower: Film Review

If anything, the copy of the Hogwarts style school is solidly executed - from a menagerie of creatures and critters to a Scottish groundskeeper, there's a lot here that feels familiar. And, because of that, it's a shame as Mary and The Witch's Flower has some real potential to cast some magic.

As it is, it's a fairly enchanting sort of tale for 90 minutes, but its bucolic edges and Potter-familiarity (as well as dashes of Howl's Moving Castle) prevent it from truly weaving a magic spell.

Dragon Quest XI: DQVII Costume Announcement

Dragon Quest XI: DQVII Costume Announcement


DRAGON QUEST VIII Costume Available from Launch for all DRAGON QUEST XI Players

SYDNEY, 10th August 2018 – In celebration of the upcoming release of DRAGON QUEST® XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age™ on 4th September, Square Enix Ltd., today release brand-new screenshots and gameplay footage showcasing a special DRAGON QUEST VIII costume which will be available to all players at launch.

The DRAGON QUEST VIII Trodain Bandana and Trodain Togs will be available in all DRAGON QUEST XI players’ inventories from launch and can be equipped to the Luminary character to boost defensive stats in the early portion of the game. Players are also provided with a recipe book “Trodain’s Top Trends”, which includes details on how to improve the stats of the special costume in the later stages of the game.