Saturday, 30 June 2018

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Available Now on Nintendo Switch

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Available Now on Nintendo Switch


We are pleased to announce that Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is now available worldwide on Nintendo Switch. Spearheaded by veteran studio Panic Button with guidance from MachineGames, players can now experience the complete, uncensored, award-winning story and signature gameplay whenever and wherever they want. 

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Available Now on Nintendo Switch

In Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, players take on the role of BJ Blazkowicz to experience an action-packed story, brought to life by extraordinary characters. Reunite with friends and fellow freedom fighters as they take on the evil Frau Engel and her Nazi army. With the Nintendo Switch, players can wage the second American Revolution at home or on the go. Swiftly and efficiently eliminate the Nazi threat with full motion aiming support for Joy-Con and Pro Controllers in the perfect blend of immersion and accuracy.

Winner of multiple awards, including Video Game Awards’ ‘Best Action Game of 2017’, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is rated M for mature by the ESRB and is priced at $59.99 for Nintendo Switch. For more information, visit https://wolfenstein.bethesda.net/.

Friday, 29 June 2018

The Mercy: DVD Review

The Mercy: DVD Review

The name Donald Crowhurst may not mean much to many.
The Mercy: Film Review

But The Theory of Everything's director is aiming to change that with this intriguingly melancholy and cautionary tale of hubris.

A failing inventor and salesman in the 1960s, a contemplative Crowhurst (a sincere Firth) decides to take on the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe Race to prove something to himself and to leave a legacy.

The round-the-globe race would see the amateur sailor granted fame and his family and help boost their family out of the financial mire.

So, with a not sea-worthy boat and a headful of doubt, as well as saddled with debt, Crowhurst sets out to fulfill his burning desire to do something with his life.

And along with a publicist plotting everything on land (a bullish Thewlis), Crowhurst finds the pressure building...

The Mercy: Film Review

The thing about The Mercy is, much like Robert Redford's flashier All Is Lost, it's essentially all about the demons of a man left at the mercy of the elements and with only his own thoughts to spend time with.

Whereas All Is Lost was a little more of a traditional film, complete with danger, The Mercy's melancholy is the one over-riding element, as it washes over in the final back half of the film.

The tragic atmosphere's greatly helped by Marsh's sound team, who amplify the creaking of the mast, the lapping of the sea and the constant drip of water to maximum effect, building a soundscape which goes some way to giving an insight into Crowhurst's descending state of mind.

Whereas the first third of the relatively short film devotes an inordinate amount of time to telling backstory and simply presenting it with clunking ease, the rest of the film allows the actors the time to shine.

Particularly Weisz, whose initial appearances as a supportive wife are thankless at best - and superfluous at worst.

Aside from one awkward CGI presentation of great swells which appears to be cast offs from Mark Wahlberg's The Perfect Storm, the simplicity of the presentation of life on the sea gives the ever-reliable and always relatable Firth the chance to offer a subtle and nuanced turn as the woefully inept Crowhurst starts to face the reality of his situation.

The Mercy: Film Review

Despite what Thewlis' PR person bellows early on, ("it's a story of derring do, waiting to be told,") The Mercy is not that kind of film.

Maudlin and with some narrative edges that will require leaps if you're not familiar with the events that transpired for Crowhurst, it's a once over lightly psychological piece that skirts with the psyche of sailing rather than fully diving deeply in. Something which becomes deeply more evident in the film's final straight.

The Mercy never quite achieves the insight into Crowhurst that perhaps it's aiming for, but in translating the smaller details to the bigger screen, it's a little more successful than you'd expect, but also a little more disappointing if you're after something more substantial as it strays from its course. 

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Winchester: DVD Review

Winchester: DVD Review


Anchored in a potentially intriguing concept, The Spierig Brother's haunted house spooker Winchester is an exercise in genre ticking and trope crossing off.
Winchester: Film Review

Clark plays Dr Eric Price, a psychologist mired in guilt after the death of his wife, and fired up to the eyeballs in laudanum to try and cope with the day to day.

When he's called on to provide an assessment of Helen Mirren's Sarah Winchester, the proprietor of the Winchester Repeating Arms company, he's lured in by the promise of clearing all his debt for an easy job.

But Winchester's elusive, claiming a curse is hitting the house she's constantly having renovated - and as Price's time in the mansion continues, he begins to suspect she's right and that he's been chosen to be brought in...

Winchester has a kernel of an idea which could have hit the spot.

A gun company's owner plagued with guilt over the deaths of those at the hands of the weaponry she peddles and makes her fortune upon.

Winchester: Film Review

It's a great psychological idea, one which was ripe for a "What's real, what's not" approach.

Unfortunately, The Spierig Brothers, who delivered brilliantly with Predestination, seem more determined to fill the house with cliches and jump scares, that are rote, predictable and offer nothing new.

While they make reasonable fist of some of the atmospherics and some of the location, they wrap the whole thing up in a non-scary sheen that the only frightful thing going on is the level to which Helen Mirren and Jason Clark have sunk taking part in this clunker of a wannabe haunted house flick.
Mirren plays Winchester like a medium, swathed in black mourning gear, and with frightful pauses where there need not be. She lends Winchester the requisite dignity, but the script does her no favours.

Winchester: Film Review

Equally, Clark does what he can with a script that requires him to react. The direction even squanders the chance to offer some doubt over what he sees once he's taken his drugs, preferring to coat the whole thing in a blaring OST that signposts every single one of the beats of what lies ahead.

Ultimately, Winchester is far from scary - and the whole thing leaves you feeling the directors have wasted their considerable talents on a story that should have dabbled in ambiguity and doubt, but instead opted for generic and rote horror cliches. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Incredibles 2: Film Review

Incredibles 2: Film Review


Vocal cast: Craig Nelson, Holly Hunter, Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Samuel L Jackson
Director: Brad Bird

What to say about Incredibles 2 that's not already been said from a multi-million dollar US Box office take and glowing reviews?
Incredibles 2: Film Review

Starting the sequel just moments after the original ended nearly a decade and a half ago is a fairly bold move for an animated film that rarely rocks the boat in terms of storytelling but produces a terrific family flick that's well worth your time.

In the latest, when superheroes are outlawed for the mess they make, the Parrs face a life where the world doesn't want them.

But they're offered a lifeline when the wealthy Deavor siblings offer them the chance to make superheroes great again by using Elastigirl and some body cameras to show the world what they can do.

So, reluctantly, Mr Incredible steps back and into the role of domesticity while Elastigirl faces a new enemy - the Screenslaver.

Incredibles 2 ticks all the boxes for animation, blockbuster and family fare. (Even if parts feel distinctly more aimed at adults).
Incredibles 2: Film Review

While its 2 hour running time and some obvious plot points stand out, Bird's commitment to ensuring a modern day pastiche of spy drama from the 60s is more than commendable. From a big band OST from Michael Giacchino that is all brass and bluster to spy shenanigans, Incredibles 2 certainly zings as it zags.

From its action opening to some terrifically executed set pieces (Elastigirl vs a train being a well conceived highlight), the film never loses the audience from deep within its thrall. It's also smart enough to give baby Jack-Jack a raccoon nemesis and sequence that feels like an ACME  cum Scrat short film within the film to amuse the younger ends of the audience.

It's fair to say that perhaps the Parr family kids are a little underused - Dash, certainly, and Violet's slumped with a boy problem - but the film's commitment to female forward thinking is obvious from the start.

Slyly commentating on how stay-at-home mums do it all (Mr Parr ends up looking even more weary as the film goes on and he tries to juggle three kids) while putting Hunter's Elastigirl front and centre of it all is the film's smart modus operandi. And it's not just men who save the day here, but a family who pull together to make the difference - again, another positive message for those of all ages and of parenting role models.
Incredibles 2: Film Review

And there is commentary on how we're slaves to our screens too - it may have taken nigh on 15 years but Incredibles 2 hasn't held back from embracing the world as it is.

But make no mistake, while Incredibles 2 has sly intentions painted throughout its DNA, its veritable cinematic chutzpah is never in doubt either - it's a film committed to entertaining and does so terrifically throughout.

Sicario: Day Of The Soldado: Film Review

Sicario: Day Of The Soldado: Film Review


Cast: Josh Brolin, Benicio Del Toro, Jeffrey Donovan,  Catherine Keener, Isabela Moner
Director: Stefano Sollima

The start of Sicario: Rise of the Soldado plays out like some kind of fever dream for current events, discussions and a wet dream for US President Donald Trump.
Sicario: Day Of The Soldado: Film Review

Under the watchful night eye of a US squad, a group of hopeful migrants race toward the US border - but their fleeing freedom is stopped by soldiers. However, surrounded, one of them reveals they're wearing a suicide vest, before detonating it. Moments later, a group of nondescript men walk into a supermarket, and blow themselves up.

Visually, it's shocking and terrifyingly present as well as prescient.
Sicario: Day Of The Soldado: Film Review
Yet, unlike the opening of the original 2015 Sicario where bodies in walls were discovered, it lacks the subtlety of horror and sets the stage for what loosely could be defined as a Call Of Duty: Cartels version of the movie.

Returning once again are Josh Brolin's gruff Matt Graver who teams up with Benicio Del Toro's Alejandro as events begin to unfold. With the US Government deciding to sanction an illegal kidnapping operation to spiral a war between the cartels, the duo are thrust into the middle of proceedings as leader and recruit respectively.

However, as the operation goes on, the duo find their allegiances and their quests tested.

There's no denying the tension of the grim and gritty Sicario: Rise of the Soldado. Scenes unfold with sickening dread and as the knotty politics play out, there's a feeling that what's happening is not going to end well.

Wiry and spry, Del Toro is excellent, as is Brolin, whose actions convey more than his words could. In fact, both these two do more with less throughout as the spiralling threads of the web unravels - minimalism may be the soldier's way but these two make it watchable and compelling throughout.

And while the film's executed well, it feels less fresh and enticing as 2015's Sicario did. It lacks the addition of an innocent face in proceedings (as provided by Blunt's agent in the first flick) and consequently becomes a grim exploration of politics, rather than the human touch brought by the first.

There are elements of that humanity within Moner's performance, as she goes from hard-bitten scrapper-in-the-school-yard to victim of her father's connections, but it's nowhere near as strong as the previous narrative.
Sicario: Day Of The Soldado: Film Review

Sollima (TV's Gomorra) strings together a series of overhead shots, convoy tensions and scenes of conflict with certain directorial flair (even if the menacing OST drowns things out at times) and despite some grim humour, the film grips but never fully suffocates as the first did.

There are a collision of seemingly disparate but ultimately interconnected threads, but disappointingly, a last act moment loses power by the lack of courage of conviction of the writers.

This is a world that shocks, and to lessen the shocks of one such consequence is a disappointment and is one that shows the film to lack the cojones and volatility it needs.

Make no mistake though, Sicario: Rise of the Soldado is no less a compelling watch because of it, but the strength and power of the first Sicario still outshines what feels like a story that wants to shock and outrage but lacks the finesse to fully do so on a narrative front.


Tuesday, 26 June 2018

FF BRAVE EXVIUS & Just Cause 3 Collaboration

FF BRAVE EXVIUS & Just Cause 3 Collaboration




FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS LAUNCHES JUST CAUSE 3 COLLABORATION EVENT
Hit Mobile RPG Commemorates Second Year Milestone
with Limited-Time Events and In-Game Rewards

SYDNEY, 25th June 2018 –Square Enix Ltd., today announced that FINAL FANTASY® BRAVE EXVIUS®, the hit mobile RPG that has been downloaded more than 30 million times worldwide, celebrates its second successful year with a new Just Cause® 3 collaboration. This limited-time event introduces numerous characters and a Just Cause 3-themed event to FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS 
Starting today, Just Cause 3’s protagonist, Rico Rodriguez, and two additional characters, Mario Frigo and Annika Svennson, will be available through a featured summon, while a fourth character, Teo, will be available through a raid summon. Players can face off against Golden URGA Mstitel to obtain raid points to unlock various rewards.
A new trailer showcasing the Just Cause 3 collaboration can be viewed on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZSacEMKyMU
Additionally, during June and July, a variety of in-game bonuses and rewards will be made available to players in celebration of the second anniversary:
  • Login Bonuses – From 29th June – 11th July and 12th July to 31st July, players will be treated to generous second-anniversary rewards in addition to standard daily bonuses, including special 10+1 Summon Tickets that will guarantee at least one 5-star unit and 5-star Guaranteed EX ticket.
  • Free Daily Summon - From 29th June – 26th July, players may summon one character for free per day.
  • Players’ Vote Campaign - From 29th June – 11th July, all players may vote in-game to select one of four generous promotions, such as a daily free summon. The promotion that receives the most votes will be implemented in-game during the month of August.
  • Weapon Enhancements - Starting in mid-July, players may upgrade previously obtained weapons through a new limited-time stage, which will be a recurring event moving forward.
  • Half off stamina for story missions and trial battles, increased chances for bonus EXP when enhancing units, increased rank limits and much more.

Fans can also celebrate the game’s second anniversary from 8th - 9th December 2018 with fellow players at the FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS Fan Festa 2018 at the Long Beach Convention Center in California, USA. Event updates and information on how to purchase tickets will be available here: https://ffbefanfesta.com
FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS is available now through the App Store®, and Google Play. The game is available in six languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Chinese (traditional) and Korean.
Related Links:
Official Website: http://finalfantasyexvius.com/
Official FFBE Fan Festa Website: https://ffbefanfesta.com

Life is Strange 2 Ep 1 Release Date Announced

Life is Strange 2 Ep 1 Release Date Announced




LiS2_Full_logo

LIFE IS STRANGE™ 2 IS COMING SEPTEMBER 27, 2018

An all-new 5-episode story begins in September 2018


SYDNEY, 25th June 2018 – SQUARE ENIX® is delighted to announce that the DONTNOD Entertainment development team behind the critically acclaimed, award-winning narrative adventure, LIFE IS STRANGE™, will return with an all-new 5-episode story.

LIFE IS STRANGE™ 2 is coming to XBOX ONE®, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®4 and Windows PC on September 27th, 2018

Coming Soon to Los Santos

Coming Soon to Los Santos



Come July, the nightlife scene in Los Santos will get a major upgrade, thanks in part to the world class DJs – Solomun, Tale Of Us, Dixon, and The Black Madonna – set to take up residencies across new Nightclubs dotting the city.

A perfect cover for all illicit activities, Nightclubs can be customized, staffed, and promoted, offering players a brand new business opportunity.  

Please see below for full details, along with info on upcoming news.


Coming Soon to Los Santos
The nightlife scene in Los Santos is getting a major upgrade. Thanks to the efforts of one well-known, well-connected and somewhat financially sound impresario the underground dance club scene is about to blow open in July.
World class talent have announced their upcoming residencies in Los Santos and fans will soon be packing out clubs and warehouses across town to lose themselves in sweaty, ecstatic bliss to hear new sets from SolomunTale Of Us, Dixon and The Black Madonna while dancing through the night and into the morning.
Nightclubs are the perfect cover for any other operation you might have going, so get in on the ground level as a business partner to open up a brand new establishment, and help the DJ’s make their shows the best ever. Run your nightclub business from setup, design, staffing and promotion; the more popular the club, the faster your secure wall safe will fill up. Management is honest work, a tidy way to keep income from your more seedy ventures with Disruption Logistics, The Open Road, SecuroServ and Free Trade Shipping Co. looking clean as fresh laundry.
Stay tuned for more details, including how to get on the Guest List and earn exclusive rewards...

Official Call of Duty: WWII - United Front DLC 3 - "The Tortured Path" Nazi Zombies Trailer

Official Call of Duty: WWII - United Front DLC 3 - "The Tortured Path" Nazi Zombies Trailer


Good afternoon,

The Allied forces are crumbling under the relentless advance of the Final Reich. General Rideau decides to take one last, dangerous gambit: 

Transport the remaining pieces of Emperor Barbarossa’s legendary sword to the edge of the world. Make the sword whole again and deliver a final death to the Undying!

Watch the full trailer here.

The United Front DLC Pack 3 for Call of Duty®: WWII arrives June 27, first on PlayStation 4. For more info, head over here.

Monday, 25 June 2018

NZIFF 2018 - Talking the film festival with director Bill Gosden

NZIFF 2018 - Talking the film festival with director Bill Gosden


You've hit 50, how does that feel?
It’s the new 35.
NZIFF Festival Director Bill Gosden

Give me some recollections of your very first festival
My first involvement with the AIFF, as it was, was in 1979 and the first recollections are of a strained relationship. I was the administrator of the Wellington Film Festival, which sourced and supplied a substantial number of films every year to Auckland. Search the brochure of the 11th AIFF for any evidence of that contribution, and you won’t find it. That’s pretty much the way it was. After an impressive first decade guided by Wynne Colgan and a committee of cinephiles, the AIFF had dispensed with their services and become an adjunct of the Auckland Festival Society, primarily a live arts events (no relation to the current Auckland Festival). Ironically they still depended on a Film Society further south for much of the programme.
AIFF at that point enjoyed much better relationships with the theatre chains than we bolshie Wellingtonians, and Auckland festivalgoers were treated to the latest of studio-distributed auteur cinema, Days of Heaven, Diner,  great films by Robert Altman and Louis Malle, for example, that Wellingtonians would have to wait months to see. That rankled too.
Before censor Arthur Everard began passing explicit sex videos around 1985, there was money to be had from exhibiting highly restricted movies. In the early 1980s the AIFF was famous for doing just that.  Zeitgeisty films like Rosier the Riveter or My Dinner with André were relegated to weekday matinee sessions, while films carrying the RFF20 certificate – classified as fit only for festival sophisticates -  took headline slots. In AIFF publicity the Canadian anti-porn polemic, Not a Love Story sounded like the very thing it set out to abolish.
Such provocations did not always land well, and there was a mood for change, ushering the return of the Film Society to the fold from 1984.

What are you doing to mark 50 - many remember the celebration booklets, the wonderful poster work - will we get to see them again?
There will be a show of posters and other memorabilia at the ASB Waterfront.
We’ve received some great stories of Festivals past which you can find here. All contributions welcome at 50@nziff.co.nz.
https://www.nziff.co.nz/about/history/celebrating-50-years-in-auckland/
NZIFF 50 years on

What can we expect from your pre-film messaging boards this year - they've become quite the art form, telling people to shush?
We are working on it. Now that some of our best lines grace other cinema screens there’s a challenge to come up with new ones.

It seems like there have been some excellent catches this year from Cannes - you must be happy?
Totally. Shoplifters, Leto, Climax, Girl, 3 Faces, Border, Mirai, Woman at War, the utterly dazzling Cold War, the lovely Grand Bal, the nutso Diamantino… The 30 Cannes films this year have brought enormous variety. Most were secured in the two weeks before deadline. It was an exciting rush to the finish.
Lynyrd Skynyrd
What are the themes for this year's festival - has there been an upsurge in any kind of film-making / any reaction to what's going on in the world?
The themes come to us, we don’t go looking for them.
It’s a big year for Canine Cinema. Parenting is a recurrent theme.
There are more gay women on screen than ever before. Some of the strongest films engage with contemporary social injustice with disarming stealth and grace. It’s a bonanza year for music films, and dance animates every section of the programme, Incredibly Strange included.

The Retro selection which you've curated more than makes up for the lack of an Autumn Events this year - what's the one film which we should bust a gut to see and why?
There are compelling reasons in 2018 to see every one of these films, imho.
They are not ‘Best of’, but were chosen to reflect something of the range of experiences NZIFF has always offered. The flavours of the times that shaped these films remain sharp in each one of them. The world may have moved on but these films still speak their truth vividly and directly.
 Cria Cuervos and The General are two all-time favourites (and not just of mine), so I was especially delighted that both are newly available in superb restorations. Wim Wenders himself says that Wings of Desire looks better than ever in 4K, that the digital processing of B&W takes you much closer to master cinematographer Henri Alekan’s original vision than 1980s printing on 35mm colour film stock ever could.

I'm intrigued by Good Manners, Eldorado, and Custody - tell me more about these.
Good Manners really is one of those less-you-know deals. It slides craftily from genre to genre, incorporating social satire, romance and the Gothic compulsion of an Angela Carter novel. Eldorado struck me as the most informative of the many documentaries on offer about the refugee crisis that impacts so directly on Italy and thereby so alarmingly on the future of Europe. Custody is visceral cinema, an amazingly powerful debut about a ferocious child custody battle.

Leave No Trace looks like it signals the advent of a homegrown talent - do you expect this combination of Winter's Bone and Thomasin Harcourt Mackenzie to be big?
It certainly deserves to be. It’s a spellbinding film, incredibly wise and generous in spirit. We are delighted that Debra Granik will join us in Auckland and Wellington.

A farewell to Harry Dean Stanton as well - seems like something poignant for the 50th?
Lucky was perfect for him. RIP, Repo Man.
Skate Kitchen
Skate Kitchen

I'm hearing very good things about Skate Kitchen....
When these young women take to the streets of Manhattan on their boards, you want to be them.

Equally, The Guilty....

The Danish flair for crime and detection distilled into a more gripping one-man-and-a-phone thriller than Tom Hardy’s Locke.

Tell me about your opening night film Birds of Passage.
A visionary blend of genre filmmaking and indigenous fable.  A knock-out on the giant screen.

Honestly, there seems to be so much diversity this year, has it been hard to fit all the pieces together?
It’s not like a jigsaw (see Puzzle) where there’s an actual solution. We know we will always be posing some hard choices for the most avid festival-goers.

What's the one film you reckon the audiences shouldn't miss?
No film is for everyone, but The General surely comes close.
Buster Keaton in The General
The General

The one film you want to be a big hit with festival-goers.
The one? Are you kidding?

The one film you think everyone will be talking about.
The fashion films are amazing this year. Yellow is Forbidden and McQueen offer all the visual extravagance you could want, but both talk about so much more than clothes. The Vivienne Westwood film is a hoot: she really is the inveterate punk, present but uncooperative throughout the film. She has subsequently disowned it. Do NOT let that put you off.

The one film you think everyone should be talking about.
Holiday is the most provocative outside Ant’s programme. But once again ‘one’ is an intolerable limitation. Capharnaum promises to be the word-of-mouth hit in the way Call Me by Your Name was last year, though for quite different reasons. And nothing made me laugh more in the last year than Chilly Gonzales crowd surfing a Viennese concert hall in Shut Up and Play the Piano.
Holiday
Holiday

And the one film from Ant's programme that you're crazy about.

Liquid Sky.  Unadulterated pre-AIDS 1980s hedonism and fuck-you glam without the filters of hindsight. I also look forward to taking a prime seat at the Civic for Climax, the contemporary equivalent.
Climax from Gaspar Noe
Climax

Just finally, reflecting back on 50 years of the Festival, what have been the changes you've seen in the films, both internationally and locally - and the one thing that makes you proudest about the impact the Festival has annually? 
Changes? There have been too many to address here.
I’m proud that we have kept pace, even set the pace on occasion.  The Film Festival retains its place in the heart of Auckland amongst events and on-screen choices that have exploded beyond the wildest imagining of that optimistic group who set out to invigorate our film-going - and our film-making - in 1969.

2018 New Zealand International Film Festival launches

2018 New Zealand International Film Festival launches


More than 150 films to screen at NZIFF in Auckland

Auckland NZIFF programme launched for 2018


The full programme for the 50th New Zealand International Film Festival has been launched in Auckland this evening. 155 feature-length films from 40 countries will screen over 18 days beginning on Thursday 19 July.

The festival turns 50 in Auckland this year and a series of retrospective screenings are planned to mark the anniversary.

“I believe we have kept faith with that optimistic group who set out to invigorate our film-going - and our filmmaking – back in 1969. We have kept pace with enormous change – and even set the pace from time to time. While Aucklanders’ entertainment options have expanded immeasurably, I am delighted that NZIFF can still make an occasion out of a night at the movies,” says NZIFF Director Bill Gosden.

The line-up of retrospective films has been programmed by Gosden to screen in amongst the world and New Zealand premieres selected for the festival to reflect the range of cinema experiences that 
NZIFF has celebrated across the last 50 years. The retrospective screenings will culminate in the screening of Buster Keaton’s The General at the Civic with live musical performance by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, on Sunday 5 August. An exhibition of NZIFF posters and newspaper clippings from the archives will be displayed at the ASB Waterfront Theatre during festival season.

Canines provide snappy contributions to the NZIFF line-up this year: NZ-made documentary Dog’s Best Friend looks at the work in an Australian animal rehabilitation centre; Pick of the Litter follows the breeding and training programme for guide dogs for the visually impaired; Dogman is the Cannes Competition crime thriller from the director of Gomorrah about a gentle dog groomer who attempts to pacify a human beast.

NZIFF have previously announced that 29 films direct from the Cannes Film Festival are confirmed to screen. Eleven are from the Competition section of the festival including Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters, Jury Prize winner Capharnaüm and Best Screenplay winners (tied) 3 Faces and Happy As LazzaroBirds of Passage, the opening night film from the 2018 Directors’ Fortnight will also be opening NZIFF in Auckland on Thursday 19 July. Cold War from Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski (Ida), winner of the Best Director prize, will screen as the official closing night film of NZIFF. 

Of the 155 feature-length films in the programme, 49 are features or documentaries by female filmmakers. Eleven New Zealand-made films, including six world premieres in Auckland, have previously been announced.

The full Auckland NZIFF programme is available online now: https://www.nziff.co.nz/2018/auckland/

Dark Souls Remastered: PS4 Review

Dark Souls Remastered: PS4 Review


Released by Bandai Namco

Platform: PS4

So, why would you want to punish yourself again?
Dark Souls Remastered: PS4 Review

We all know how depressingly hard Dark Souls can be at the best of times, but the remaster which has relaunched is here to remind you of the fresh hell that there is.

2011 saw From Software's game vault into everyone's best of lists, and saw you die repeatedly as you made your way through an obtuse adventure, aimed at rekindling your perseverance and your desire to be repeatedly punished.

So it's fair to say that the remaster, aside from its improved frame rates and the fact it packs in the Artorias of the Abyss DLC, means you've played it before. It's a shame there's nothing radically new to be added to the mix, but in fairness, Dark Souls is a good game - but given since its launch we've add Nioh, Bloodborne and others, it seems to exist solely on the fact that nostalgia for the game is there to be used.
Dark Souls Remastered: PS4 Review

The RPG elements still work well, and the game still appeals, but given we're about to get a splurge of new content from E3 and that new games are still around to be played (Far Cry 5, God of War's much revitalised revamp), it's hard to fuylly justify why this remaster exists.

The improvement in graphics is welcome, but given everything plays as it did before, the idea of it even existing is puzzling.
Dark Souls Remastered: PS4 Review

Whereas other remasters have built on their previous versions, this one seems to be a bit of a soulless remaster that exists purely because a marketing team said it should.

It's not unplayable, and it's not like the polish isn't welcome, but Dark Souls Remastered needs a little more of a raison d'etre.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Onrush: PS4 Review

Onrush: PS4 Review


Released by Codemasters
Platform: PS4

A racing game that is more of a bubblegum thrill rather than a long-term proposition, Onrush is all about how it feels rather than how it keeps pulling you back in.

Simply put, this is a racing game that requires you to rollerderby the opposition, filling up your boost and giving you the chance to unleash a vehicle's special ability. Nothing more, nothing less.
Onrush: PS4 Review

Sure there are heats, there are challenges (such as Countdown, where you have to race through gates before the clock runs out on either you or your opposition) and sure there are vicarious thrills as you pile and wipeout your opposition.

Taking in elements of the PS One classic Rollcage, mixing in any variant of Mario Kart and adding in elements of WipeOut, Onrush, when it clicks, is thrilling. Codemasters have pulled together a game that is as arcade as they come, a smoothly executed ride that's a shot of adrenaline.

But, to be frank, it's all a hollow thrill.

The game's instantly forgettable after you finish, and to a degree, disposable as you play it.
Sure the graphics and playability are smooth; sure, the game's regions are nicely executed, and also look graphically impressive, and sure, there's no glitching as you hurtle around the tracks.
Onrush: PS4 Review

And yet, progression, with its unlocking of loot crates, and its collecting of XP, emotes et al, seems a bit pointless in the long run.

Online, the game flounders, and joining games and matches when it works, sees you essentially apparently joining the end of the game and wondering why the machine even bothered. IT needs a retool and the hope is that this can be the case soon, because online's competitive ability could be one to mine.

It's a shame for Onrush, because Codemasters have pulled together a game that when it works actually fires on all cylinders. But it's a bit directionless at times, and with a retool, and a tweak over what it wants to achieve, Onrush really could be a great addition to the pantheon of arcade racers.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Game Night: DVD Review

Game Night: DVD Review


Mixing irreverence with edges of drama and wrapping it up in a kookiness grants Game Night a feel of crackling edginess for a comedy.
Game Night: Film Review

Tapping into the ennui that affects the middle class and using Bateman's usual laconic deadpan ways, it's the story of Max and Annie (Bateman, McAdams) a normal suburban couple who like to gather their friends together for a regular weekly game night.

But Max's competitive and always wants to win (as shown in a charming montage early on) - however, he finds against a backdrop of fertility struggles, that his competitive edge is further enraged and engaged when his brother Brooks (Friday Night Lights' Kyle Chandler) comes to town.
Brooks sets a game night down for them, but decides it'll be a murder mystery with one of their number being kidnapped.

However, it soon turns out that the planned Game Night wasn't what was on the cards - and a fight for survival begins...

Game Night: Film Review

Game Night is fresh, spiky and genuinely funny in parts.

Even if its denouement packs too many twists for general consumption and tries to be a bit cleverer than it actually is, its general desire to subvert expectations is a welcome one.

Sure, the usual messages are there - about being open with partners, honest with friends etc, but the hugging and learning portion feels earned in the final furlong - and amuses rather than overtly preaches.

It's nice to see McAdams cut loose a little and have some fun, and Catastrophe's Horganmakes an impressive big film debut , but this is, without a doubt, Plemons' film.

Game Night: Film Review

As the sadsack former member of the group and creepy divorced neighbour, this security guard is a delight as the cameras hang on his words and actions perhaps a little too long so as to make things uncomfortable and uncertain.

Daley and Goldstein's eyes behind the camera proffer up some interesting shots too - from high-in-the-sky shots which make the sets look like board games to fixed cameras in chases, the film's freshness leaps from the screen too.

Game Night: Film Review

Ultimately, the crackling Game Night may have edges of Funny Game and some genuinely laugh-out-loud moments, but its quirky irreverence towards the buddy dynamic and mixing up of various genres means it proves to be a winner for a refreshing night out and proves to be a game winner. 

Friday, 22 June 2018

Tomb Raider: Blu Ray Review

Tomb Raider: Blu Ray Review


Tomb Raider has two things going for it.

Thankfully, it's not the pendulous breasts bestowed on the first iteration of one of gaming's earliest icons that gave the character the notoriety and various lads' mags covers in the UK.

Tomb Raider: Film Review

Its two things of note are Academy award winning actress Alicia Vikander's committed performance and the fact some of its action scenes are drawn from the gritty and immersive game reboot from 2013.

But, sadly it's what lies in between that saddles Tomb Raider with problems and ends up leaving you feeling that this film may be the Tomb Raider's flash in the pan (even though, Vikander's signed up for a sequel).

Rejigging plot from the 2013 game, Vikander is Lara Croft, heir to a fortune, but who's denying that because it means admitting her father (Dominic West) is dead, after he went missing seven years ago.

When she stumbles across a series of clues that apparently lead to his last whereabouts, Lara charters a boat, along with its captain Lu Ren (Daniel Wu) who was the last man to see him.

But the pair stumble onto an island, barely surviving a storm and treacherous seas, where a deeper conspiracy begins to unfurl...one which has the Crofts squarely in the middle of it.

The problem with the 2018 reboot of Tomb Raider is that it largely feels like it's trying to set up a franchise, rather than concentrating fully on doing its job properly.

Tomb Raider: Film Review

Lara Croft herself benefits from the reboot, with Vikander nailing both the vulnerability and relatability that the game's reboot endowed her with, and that was so lacking in Angelina Jolie's performance.

An animated Vikander commits fully to the role; whether it's the action sequences (ripped faithfully and reverentially from the game) or the lacklustre dialogue and plot she's saddled with.

The film's lack of engaging success is not down to her - she's the best thing about this female-led blockbuster, that lacks a romantic interest or bizarrely, any other women. She has degrees of depth (especially when she makes her first hand-to-hand kill), and a frailty that the game's Croft had. Coupled with a sense of her finding herself and her place in the world, Vikander can hold her head up high and bat away the oncoming criticism.

However, it's in the other elements that Tomb Raider feels as hoary as a ripped off Indiana Jones film ever could.

Tomb Raider: Film Review

Uthaug launches the film with energy and gusto until the island chases and fights rear their head, with the wind going out of the sails the moment the adventure's supposed to start.

From clunky narrative coincidences to an over-reliance on flashbacks between Croft and her dad, from an overuse of voiceover as exposition to barely enough plot to fill the two hour run time, the film squanders some of its chances.


It's not helped by one dimensional henchmen and a weak overall villain (Walton Goggins) who's never really given the chance to cut loose as much as he could.

The conclusion of the film feels anti-climactic, a rote redoing of all the usual tropes of the genre, meshing up The Mummy, zombies, and fights that leaves you feeling as much deja vu as wishing there had been some buried treasure unearthed in the plot department rather than relying on what's been buried in a tomb.

The visceral edges which channel the very best of the game's reboot, coupled with the fact it's a female-led film with an Asian sidekick means that Tomb Raider is doing some things right as it launches in an ever-changing media landscape.



But underneath the spit and polish of the regeneration, there's a nagging feeling that what passes in Tomb Raider is all too familiar - and as a conclusion cliffhanger dangles perilously in front of your very eyes, there's a worry that the bloodless, lacking-real-edge Tomb Raider reboot may be consigned to history, rather than launching a series of ever-more impressive sequels.