Thursday, 31 May 2018

Upgrade: Film Review

Upgrade: Film Review

Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Melanie Vallejo, Betty Green
Director: Leigh Whannell

The fact that Upgrade is so woefully unoriginal in its narrative is almost inexorably and perversely beside the point.

It robs cliches and genre tropes from every which way, stealing from Robocop, via Cronenbergian body horror and even riffs on late 80s buddy cop /tech shows like Automan and Knight Rider.
Upgrade: Film Review

Yet it does it with such glee and b-movie abandon that it's almost compulsive and adrenaline fuelled in that way Blumhouse productions churn out low budget films and makes almost diamonds from cinematic coal.

In a world supposedly just five minutes from now, where autonomous cars roam the roads and tech is close to taking over, the Tom Hardy-cum Jamie Dornan Marshall-Green is Grey Trace, a veritable Luddite who prefers to listen to vinyl, while out in his garage, repairing his old Pontiac Firebird. His wife, Asha (Winners and Losers Melanie Vallejo) is a little less stubborn in her tech approach, working for a computer company and embracing the future.

However, their world is changed when their autonomous car goes nuts, leads them to the wrong part of town, and leaves Asha dead and Grey a quadriplegic after a mugging gone wrong. Approached by a tech genius and offered the chance to take part in a risky surgery to input a computer chip into his spine, Grey's triggered by the thought of avenging his dead wife.

So with the STEM system inside, he begins his quest... despite every moral fibre being conflicted within.

Upgrade is the kind of B-movie schlock that plays predictably to its low level budget, but brings some inventiveness to the visual table.
Upgrade: Film Review

In a cast where acting is sometimes secondary to the screen (with the exception of Marshall-Green and Vallejo), the film's scuzzy sheen is sometimes marred by its less-than-hitting-the-roof ambitions. But there is no denying the film's look and feel is like a dirty Blade Runner with 80s revenge movie intentions. Drones hover in the sky in this day-after-tomorrow world, and Saw scribe Whannell deserves some praise for his execution, old school or otherwise.

In among some nifty fight sequences that don't skimp on the gore or the style (thanks to Whannell's camera following Marshall-Green at his level), the film's plot and various holes and issues are easily skated across. It gives Upgrade the feeling of something pertaining to be a little more sophisticated than it actually achieves (an overall feeling is one of mistrust at where technology is going, the conflict between old school and new world mentioned but never fully narratively leaned on).

But there's no denying for a night out, and for a sci-fi B-movie the likes of which is so rarely seen these days, Upgrade is a serious contender for guilty pleasure movie of the year - it knows what it wants to do, strives to build on its high concept premise and isn't afraid to fail - and is more than happy to have you along for the adrenaline-fuelled revenge ride.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Kodachrome: Film Review

Kodachrome: Film Review

Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Ed Harris, Elizabeth Olsen, Bruce Greenwood, Dennnis Haysbert
Director: Mark Raso

Kodachrome: Film ReviewIt may hit every branch of the predictable tree as it winds its way to its inevitably sappy and sentimental conclusion, but Kodachrome, as it heads on its hoary trope of road trip, gets by on an earnestness of portrayal and a script that's on-the-mark.

Sudeikis is Matt Ryder, a down on his luck A&R man, who's on the brink of being fired after his latest band signs to another rival label and his boss reveals he's kept him on at a loss for years.

When he finds a woman, Zoe (Avengers star Olsen) hanging out in his office with no clue why she's there, she reveals that his estranged photographer father Ben (Harris, in a raging against the dying of the light role) is on the brink of succumbing to cancer.

With one simple wish to transport some undeveloped films to Kansas in a road trip, and the possiblity of career salvation dangled before him, Matt decides to make the journey - no matter what demons are stirred up.

Kodachrome develops predictably as it ambles on its journey toward redemption, dealing with death and settling old scores.

Sudeikis plays it straight and forlorn as Ryder, showing once again that his everyman appeal and likeability can occasionally border on sleepwalking. But there's genuine warmth to parts of his portrayal as he tackles a venomous script which sees bitter barbs fired between him and Ben.

Harris is solid as well as Ben, the father who apparently never was, but whose heart obviously never strayed, even when other parts of his anatomy did. Reflective and mournful, bitter and resentful, Harris wraps his Ben up in all the elements and never once overplays the dramatic hand he's been dealt.

Olsen delivers a nuanced turn, even if the script treats her nurse Zoe a little shabbily.
Kodachrome: Film Review

Kodachrome: Film ReviewTalking of which, it's the script from AG Sulzberger and Jonathan Tropper which has a veracity and reality to it that, apart from the necessary end, strays too far into sentimentality as it deals with the familial fallout.

While it does fall apart in the dying moments, as it collapses under the weight of its own inevitable sentimentality, Kodachrome becomes a case of a film being more about the journey than the destination.

Hazily filmed by Raso, the film may lacks surprises and a real bite, but what Kodachrome commits to the big screen, it makes memorable in a non-lingering way. The film's developed as much as its titular photographic process is, but it doesn't tender to linger on forever.

Ultimately, Kodachrome is a pleasant enough diversion, blessed by performances and veracity that bind all together - but don't be surprised if the inevitability of what transpires somehow inadvertently manages to cloud your overall judgement, like a badly developed Polaroid.

Win a double pass to see HEREDITARY

Win a double pass to see HEREDITARY

To celebrate the release of  HEREDITARY in cinemas June 7, you can win a double pass!


HEREDITARY is a soul-shaking vision of first-time filmmaker Ari Aster - an expertly crafted,
supremely disturbing paranormal horror story about a cursed family that inherits unimaginable evils
following the death of their mysterious grandmother.

Hereditary hits cinemas June 7.

To win a copy, all you have to do is email  your details to this address: or CLICK HERE NOW!

Please label your entry HEREDITARY

Competition closes June 8th

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Black Panther: Blu Ray Review

Black Panther: Blu Ray Review

To say that Marvel Studios' Black Panther arrives at a somewhat crucial time in cinema history is akin to saying "2 plus 2 equals 4."
Black Panther: Film Review

For those not au fait with the Black Lives Matter movement, the under-representation of people of colour in cinema ongoing fight and the fallout from the #OscarsSoWhite debacle, as well as a Marvel Cinematic Universe that has been largely fronted by white dudes during the last decade - a contrast which has been starkly shown up by DC Universe's Wonder Woman and subsequent accolades, the time really is now for a change.

And yet to simply acclaim Black Panther for breaking this mould and its part for diversity is also to do it an injustice - after all, a large portion of these movements are about offering fairness and treating subjects equally.

So, in terms of the superhero movie, and moving away from the important fact that young black people deserve to see heroes of their own on screen, Black Panther more than matches the best of the Marvel Cinematic Universe - even if it does repeat some of the tenets of what has gone before.

Black Panther: Film Review

Focussing on Chadwick Boseman's stoic Prince T'Challa, who's forced to take the kingdomship of his own Wakanda after the death of his father, what follows in Black Panther is a largely self-contained story that eschews away from the wider ramifications of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and its ongoing mythology and revels in the political machinations of a new leader taking the reins of power.

Wakanda is a hidden kingdom deep in Africa's world, one which has grown its own technology thanks to the plentiful source of mysterious element vibranium (right up there with James Cameron's unobtanium from Avatar in terms of element-naming) and has shied away from sharing it with the rest of the world.

But when T'Challa comes to power, a decades-old struggle is reborn - and coupled with T'Challa's desire to catch a war criminal and arms dealer from the outside world (played with hammy glee and Afrikaans accent by Andy Serkis), the Black Panther/ T'Challa learns the responsibility of power is a heavier burden than expected.

Black Panther: Film Review

Mixing tradition, comments over colonialism, cultural identity, Bond movies, tinges of Thor and Iron Man, some tightly shot and executed choreography, a villain with a genuine emotional edge rather than his one-dimensional predecessors, and touches of humour, Black Panther is perhaps a more nuanced Marvel movie than we've seen for a while. And an admirable self-contained effort at that.

There are some moments when it falters though - a reliance on debate to further the plot may cause some restlessness in the younger elements attracted to the MCU for the whipcrack Avengers style banter; and a conclusion that relies on a white guy to save a part of the day is a little troubling in some ways.

And there's a distinct feeling at times that it follows a formula set down for the Marvel franchise alone - even if its some of its action sequences bristle with cultural colour and tribal tradition, there is still a car chase which feels like an extended advert rather than a narrative necessity.

Black Panther: Film Review

Plus placing a central cast member in peril is severely undercut by the fact they've been viewed in the Avengers Infinity War trailer - Marvel marketing really must do better.

And yet, despite the familiarity of what transpires, and the richness of culture, as well as the depth of the acting talent, there's still a feeling of indifference in Black Panther's appearance.

It may well be Marvel fatigue rather than what's put on the screen because all of the deeply nuanced and empathetic cast turn in some impressive work - and manage to operate within the hammering home of certain messages over oppression and times to rise up sentiments.

But perhaps, and maybe just whisper this, there should be a little more?

Michael B Jordan has depth, Letitia Wright steals the show as the Q-inspired tech-obsessed sister of T'Challa, Danai Gurira continues to kick as much ass as Michonne does on The Walking Dead and Boseman imbues the Black Panther with the necessary gravitas.

Black Panther: Film Review

Ultimately, while Black Panther is a fresh origin tale which feels reflective of the times and desires of the cinematic universe and world, it's fairly formulaic Marvel fare.

Setting aside the vital empowerment and diversity messages it eschews and boiling down the presentation of the elements, Black Panther really does nothing new with the franchise - aside from its casting and its strong female representation.

Sagging in parts, and grasping for greatness, its aims and ambitions can't be faulted - and its execution is well-realised by Creed director Coogler, but this Black Panther doesn't unfortunately quite roar when it should - even though it bears its teeth often and plentifully throughout. 

Monday, 28 May 2018

New Zealand first to go in the event of zombie apocalypse

New Zealand first to go in the event of zombie apocalypse

New research to be released today reveals how Kiwis would cope in the event of a zombie outbreak. The envious rest of the country will be pleased to know that Jafas are the first to go in the event of the walking dead sweeping the nation as the research suggests that Auckland would be the fastest city to fall while Queenstown residents would be most likely to survive.

New Zealand first to go in the event of zombie apocalypse

To mark the launch of new video game State of Decay 2, Xbox has partnered with the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Disaster Management and Public Safety (CDMPS) to conduct research based on how well Kiwis would handle the spread of a flesh-eating disease.

The research findings provide detail into New Zealand’s weapon of choice, how confident Kiwis would be to withstand such a threat and how desperate some would be to survive – with most respondents admitting they would sacrifice a neighbour to the walking dead over their family pet!

Please see attached release with additional research results, a first-look at the Zombie Survival Index ‘ZSI’ rankingsoutbreak simulations and illustrations of what Auckland would look like "after the fall”.
New Zealand first to go in the event of zombie apocalypse

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Stan Walker film sweeps Doc Edge Film awards

Stan Walker film sweeps Doc Edge Film awards


Ruckus Media and Kiwi Director Mitchell Hawkes, won big at the 13th annual Doc Edge International Documentary Film Festival awards this evening at Q Theatre for the moving and intimate feature film Stan and short documentary Born This Way: Awa’s Story.

Ruckus Media picked up Best NZ Feature Documentary, Best NZ Editing and Best NZ Cinematography for Stan and Best NZ Short Documentary for Born This Way: Awa’s Story. Director Hawkes won Best NZ Director for Stan.

Kiwi director Zihan Chang earned the Best NZ Emerging Filmmaker for her film Searching for the Bone People which also received a special mention in the category of NZ Competition – Short Documentary.

On the international front, Talal Derki and his disturbing yet compelling film Of Fathers and Sons won the Best International Feature Documentary. The judges made special mention of the danger that the Derki placed himself in by making this film, noting that the result is an exceptional film that balances both the subtlety and brutality of the theatre of war.

Best International Director was awarded to Hao Wu for People's Republic of Desire. Wu’s ability to present insight into the pursuit of fame in China through the eyes of three protagonists was exceptional. The judges were also impressed by the use of post-production to create a deeper viewer experience of the virtual world and 21st century China.

After a successful season in Wellington, it is now Auckland’s turn to get involved in the incredible programme of 74 films from NZ and all over the world in this year’s Doc Edge Festival.

Full list of Winners Doc Edge Awards 2017:
New Zealand Competition– Feature Documentary
Best New Zealand Feature Documentary – Stan
Best New Zealand Director – Mitchell Hawkes, Stan
Best New Zealand Editing - Stan
Best New Zealand Cinematography – Stan 

New Zealand Competition – Short Documentary
Best New Zealand Short Documentary:  Born This Way: Awa’s Story 
Special Mention: Searching for the Bone People

International Competition – Feature Documentary
Best International Feature Documentary: Of Fathers and Sons
Best International Director: Hao Wu, People's Republic of Desire

International Competition – Short Documentary
Best International Short Documentary:  Edith + Eddie
Special Mention: Kayayo, The Living Shopping Baskets

Best New Zealand Emerging Filmmaker: Zihan Chang, Searching for the Bone People 

Doc Edge Superhero: Diane Weyermann, Participant Media, USA

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Molly's Game: DVD Review

Molly's Game: DVD Review

Fusing Goodfellas and The Wolf Of Wall Street, Aaron Sorkin's take and directorial debut on the Molly Bloom story starts with an almighty bang, before settling for more conformist tropes of the biopic genre.
Molly's Game: Film Review

For those unfamiliar with the "Poker Princess", Bloom was the target of an FBI investigation over her running an underground poker empire which had members of the Russian mob attending.

But Bloom refused to give up the big names in the case, putting her on a collision course with a lawyer (Elba) and the authorities, determined to take her down.

Molly's Game, taken from the memoir Molly's Game: From Hollywood's Elite to Wall Street's Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker, starts with fire, a high stakes ticking story of Bloom's initial career as a skier, and how that fell apart when chance crippled her opportunity to take it to the next stage.

It's in the opening moments that Sorkin's penchant for sparkling dialogue combines expertly with clever editing and creates something that's tense with Chastain wonderfully espousing the words written for her Bloom.

Molly's Game: Film Review
Soon after, the polished and slick film settles for a calmer feel, one that's saddled with exposition and narration to tell the story - and while there's initial energy, the combination of that, flashbacks and sequences with Elba's lawyer Jaffey means the film loses some of its oomph.

But in the poker scenes, there's a palpable sense of tension and suspense - mostly due to how it's shot. 

With Chastain's Bloom on the edges, and her business acumen being the main driver for her dilemma, there's a definite frisson bubbling away under these scenes.

Infuriatingly though, Sorkin's desire to characterise Bloom's reason for her predicament as being due to her relationship with her father is cloying at best and irritating given how much strength and independence he's imbued Chastain's Bloom with throughout. A reliance on flashbacks punches the sentiment further in, and even though Chastain and Costner work well on screen, it feels piecemeal and trite to boil it all down to this in the denouement.

Molly's Game is never better when Chastain is prowling through the screen.

Molly's Game: Film Review
With a sense of dynamism and a feeling of utter control, this is an anti-hero that we can get behind, even if the moral compass is guiding Bloom to her downfall and her reasoning. Chastain is electric and defies you to look away when she's in full control of proceedings, and the moments the cracks and chinks in the armour show, it's horrifyingly real and frighteningly vulnerable.

Ultimately, for Sorkin's debut behind the camera, he's relied on what you'd expect of him - dialogue heavy (a little too so in voiceover terms) and better in characterising moments for his protagonist rather than others around.

But nonetheless, Molly's Game is a film full of high stakes, led by a dazzling queen in this card deck - it's not exactly a full house, but it's certainly one that stacks the deck squarely in the chutzpah stakes and proves an occasional wild card. 

Friday, 25 May 2018

Mission: Impossible- Fallout | International Trailer

Mission: Impossible- Fallout | International Trailer

The newly launched International Trailer for Mission: Impossible- Fallout is here ahead of its release on August 2, 2018.

Tom Cruise is at it again, reprising his role as super-spy Ethan Hunt with a star studded cast of faces both familiar and new. 

Writer/director Christopher McQuarrie marks the first director in the franchise to repeat, reprising his duties from Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.

McQuarrie assembled an all-star ensemble for this sequel, which not only brings back franchise favourites like Michelle Monaghan and Simon Pegg, but also introduces new characters played by Henry Cavill and Angela Bassett along with returning Rogue Nation breakout Rebecca Ferguson

The story of this new film finds Ethan Hunt on the ropes, as the IMF’s past good deeds come back to haunt them in the worst way.

Life Of The Party: Film Review

Life Of The Party: Film Review

Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Gillian Jacobs, Julie Bowen, Debby Ryan
Director: Ben Falcone
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.

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Solo: A Star Wars Story: Film Review

Solo: A Star Wars Story: Film Review

Cast: Alden Ehrenreich, Emilia Clarke, Paul Bettany, Woody Harrelson, Thandie Newton, Donald Glover, Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Director: Ron Howard

Solo: A Star Wars Story: Film Review
Enigma, mystery, the eternal riddle of how an iconic character came to be.

These are the things of which nightmares are made for writers tasked with origin stories.

Whether it's an infamous line, or an oblique cool-sounding reference tossed into a script as a throwaway line, it's a conundrum.

Han Solo.

The name is evocative - he's the guy who shot first, the guy who made the Kessel run in 12 parsecs, the guy who was cool and detached in those original films back in the 1970s.

But scratch beneath the surface and peer into the veneer to explore his origins and that's where the mystery starts to fade.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Lucasfilm set the directors of The LEGO Movie, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller to work. And then they were removed due to "creative differences" - causing the sound of a million geeks to cry out in existential terror at what lay ahead for their beloved smuggler.

Solo: A Star Wars Story: Film Review

In came Ron Howard to try and rescue what was there from the clutches of the Empire's vaults.

So, what we're left with with Solo: A Star Wars Story is an origin tale no one really wanted (because Han's backstory is best left to tantalising lines and imaginations), questions answered no one really asked and a story in the Star Wars universe that suggests the Empire isn't involved in everything.

Displaying some, but nowhere near enough, of the charisma that Harrison Ford delivered in the series, Hail Caesar!'s Alden Ehrenreich is Han, a scumrat who's trying to break away from his home planet of Corellia with his girlf Qi'ra (Game of Thrones Emilia Clarke) thanks to a theft of the film's MacGuffin, Hyperfuel.

Separated when their heist goes wrong, Han signs up with the baddies to become a pilot, and ends up in the trenches (the closest Star Wars has ever got to showing the gritty World War I edges of warfare) before falling in with Woody Harrelson's Beckett and his band of merry mercenaries.

Teaming up to pull a job on a flying train (one of the film's stand-out action sequences, that packs Western vibes into a snowy landscape and never loses the thread in among the pace), Han does all he can to get back to Qi'Ra and the life he used to know.
Solo: A Star Wars Story: Film Review

It's fair to say that Solo: A Star Wars Story doesn't really feel like a Star Wars film.

In fact, for the most part of it, the sparkle you'd feel and giddy high you'd encounter for being part of this world feels absent, with those in charge hoping the thrills would come from the fact a line was referenced, or you see how Chewbacca and Han actually met - it's a perfunctory take on the legend, and one can't help but feel shortchanged in some of the execution.

It's to be commended for trying to widen the universe without always having to tie back into it (something the countless novels and stories have always done) and the how-he-became-a-smuggler isn't quite told in the way you'd expect.

Glover manages a perfect Billy Dee Williams impression, but his Lando isn't quite the high-stakes scoundrel we'd expect, and most of the performance feels bathed in the "cool" that's currently surrounding Glover, rather than anything else.

Equally, it has to be said, that while Ehrenreich comes occasionally close to matching some of what Ford did as Solo thanks to hints of where his future lies, the cocky edges aren't on show, and even hints of them are missing. He feels like he's come from a Western, and is trying to impress as Solo, but the script doesn't quite serve him as well.

In fairness, Han and Chewie's relationship - along with Phoebe Waller-Bridge's L3-37 robot and Lando - are where the film really does hit its straps. Playful, earnest and with heart, these fire unexpectedly off the screen from the moment they're seen - and really make parts of Solo: A Star Wars Story stand out. It's a shame there's not more of this, as when they come, they're joyous.

Unfortunately, Clarke and Ehrenreich have little chemistry, and what little they can muster pales into insignificance with the ease of what Carrie Fisher and Ford achieved. For an emotional centre, it's sorely miscast and deeply uninvolving.
Solo: A Star Wars Story: Film Review

Ultimately, Solo: A Star Wars Story feels muted, and struggles with some lulls; it doesn't help that most of the mystery of Solo is unravelled in other's hands, leaving you the feeling none of his hinted-at reputation was earned, merely given, which is a crucial difference in such a character, whose reputation is key. 

What emerges from the spinoff space saga is a feeling that it feels like a project that floundered to find an edge, a piece of fan service that tries too hard to hit its core audience in the intergalactic feels (You want a Cantina style scene? Sure, we'll give you that) and which which tries to subvert expectations, but never quite gets there.

Solo: A Star Wars Story may never reach the pantheon of the greatest Star Wars films, and its perfunctory execution and lurching-from-one-sequence-to-the-next don't do it any favours. 

In this galaxy far, far away, the stars don't appear to shine as brightly.

It may have been doomed from the start, thanks to the weight of what happened in 1977, but it certainly shows that not everything in this endless galaxy needs to be explained, and that sometimes, a hint of mystery should be - and indeed is - more than enough to sustain a legend for cinematic eternity.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The Sinner: Season One: DVD Review

The Sinner: Season One: DVD Review

Rating: R16
Released by Universal Home Ent
The Sinner: Season One: DVD Review
Jessica Biel stars in the adaptation of Petra Hammesfhar's novel about a woman who, one day on the beach, cracks and stabs someone to death.

As the police delve into the killing, mysterious secrets and a conspiracy emerge...

Biel and co-star Bill Pullman make for harrowing partners in this thriller, which has twists aplenty and is willing to reward those who stick with its slower moments.

Whilst the book's darkness may have been toned down for the TV show, there's still a feeling of claustrophobia and unease as it plays out - and Biel commits fully to the role, with Christopher Abbott proving to be a worthy foil and a growing less-recognised talent.

Ultimately, The Sinner takes its time to grip, but finally does when it all comes together.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

The Client List: Season 1: DVD Review

The Client List: Season 1: DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by Madman Home Entertainment

The Client List: Season 1: DVD ReviewJennifer Love Hewitt stars in a vaguely salacious series about the pressures faced by an American family.

She's a mother, who facing financial problems, turns to the oldest game in town (in some ways) in a massage parlour to help make ends meet.

Seduced by money and placed in an enviable position, The Client List is about as provocative as you'd expect from a Lifetime series, so it's more about the dilemma faced by Love Hewitt's character.

It's not a strong series, but does offer some sincerity in the form of Love Hewitt, who sells the role with conviction, even if the scripts don't.

Over 10 episodes of the first season, The Client List hits some of the stops you'd expect, but its soapier edges make it less of a compelling drama than it could be - it's simply one which relies on the charms of Love Hewitt to sell it with conviction.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Duckman: The Complete Seasons 1-4: DVD Review

Duckman: The Complete Seasons 1-4: DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by Madman Home Ent

Running from 94 to 97, this adult animated cartoon was a crude blast of fresh air.
Duckman: The Complete Seasons 1-4: DVD Review

Confined to late night BBC viewings in the UK, the titular Duckman was a private eye (played by Jason Alexander) who had more of the self-hating vibe than you'd expect.

With the set comprising some 70 episodes and some great special features, including commentary and animatics, there's definitely a feeling of the full Duckman experience that's worth dwelling on.

And with an extremely high profile guest cast list, there's lots of "that sounds like" moments to be had as well.

But it's in the scabrous tales and the mocking of private eye conventions and tropes that Duckman flourishes, painting everything with a crude afterglow that's hard to deny. And it's funny too - Alexander gives his all to Duckman and the ludicrous situations he finds himself in.

Funny, crude and amusing before South Park et al made it fashionable, Duckman's Complete Seasons are well worth owning if you've even serious about what animation means.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Phantom Thread: DVD Review

Phantom Thread: DVD Review

In 1950s post-war London, Paul Thomas Anderson's latest aims to shine with sleek production values, a pitch-perfect soundtrack from Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood and Daniel Day-Lewis' swansong in acting.
Phantom Thread: Film Review

And yet, the chilly Phantom Thread fails to emotionally engage the viewer with its tale of control, powerplays and a decidedly uncomfortable central relationship.

Day-Lewis is renowned dressmaker Reynolds Woodcock, a fashion icon, and confirmed bachelor who welcomes women into his life as muses, then discards them when they reach the end of their usefulness.

Escaping to the country after delivering a dress, Woodcock meets waitress Alma (Krieps), whose entrance into his life is marred by a clumsiness that juxtaposes his own precision. Taken with her, Woodcock finds new inspiration in her shape and is consumed with the creative joy a muse brings.

However, Alma is strong-willed and refuses to bend to his more curious edges, setting up a conflict that has ramifications for the Woodcock house and empire.

Phantom Thread: Film Review

It's fair to say that Anderson's Phantom Thread has an icy chilliness that some will find engaging, and others will find dis-engaging.

Sumptuously shot, delicately woven, this psychological battle of wills plays out on a frosty background that seems oddly contemporary despite its period setting.

While Day-Lewis' Woodcock is a relatively spiteful enigma, whose insouciance and desire for perfection irritates, Alma's desire to be part of this world and to be the woman who changes the man for the better is a universal theme in all relationship dramas.

Orbiting the pair of them is the Oscar-nominated Lesley Manville, as Cyril, Woodcock's sister and administrative arm of the empire. With relatively little dialogue and the nuance of minor actions throughout, Manville brings a thaw to proceedings as Cyril goes on her own arc.

Phantom Thread: Film Review

But it's Krieps who engages the most here - going from doe-eyed would be suitor to woman determined to get her own way (elements of MacBeth and Lady MacBeth's Florence Pugh spring to mind), her character is one that feels like a reaction of the MeToo movement, a woman whose desires won't be thwarted by a creative fragile apparent genius.

And yet, despite the strong performances, Phantom Thread itself remains somewhat of an enigma, a curio of a film that never quite hits any emotional resonance and feels like you, the audience, are watching a game of chess and consequent strategies from afar.

It's a distant piece, and with its meticulous edges, feels a little too crafted for general consumption. It may be sumptuous, but it's never bewitching at the level it should be. Everyone's functioning at the top of their game, and the pieces are there, but the emotional core of where Phantom Thread should be feels hollow and unconnected and uninviting to anything else. 

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Spacejacked: PS4 Review

Spacejacked: PS4 Review

Developed by Rotten Mage
Platform: PS4

There's something about 8-bit gaming on the PS4 console.
Spacejacked: PS4 Review

It's a perverse pleasure, a throwback to when things were simpler, and inevitably, rather than being how the game looks, it's all about how the game plays.
(Though admittedly, it is a little bit about how the game looks too.)

Rotten Mage's tower-defender style shoot-em-up is a simple pleasure, a bitesize game that hilariously fills out with its roster with a hero called Dave.

Set on a spaceship with invading aliens, Dave, who frequently lets you know didn't sign up for this, is called on to save the day.
Jumping from area to area, putting up turrets (choice - laser, gun or stasis field - or all three), Dave's job is to stop the baddies from overwhelming the main engines.

Dave's able to assemble and reassemble turrets in different locations, or build others when enough metal (the in-game currency) is collected to do so. But the trick is to set up the defences and get ready before a timer introduces the waves of attackers.
And then potentially, to disassemble and reassemble in other arenas when waves come in...
Spacejacked: PS4 Review

As Dave deals to the baddies, members of the spaceship are freed from their kidnappers, and offer different kinds of help.
One offers to upgrade blasters, another turrets and another gives him the chance to venture out in a spaceship and collect metal in a mini-game.

To say Spacejacked has a retro charm is to smother it in faint praise.
It's very playable, has 20 levels and really is quite easy to get through - replayability is perhaps more of an issue than you'd realise until later on.

But there are endless survival modes and other challenges as well - there's enough to do in the game if you want to just kick around.

Much like Bro-Force, the graphics are perfectly adorable and also silly as well.
There's charm aplenty in the game, and levels tax you with their commitment to strategy - you can't just wing it, unless you fancy playing a very short campaign.
Spacejacked: PS4 Review

The game never stutters even when the screen's overloaded with creatures, and the guns are going all blazing. There's certainly an addictive touch to the game as well as the fact that it embraces bitesize plays, if you just want to kick back and chill for a bit.

There are challenges within Spacejacked, but the whole thing is never overly challenging - level fails are usually dealt with quite quickly if you're prone to learning.
Ultimately, Spacejacked is a lo-fi indie treat, a reminder that big isn't necessarily better - it's endlessly playable and admirably cute.




BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe is pleased to announce the presence in SOULCALIBUR VI of Yoshimitsu, the most famous cross-over character. SOULCALIBUR VI will be launched in 2018 for PlayStation®4, Xbox One and PC Digital.

The Manji clan's village was located at the bottom of the Holy Mount Fuji. Unfortunately, the clan was destroyed by the ire of a powerful warlord. As the lone survivor, Yoshimitsu, dedicated his life to his clan's martial arts. With his excellent swordsmanship, he was the greatest swordsmen of his time!

SOULCALIBUR VI will be launched in 2018 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC Digital. For more information about the game and other products from BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe please visit:, follow us on Facebook at, or join the conversation at

SoulCalibur VI will showcase at Battle Arena Melbourne 10 at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on the 18th to 20st of May. Be sure to come down and check it out!




Today, BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe introduced two new characters, a new location as well as bosses for the upcoming action-RPG CODE VEIN™.

Yakumo is revealed as a new buddy character. He proves to be an experienced fighter who positions himself in front of the enemy to protect his allies. The Drain Attack, which is performed by his Hounds, makes him a strong companion. Back in the past when he was still human, Mido used him for his cruel experiments. This is why Yakumo despises him even today. Emily Su is also introduced as another new character. She formed a deep bond with Yakumo, because, just like him, she was trapped in the military facility where Mido experimented on her. After she was separated from Yakumo by the Great Collapse, he sets out in search of her.

Moreover, the City of Falling Flame is unveiled as a new location. This city is left in ruins and haunted by an eternal fire. This threat turns everything that is left into ashes. The Thorns of Judgment wind their way through the whole city and players have to avoid obstacles like huge walls of flames and therefore explore everything carefully. The Lost called Blazing Radical, who reminds of a knight, is not the only creature that hides in the flames.

Apart from that, the Successor of the Claw is revealed as a major boss in CODE VEIN. It is a fearsome creature that covers its face with a mask and wields a terrific, burning sword. That's why it is up to the player to always be on guard and avoid its sweeping attacks. Also, this boss can burn the player if he gets too close to his claws and its two tails.

CODE VEIN is a third-person action RPG that set players into the role of a Revenant. These immortal soldiers were created to counter the threat of mankind that appeared after the Great Collapse, a catastrophic event eradicating most of the population. By injecting human corpses with the Biological Organ Regenerative Parasite, they were brought back from the dead, gaining superhuman capabilities and the ability to revive after death as long their heart stays intact at the cost of losing their memories. Players are tasked to embark into the world with a companion picked from the various residents of Vein to uncover their memories and an exit out of this new demented reality.

CODE VEIN will be available for Xbox One, PlayStation®4, and PC via STEAM® in 2018. For more information about the game and other products from BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Europe please visit:, follow us on Facebook at, or join the conversation at

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