Friday, 15 February 2019

Fahrenheit 11/9: DVD Review

Fahrenheit 11/9: DVD Review

In a case of it's unclear whether the world has got so crazy that it matches Michael Moore's sense of craziness, Fahrenheit 11/9 is an odd film that is wildly missold by its poster image.
Fahrenheit 11/9: Film Review

With the figure of Donald Trump swinging on the golf course as the White House explodes in the background, you'd be pushed into thinking that the documentary is a takedown of Trump. And rightly so, as Moore's seething anger has been on show for all to see.

But what Moore does with Fahrenheit 11/9 is more to build a case for how America was leading to this already and the dire state of the US political scene, and citizens' landscape.

While drawing some lazy comparisons to Trump as Hitler, the large portion of Moore's latest is more about exposing the continuing devastation of Flint, as initially chronicled in Roger and Me. Returning to the story of how the contaminated water is killing the inhabitants there, Moore tries a stunt as well with the powers that be.

Fahrenheit 11/9: Film Review

But much like portions of this documentary, it feels wildly off base, as Moore rambles through his own past, through America's disillusionments, and his quest to push back against the current - and past - regimes; even Obama doesn't get off lightly.

If anything, Fahrenheit 11/9 is more a rallying cry for the end of democracy, with a speech at the end intoning "If this is the America we're trying to save, maybe ask yourself why. It didn't need to end up like this - and it still doesn't. Evil is a slow moving organism. We didn't need comfort, we needed action. Sometimes it takes a Donald Trump to wake up and realise."

All in all, Fahrenheit 11/9 suffers from the fact reality is too devastating for Moore's formerly incisive eyes; someone more in control of their critical abilities could have shaped this occasionally overlong piece into something more lean and more damning.

As it is, Fahrenheit 11/9 flounders a little, and merely blows hot air, when perhaps it should seethe with rage. 

Thursday, 14 February 2019

A Star is Born: Blu Ray Review

A Star is Born: Blu Ray Review

In truth, A Star Is Born's fourth iteration doesn't mess with the formula of those that have gone before it.
A Star Is Born: Film Review

While Bradley Cooper's directorial turn sees him framing Lady Gaga close up and letting her stripped back voice do the soaring, much of A Star Is Born makes for queasy viewing in a post MeToo world.
Cooper is Jackson Maine, a hard-drinking pill-popping long time veteran of the music scene, a MOR artist destined to fill stadiums, but whose love for the job is dwindling as his tinnitus grows ever stronger.

One night, after a concert, Maine stops off at a drag bar looking for his next booze fix, and is wowed by the on-stage performance of Ally (Gaga) who burns the stage down with her version of La Vie En Rose.

Swooping in on her, Maine nurtures an attraction, and believes he sees a kindred spirit in Ally, whose self-destruction is at the cost of belief in herself as a singer / performer. However, with a bit of coaching and some throwing under the bus, Ally begins to blossom, as Maine's career and star begins to fall.

A Star Is Born: Film Review

Billed as a romance, and try as one might, the overriding feeling of A Star Is Born leaves a queasy feeling it's more about domestic and emotional abuse than a star-crossed romance. And an icky one about male-fuelled control as well, given how Ally is moulded by both Maine, the music industry and a controlling manager.

While the concert scenes are incredible and Cooper manages to inject some spine-tingling touches into their exuberant execution, the fairytale side of A Star Is Born feels blessed with some corny dialogue that is fudged in the exposition.

Still, it's already proven that this is what audiences lap up, and while the unevenness of events hits the film's second half, Lady Gaga's Ally truly shines when the screen needs it the most.

It's clear Cooper as the director is in love with Gaga's voice and physique, framing her in close ups and excluding others in the handheld execution, touches which enhance the sheer power of her voice.

In truth she delivers a competent performance as Ally, from wide-eyed innocent to blossoming talent to troubled wife, Gaga delivers more of a gamut and arc than Cooper's Maine does.

Solid support comes from Elliott who appears in a clutch of scenes as Maine's brother, and delivers more than his keeper-of-the-demons-at-the-door role would have you invest in.

A Star Is Born: Film Review

A Star Is Born is a little too overlong and indulgent to fully succeed in the romance stakes - it does bless us with a cinematic talent that's already been nurtured in American Horror Story.

But to be honest, the over-riding uneasy feeling of control, abuse and male power, along with talk of how this will be showered with Oscars sits at odds with a world one year after MeToo was born.

It may not have been Cooper's intention and audiences may be lapping this up as a star-crossed romance for our times, but A Star Is Born is an odd experience, part concert tour footage and part blast from the past promotion of male privilege. 

Happy Death Day 2U: Film Review

Happy Death Day 2U: Film Review

Cast: Jess Rothe, Phi Vu, Rachel Matthews, Israel Broussard, Suraj Sharma, Sarah Yarkin
Director: Christopher Landon

Happy Death Day 2U: Film Review
2017's Happy Death Day was a blast; a slasher that combined Groundhog Day with some genuine scares, and a character arc for its more than charismatic lead, you'd almost be surprised it was never done before.

But unlike the first, this latest sidelines the scares for a more loopy sci-fi spin on what's happening to Tree Gelbman (Rothe, easily the star of this show), who once again finds herself caught in a murderous day time and time again.

Happy Death Day 2U deserves some commendation for trying something different, and while the beginning wrong foots you - in a clever manner - Rothe soon commands front and centre of this mesh up of Groundhog Day, Scream, Quantum Leap, The Big Bang Theory, Happy Death Day and bizarrely frat movies where kids take on the dean.

The resultant mix is less a mess, more a showcase of Rothe's range as the silliness gets ramped up, pushing the slasher edges to the back (which is a real shame). Certainly, the last third of the film veers too far into dumb comedy territory as the multiverse mentality comes to the fore, and the Frat
House shenanigans take precedence.
Happy Death Day 2U: Film Review

It's almost too slapstick to hit where it should - but Rothe holds it gamely together with a depth that helps elevate the material and the icky sentimentality. (Though a skydiving scene is brilliant in its execution.)

And yet, despite this, Happy Death Day 2U deserves some kudos for not repeating itself (ironically, given the nature of the first, and the premise of the latest).

It's inevitable there will be a third genre mesh-up (Happy D3ath Day, anyone?) and it's inherent on those behind it to maybe inject some of the scares back in - unless they completely go off book for the genres in the trilogy.
Happy Death Day 2U: Film Review

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

District 9 director Neill Blomkamp partners with Anthem

District 9 director Neill Blomkamp partners with Anthem

EA and Bioware have teamed up with acclaimed director Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium, and Chappie) to create a live-action short film, based on the world of Anthem.

Today, Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) and Neill Blomkamp, the Academy Award-nominated director of District 9, Elysium, and Chappie, have announced that they have collaborated on Conviction, an original live-action short-film based on BioWare’s Anthem™. In Conviction, Blomkamp brings the vast world of Anthem to life with his own story set decades before the beginning of the game. This live-action short invites viewers to experience Blomkamp’s unique style of creating photorealistic visual effects and bringing them seamlessly into the real world, this time with EA’s highly-anticipated new game. 

A teaser of Blomkamp’s Conviction is now live, with the full short going live February 14 on the Oats Studios YouTube channel. In the short, people will see the player city of Fort Tarsis in the game come to life, and the freelancers that live within it. These freelancers who use Javelin exosuits, have been re-created by Neill’s team to show them in live action as they fight off the main villain and head of the evil Dominion faction, the Monitor.
Anthem: Conviction

“I was really blown away by this incredible world BioWare created the very first time I saw Anthem,” said Neill Blomkamp. “Conviction sets the stage with a narrative that touches on Anthem’s beautiful and immersive world, which is ripe for exploration by these powerful Javelins. A world where danger is lurking on every ledge and in each valley.”

In Anthem, players can play with up to three friends to explore and battle in a dangerous, mysterious world with great characters and a unique BioWare story. As freelancers, players don Javelin exosuits, making them powerful heroes with strong weapons and incredible special abilities to help them survive in an ever-changing, unfinished world. Players will be able to customize and personalize their Javelins with unique paint jobs and gear so they’ll have the right tools to confront almost any situation and look good doing it. As players work together to find vast ruins, defeat deadly enemies and claim otherworldly artifacts, they’ll be unlocking their own individual story fighting against The Dominion, a ferocious militaristic society.

Players can unleash their power in Anthem worldwide on February 22 for Origin for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Bohemian Rhapsody: DVD Review

Bohemian Rhapsody: DVD Review

To be honest, Bohemian Rhapsody does not, and will not, care for what critics think.
Bohemian Rhapsody: Film Review

This broad, crowd-pleasing attempt to turn Queen's life story - and ultimately, that of Freddie Mercury - into a cinematic experience, is more akin to putting an inordinate amount of money into a jukebox and blasting out Queen's Greatest Hits on repeat, with Brian May's guitar riffs ultimately numbing you into submission..

That is to say, the Antony McCarten-penned biopic is electric and offers a kind of magic only when its lead Rami Malek prances around on stage, overbite and all, effecting the mannerisms of Mercury himself and the flamboyancy of performance. It's here that Malek just about manages to transcend his "Stars In Their Eyes" moment to remind you of why these songs endure.

Unfortunately, it's all the rest of what sits in between the culmination of the Live Aid performance and Queen experimenting with their sound that feels like a bum B-side, depressingly put out solely because the label demands it.

Bohemian Rhapsody: Film Review

Racing formulaically between narrative beats, and hitting every familiar moment of a rags-to-riches story - including family tensions and subsequent resolutions, Bohemian Rhapsody suffers from plodding plotting, a defiant coyness over the star's bisexuality and rampant hedonistic lifestyle and also offers an insulting nod'n'wink at hidden gay sexuality throughout. (It's no wonder Frankie Howerd's Up Pompeii is playing on a TV early on).

In many ways, it feels like a three act West End musical in its execution (though some drone shots at the Live Aid performance at the end are thrilling, a sense of spectacle and scale evident in every swoop from the skies through the crowd and to Freddie himself on stage) and is pigheadedly determined to ensure that it provides more dancing to the crowd as it dances around its subject, and subsequently provides rarely any insight into Mercury other than what the downpat story beats demand of it.

Bohemian Rhapsody: Film Review

While Malek is transcendant at times, and occasionally sells the internal conflict of Mercury well, he's let down massively by a script that's as formulaic as it is predictable.

Ultimately, Bohemian Rhapsody is more interested in serving a crowd a slice of rock'n'roll pie than providing a full meal - heaven alone knows what Freddie would have made of it. 

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Just Cause 4: PS4 Review

Just Cause 4: PS4 Review

Released by Square Enix
Developed by Avalanche Studios
Platform: PS4

Just Cause 3 was a blast; a game where logic defied the odds, and where physics was a concept rather than a reality.
Just Cause 4: PS4 Review

But it was also a game that took its action movie roots seriously and progressed the story of revolution via Rico Rodriguez. Above all that it was also fun.

Just Cause 4, somewhat disappointingly, is a case of more of the same. But with a few technical issues marring the actual gameplay as well as new gadgets to tweak

This time, Rodriguez is taking on the Black Hand, a group of mercenaries last seen in the previous episodes as they sweep over Solis, a fictional South American country. But factored in this time to issues within Solis, Rodriguez has to deal with weather problems as well...and a father figure hides in the background

Just Cause 4 has a kernel of a good game within, but developers have over-complicated some of the gadgets in the hope of tweaking the system and improving on what was already done. It's a tough line to negotiate, embrace and enhance the past, but also try something new - and Avalanche don't quite get there.

Rico's trusty grappling hook has the ability to be updated with the chance to launch tethers with balloons on them to hoist people up and cars as well; or thrusters to do much the same. They're nice additions to have but difficult to execute in combat in reality. There's little time to quickly equip them and fire them off unless you plan ahead.
Just Cause 4: PS4 Review

The reality is that Just Cause 4 feels like a progression of the third instalment; the flight abilities with wingsuits and parachutes still work incredibly well, shifting you around the world with speed and panache.

And the open world has potential but the place feels a little empty in places, with large swathes of fields having nothing but combatants within. Bolstering the army of rebels is one of the sole causes of the game, causing regions to be gradually liberated, and squads to push back the Black Hand factions.

It takes a little time to master the map skills, and the upgrade system as well; it's not intuitive and does feel a little over-complicated in parts. Extreme weather is nicely executed, but it's seldom the game-changer you'd be expecting, given the fanfare that comes with it.

Once Just Cause 4 has some of your time, you begin to realise the game's core mechanics are the same they have ever been - destruction is the name of the game still, and Just Cause 4's commitment to OTT set explosive pieces brings the fun that you'd expect.

There's a lot of repetition in the side missions and the main story as well, so you'd be forgiven for simply tooling up Rico and heading out into the world to see what happens - it's never as exciting as you'd expect and the feeling of deja vu is disappointing in some ways.

Ultimately Just Cause 4 does what it says on the tin - nothing more, nothing less.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Border: Film Review

Border: Film Review

Riffing on the actual borders of a country and also the borders of what lengths humanity will go to, Swedish drama Border is a curio of a film, anchored by a tenacious lead.

Based on a short story by Let The Right One In's John Ajvide Lindqvist, it's the story of Tina, a misfit integrated into society, who literally has a nose for trouble, but who sits on the fringes of the outside world.
Border: NZIFF Review

Working as a border agent, and with an ability to sniff out guilt on people, Tina's a loner, separated by her looks from others, and with a father whose spiralling illness and dementia is further heightening her feeling of separation.

However, one day when Tina sniffs out another like her at the border, she finds her world changed.

Border is an intriguing mix of supernatural edges and drama as well as an interesting look at identity.
Eva Melander imbues Tina and her overbite neanderthal look with a great deal of heart and hesitancy.

Sniffing the air, second guessing herself and also using a sixth sense to connect to animals around her, Tina is a character out of place, but Melander's portrayal of her is never anything less than a lost soul trapped in a world she appears at odds with.

Themes of identity and embracing your own imperfections sit alongside Border's darker grittier edges (the likes of which are sadly spoilers to discuss) but director Ali Abbasi keeps the mystery rattling along - but never at the cost of the "human" element.

While the back third of the film suffers a little from some of its reveals, the tenacious performance of Melander helps overcome some of the narrative foibles, added in by a series of writers (including Holiday's director Isabella Eklof) and expanding from the original story.

At its heart, Border is about the borders between light and dark; but equally, it's actually more about the borders of the self and identity.

It's one of the more genre audacious films in the festival and proffers an intriguing insight into another world - and our own humanity. 

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Alita: Battle Angel: Film Review

Alita: Battle Angel: Film Review

Cast: Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Ed Skrein, Mahersha Ali
Director: Robert Rodriguez

Little more than the sum of its hollow parts, Alita: Battle Angel is a spectacle bar none.
Alita: Battle Angel: Film Review

Sat with James Cameron for the best part of two decades, the CGI movie, which meshes cyberpunk with Young Adult sensibilities (not always successfully, one may add) is an interesting start to the beginning of a hopeful franchise.

Taken from the Manga source material Battle Angel Alita, Waltz is Dr Dyson Ido, a cyber-surgeon in a city several centuries in the future. Finding a cyborg with a functioning heart in the scrapyard, Ido rebuilds her in the hope that she will live again.

But when Alita (Salazar, recently seen in Bird Box) comes around, she has no memory of who or what she is. Hunted for what she represents, Alita finds her world turned upside down as she regains flashes of who she is.
Alita: Battle Angel: Film Review

It's fair to say that Alita: Battle Angel looks incredible.

The mix of the CGI realisation and the integration of technology with human edges is nothing short of flawless, and Salazar brings life to the CGI character lead, lending a heart that's needed.

Alita's wide eyes may suggest innocence and be in keeping with anime's trademarks, but it also helps the character stand out from the crowd, as she's forced to deliver some truly groan-worthy dialogue, ripped from the pages of a pulpy Young Adult novel, via some Nicholas Sparks style imagery.

Waltz adds humanity to his doctor, ensuring that the paternal relationship hits the right notes, even if it follows down the well-worn paths of any father-daughter movie.

It's Alita's mix of familiar that stops the film from feeling truly original; from elements of Rollerball crossed with Transformers, portions of the City that Never Sleeps Spider-Man DLC, via Detroit:
Becoming Human, Ghost In the Shell elements, to a love story in among separated societies that was part of Mortal Engines, there's an incredible sense of deja vu on show here, coupled with a feeling that the story's as low stakes as it could be, with frustrating hints proffered of what could come in a future instalment.
Alita: Battle Angel: Film Review

Whether that does eventuate will be another matter entirely, and certainly in the film's back 20 minutes, the feeling of resolution is frustrated by out-of-character character behaviours that don't gel and jar the flow.

Ultimately, Alita: Battle Angel is a worthy attempt at something new and is visionary in its visual execution once again (as you'd expect from Cameron et al) - but once again, a sci-fi epic is frustratingly hamstrung by its human edges, and its lack of commitment to tone that leaves Alita floundering for a USP in an ever-crowded pantheon of franchise wannabes.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

This Week in GTA Online: The Schyster Deviant Muscle Car, Schyster T-Shirt Unlock, Double GTA$ & RP Opportunities, Weekend Bonuses and More

This Week in GTA Online: The Schyster Deviant Muscle Car, Schyster T-Shirt Unlock, Double GTA$ & RP Opportunities, Weekend Bonuses and More

Southern San Andreas’ roads get a little beefier with the arrival of the Schyster Deviant muscle car, now available at Legendary Motorsport. Players can also log in anytime this week to receive a free Schyster T-shirt, along with opportunities to receive GTA$50,000 and rare vehicle manufacturer and DJ T-Shirts for each delivered Business Battle Crate.

Double GTA$ & RP opportunities abound this week in the new RC Bandito Races and likewise for those looking to settle scores in Trading Places (Remix). Nightclub owners will also receive a 2X Boost on Nightclub Popularity from Nightclub Management missions during the same period, along with a doubling of Nightclub Income.

Players can continue earning a GTA$250K reward for logging in each weekend this February, with the possibility of being awarded up to GTA$1M in total.

Please see below for further details, including discounts on select Properties and Vehicles and more.

Once upon a time the Deviant was considered an underdog in the muscle car field. But in the land of opportunity, an underdog is only a genetically-engineered monstrosity in waiting, and that’s something Team Schyster know all too well. Revamped, remodeled, re-engineered and released on the unsuspecting streets of Los Santos, the Schyster Deviant is back with a point to prove - available now at Legendary Motorsport. 
Challenge miniscule racers at major stakes with Double GTA$ & RP on the recently released RC Bandito Races all week long, then settle the age-old conflict between Beast and Juggernaut to earn double rewards on Trading Places (Remix) for the same period.
Pack the house at twice the speed this week with a 2X Boost on Nightclub Popularity gained from Nightclub Management missions. You'll also rake in Nightclub Income at twice the usual rate - just be sure to empty your safe when it reaches capacity.
To celebrate the release of the Deviant, Team Schyster is awarding all players who log in this week with a freeSchyster T-shirt
And for a limited time, successfully delivered Business Battle Crates have a chance of awarding a cool GTA$50,000, along with a hand-picked mix of rare T-Shirts from your favorite vehicle manufacturers and After Hours DJs.
Play GTA Online any weekend this February to earn a GTA$250K reward the following week, up to GTA$1M for the month. So if you played at any point between February 1st and 3rd, be sure to jump in this weekend to claim your first GTA$250K cash drop.
Make the most of this week's Nightclub bonuses with a suite of After Hours discounts to get you up and running: 
  • Nightclubs & Renovations – 30% off
  • Nightclub Garages – 30% off
  • Nightclub Warehouses – 30% off
  • Nightclub DJs – 30% off
  • Maibatsu Mule Custom – 30% off
  • MTL Pounder Custom – 30% off
And save big on a host of bleeding-edge machinery through February 13th - stage your hacking operations from the safety of the Benefactor Terrorbyte or reign supreme in the Arena with the MTL Cerberus:
  • Pegassi Oppressor Mk II – 25% off
  • Benefactor Terrorbyte – 35% off
  • Benefactor Terrorbyte Add-Ons & Renovations – 30% off
  • Annis ZR380 – 25% off
  • MTL Cerberus – 25% off
  • HVY Menacer – 35% off
  • B-11 Strikeforce – 35% off
For more information on all the latest GTA Online bonuses and coming events, head to the Social Club Events page.

Friday, 8 February 2019

The Front Runner: Film Review

The Front Runner: Film Review

Cast: Hugh Jackman, Vera Farmiga, Sara Paxton, JK Simmons
Director: Jason Reitman

It's perhaps pertinent that Reitman's film about Senator Gary Hart (Jackman, dialling down his usual dazzling charisma) deals a lot with the so-called intrusion of the press rather than the actual scandal which subsumed the man.
The Front Runner: Film Review

Jackman is Hart, who after a failed campaign in 1984, comes back to try again. Entering the Democratic Presidential Nomination race as the clear front runner, Hart looks like he could be the change that's needed.

But backstage, in the journalism world, accusations begin to swirl ever more strongly of the possibility he's having an affair - and emboldened by a tip off to a local paper, the desire to hold him to account begins to grow stronger as the debate over to whether to ask him divides newsrooms.

It's an interesting discussion about where scrutiny ends and where intrusion begins, and certainly drawing from the source material that covers such a debate, Reitman's film feels more weighted to ethics than the actual drama of what's transpired.

But in some ways, it's also emboldened by a dawdling journey that takes it away from the norm.

Questions over Hart are never clearly answered, even though they're defined, and Jackman's downplaying of the senator certainly helps to create a murkiness and uncertainty over who's right or what actually happened. Reitman's smart enough to only hint at what transpired - and certainly with Paxton's turn as the mistress thrown to the lions, there's always a feeling that the scales are tipped against Hart. But it doesn't quite lend the film to the concept of must-see drama; more overly long set up piece.

However, Jackman plays it well; snapping with intensity as the degrees of arrogance within unfurl - and thanks to an unfussy direction from Reitman, the film's strength lies in its relationships, not its extra-marital ones.

Ethics certainly provoke interest, and while the film's less dramatic than you'd expect, it's still a slow-burning engager at times. JK Simmons delivers strength in a part that becomes less and less as the film plays out - the weariness of his face tells more than a blustering soliloquy could.

There are moments when characters and events feel side-lined but the aforementioned unfussy approach to the story lend it a thoughtful credence and quality of debate over intrusion that plays on the mind after it's finished.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Win a double pass to see WHAT MEN WANT

Win a double pass to see WHAT MEN WANT

To celebrate the release of WHAT MEN WANT, in cinemas February 14, you can win a double pass.

About What Men Want

Win a double pass to see WHAT MEN WANTAli Davis (Taraji P. Henson) is a successful sports agent who’s constantly boxed out by her male colleagues.

When Ali is passed up for a well-deserved promotion, she questions what else she needs to do to succeed in a man’s world... until she gains the ability to hear men’s thoughts!

With her newfound power, Ali looks to outsmart her colleagues as she races to sign the next basketball superstar, but the lengths she has to go to will put her relationship with her best friends and a potential new love interest (Aldis Hodge) to the test.

WHAT MEN WANT is the latest comedy from director Adam Shankman (HAIRSPRAY) and producers Will Packer and James Lopez (GIRLS TRIP), co-starring Tracy Morgan, Richard Roundtree, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Josh Brener, Tamala Jones, Phoebe Robinson, Max Greenfield, Jason Jones, Brian Bosworth, Chris Witaske and Erykah Badu.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

On The Basis Of Sex: Film Review

On The Basis of Sex: Film Review

Cast: Felicity Jones, Armie Hammer, Cailee Spaeny, Justin Theroux, Kathy Bates
Director: Mimi Leder

Swathed in sincerity so tightly that it almost becomes claustrophobic, Mimi Leder's take on Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a film that wants us to embrace RBG rather than earning the right to do so.

In fact, compared to the recent doco RBG which detailed her life with both chutzpah and joe de vivre, On The Basis of Sex is lacking, even if it does choose to dwell mostly on the case which saw Ginsberg make her name.
On The Basis of Sex: Film Review

Starting back in 1956 with Ginsberg wide-eyed and eager to be entering Harvard, Leder's film wastes no time showing the obstacles that she faces from the get go. Whether it's being a woman in a sea of men as the opening shot details or watching as Ginsberg is asked to justify why she was able to take the place of a man, Leder's film is about stacking the obstacles in Ruth's path - and piling them high.

Equally, the health problems faced by her husband (played with ease by a smooth Hammer) simply serve to show Ginsberg's ferocity in the face of it - and her determination for her family. All of which Jones delivers with relative aplomb, even if the film follows a formulaic and occasionally borderline dull execution of the biopic.

Things are crystallised a little more when the movie comes to the Charles Moritz case for which Ginsberg made her name - and while the spark rises a little more here, as the fire comes out, the film's choice of course lends itself to speechifying rather than natural dialogue.

It's very much a case of the usual underdog tropes, and is perhaps underscored more by what's been learned in the RBG doco and what is currently happening in America, but On The Basis of Sex makes a good strong case for a TV movie, rather than a big screen outing. Sure, there's a solid take behind the camera, but there's scant flourishes which render this exciting or enticing, despite the good work delivered by both Jones and Hammer.

Inside Xbox Episode 1 2019

Inside Xbox Episode 1 2019

Overnight, Microsoft announced the date for the next much anticipated episode of Inside Xbox, which will air 11:00 am NZT, Wednesday 6 February. Inside Xbox returns for the year with an all-new episode featuring exclusive news, content, reveals and interviews.

The episode will feature a guest appearance from Crackdown 3 Creative Director, Joseph Staten, who will share details on the game’s campaign mode. The episode will also reveal info on:
  • Mortal Kombat 11
  • The Division 2
  • Sea of Thieves
  • Astroneer
  • Journey to the Savage Planet
  • Jump Force
  • Metro Exodus
  • Xbox Game Pass
Inside Xbox Episode 1 2019

Today, on our February episode of Inside Xbox, we gave fans a closer look at the highly anticipated Xbox One exclusive Crackdown 3, talked to the creative talent behind Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, revealed new titles coming soon to Xbox Game Pass like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and de blob, unveiled a hot new Xbox One controller, and much more. For a full recap, read on below or watch the replay of Inside Xbox episode above when the VOD is available.
Introducing Xbox Game Studios
Matt Booty shared we are changing the name of our game development organization from Microsoft Studios to Xbox Game Studios. In his words: “At Xbox, we believe when everyone plays, we all win. It’s why we’re passionate about building a portfolio of games for players across console, PC and mobile. As we’ve expanded our focus beyond the console, the Xbox brand has also evolved from its original roots. Today, Xbox is our gaming brand across all devices, no matter how or where you want to play, or who you want to play with.” Check out our full Xbox Game Studios announcement post for more information.
Experience Halo Like Never Before with Halo: Outpost Discovery
The team at 343 Industries is always cooking up something for the Halo community, and today’s episode gave us our first look at a brand-new offering. Halo: Outpost Discovery is a touring fan experience for all ages, that brings the Halo video game universe to life like never before. This five U.S. city event lets you step into Halo’s vast and epic world, with enthralling themed attractions, interactive in-universe encounters, playable games and so much more. Experience details, ticket information and more are available right now at You can learn more in our Halo: Outpost Discovery announcement post right now.
Bringing the Boom in Crackdown 3
Crackdown 3 is nearly upon us, so the team took a couple of in-depth looks at the game with some very special guests. In addition to an interview with Creative Director Joseph Staten, Crackdown 3 star and all-around great guy Terry Crews joined us from LA to chat about his role and how he infused his trademark personality and energy into the game. To top it off, we revealed the official Crackdown 3 launch trailer, giving fans a final taste of the game’s boom-infused playground across both campaign and Wrecking Zone. Crackdown 3 will be available starting February 15 on Xbox Game Pass and for Xbox One and Windows 10 PC, so get ready to cause some mayhem!
Complete Your Crew in Sea of Thieves
Ahoy mateys! Rare’s action-packed pirate game is better than ever thanks to a bunch of updates and one of the strongest communities in game, so now is the perfect time to bring more players aboard. On today’s show, we announced that the Sea of Thieves Friends Play Free program will be starting on February 6. All existing players will be able to log in to the Sea of Thieves website to get three codes that they can share with their friends who don’t already have the game. Those friends will be able to play until February 13, and everyone can enjoy a special, limited-time voyage featuring a high-value reward and unique cosmetics. For complete details, click through to our Sea of Thieves Friends Play Free announcement post. All aboard!
Xbox Game Pass Gets Even Better
The monthly Xbox Game Pass announcement is always one of our biggest news beats, and we’re happy to share that this month’s lineup features some truly excellent games. One of 2018’s best games is hitting the subscription service, as Shadow of the Tomb Raider brings Lara Croft’s action-packed trilogy to a close. She’s joined by Clementine, one of our favorite characters from The Walking Dead – Season One, and everyone’s favorite amorphous lump, de Blob. For complete details, take a look at our Xbox Game Pass February games announcement post.
Experience Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 with Two New Bundles
Today, we announced two new bundles with Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 joining the Xbox One family. Pre-order the 1TB Xbox One S ($299.99) or the 1TB Xbox One X ($499.99) Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 Bundle, and experience the ultimate RPG open-world action shooter set in Washington D.C., where exploration and player progression are essential to survival. Jump in on Xbox One and see how the dynamic environment combines the series’ core authenticity with tactical decisions, trading and more.
Both bundles feature an Xbox One console, 1TB hard drive, an Xbox Wireless Controller, a full-game download of Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 and 1-month trials for Xbox Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold. Additionally, as part of the Xbox One family, you can enjoy features like a built-in 4K UHD Blu-ray player, 4K streaming with High Dynamic Range and Dolby Vision, and premium audio with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X support. Plus, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is specifically enhanced for Xbox One X so you can experience immersive true 4K gaming with 4K Ultra HD with HDR and Dolby Atmos support. Pre-order now; arrives in stores starting March 15, 2019.
A Shiny New Controller Appears
The announcement of new Xbox controllers is always a big deal for our fans and collectors, so they’ll be happy to hear that we revealed a brand-new controller on today’s show. The Xbox Wireless Controller – Sport Red Special Edition is vibrant red and features metallic accents, rubberized diamond grip, and built-in Bluetooth technology for gaming on Windows 10 PCs and tablets. For more information, give our Xbox Wireless Controller – Sport Red Special Edition announcement post a read!
Jumping In With Jump Force
Fighting game fans rejoice! Jump Force, the upcoming battler featuring combatants from the Shonen Jump universe, will be releasing soon, and we were lucky enough to be able to reveal some new characters. Jotaro and DIO from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure will be coming to the game, and we can’t wait to see how Stand users stack up against the competition! The team also shared that they plan to keep the game as fresh as possible in the months following its release, thanks to new costumes and stages that will be given to fans for free.
A New Fighter in Mortal Kombat 11
The latest entry in the world’s most brutal fighting game has been announced, and our team was on the ground at the recent unveil event to take a good look at the carnage. What’s more we are now able to reveal that D’Vorah is returning in Mortal Kombat 11. She is a half-human, half-insect fighter who is aligned with Kotal Kahn, the ruler of Outworld. She was first introduced in Mortal Kombat X, where her swift, vicious moves made a (deep) impression on her enemies.
Inside the Minds Behind Journey to the Savage Planet
One of the biggest announcements at The Game Awards, Journey to the Savage Planet takes players to an alien world on which everything isn’t always as it seems. We went behind the scenes at Typhoon Studios to see first-hand what it takes to leave security behind and set out to build both a studio and a brand-new franchise from the ground up.
We hope you enjoyed the show, and we’ll see you next month!

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Bad Times at the El Royale: DVD Review

Bad Times at the El Royale: DVD Review

Mashing noir, mystery, Hitchcock and horror, meta-horror The Cabin In The Woods director Drew Goddard's Bad Times at The El Royale's mix proves to be an intriguing cocktail that tastes initially sweet, but slightly sours towards the end.
Bad Times at the El Royale: Film Review

Set in 1969 and in a hotel that straddles two state lines (Nevada and Califronia "warmth and sunshine to the west, hope and opportunity to the east"), a series of strangers, each with a secret, check in to the El Royale.

Among their number is Jeff Bridges' priest, Cynthia Ervio's soul singer, Jon Hamm's salesman, and Dakota Johnson's mysterious edgy woman. As the night progresses, the reality of what's going on gradually reveals itself, leading to an unexpected showdown.

It's difficult to write too much about the occasionally slow Bad Times at The El Royale without giving too much away.

The sense of mystery is predicated by a "chapters" feel to proceedings which sets up the goings on, before delivering a punchy ending and leaving you wanting an immediate resolution to each vignette.

And in some ways, that's also part of the problem of Bad Times at The El Royale - a deliberately delayed gratification which gradually dulls the shocks as they come. Certainly the first comes absolutely out of nowhere and is breath-taking; but after that, you start to feel dulled to it and expect that each ending will have them.

Bad Times at the El Royale: Film Review

All roads lead to the arrival of Chris Hemsworth's Charles Manson type character, complete with acolytes in the third act of the film. But unfortunately, Hemsworth doesn't quite pull off the menace required, landing more on slightly campy sinister Jim Morrison than actually full on frightening; certainly, the charisma of the leader isn't quite there, even if you're repeatedly distracted by the shirtless sculpting going on.

That said, there are some moments that Bad Times at The El Royale pulls off with veritable aplomb.

The sense of unfolding mystery and off-kilter edges are nice touches throughout, with unease and a sideswipe at authority of the time propelling what's unfolding; more is implied than explicitly said at times, and it works well - even if at 140 minutes, the film starts to flag under its own weight. It ends in a fiery spectacle, befitting of the Hell implications of the Royale, and also showing how characters have to walk the line between right and wrong.

In love with its own soundtrack (even down to Erivo's continually impressive, but sometimes irritating, Motown singing), Bad Times at The El Royale's queasy mix of time hops, false starts and occasional propensity to shock makes it a carny ride of dramatic proportions, as everyone looks for some kind of redemption.

Bad Times at the El Royale: Film Review

But the MVP of proceedings is easily Lewis Pullman's concierge Miles. Without revealing too much, Pullman imbues Miles with an edgy demeanour of a guy caught in the wrong place at the wrong time - and it's quite unnerving and electrifying.

Not quite the chamber piece you'd be expecting, Bad Times at The El Royale benefits from Goddard's now trademark subversion of the genres involved. It's a notch above pulpy at times, but its ultimate switch at the end isn't quite as strong as the build up would have you hoping for.

It is one hotel to check into though, but you'll be glad it's for one night only. 

Cold Pursuit: Film Review

Cold Pursuit: Film Review

Cast: Liam Neeson, Tom Bateman, Emmy Rossum, Julia Jones, Laura Dern
Director: Hans Petter Moland

Paling in comparison to 2014's black comedic masterpiece In Order Of Disappearance, but still offering enough light to shine on its own, Cold Pursuit marks Liam Neeson's apparent action movie
Cold Pursuit: Film Review

Neeson plays man of the community Nels Coxman. Rewarded for his efforts to keep the snowy regions of the tourist town clear in his plow, Coxman's world is turned upside down when his son turns up dead of an apparent heroin overdose.

And while his wife (Dern, in a handful of scenes and utterly wasted) turns to grief, Nels turns to disbelief and finds his fears confirmed when he's told his son was killed.

Intent on claiming revenge, Coxman ends up on a collision course with Tom Bateman's Viking, the local gangster behind the death.

Cold Pursuit has a muted feel, and if anything, Neeson's restrained gruffness lend it enough gravitas that it needs. But a tendency to overplay the black humour means that what it delivers is more a film that provokes laughter when the original's darker edges shone through.

An over-reliance on title boards delivering funeral notices is supposed to be wry and amusing, but after an initial use, comes across as a crutch rather than a construct.
Bateman veers a little too OTT at times, infusing his Viking with a feeling of the Joker rather than laying on the menace - it's part of Cold Pursuit's MO that overkill is better than restraint (something which the original managed to encapsulate perfectly).

But there are offhand moments that work and add a level of aloofness that sits well with the audience.

However, there are parts of the script that could have been excised or boosted, rather than feeling undernourished.

Chiefly among those is the inclusion of the Native Americans and their resentment of a local ski resort that is on land where their reservations used to be. Granted, it's a common theme rich for the plucking, but it feels included as an afterthought.

And while the police chasing the crimes add some commentary, the darkness isn't dark enough to need the Fargo-esque edges it pursues. Neeson is solid as Coxman, but there's little levels of emotional depth being plumbed in here, and there's a feeling of emotional aloofness.

Overall, Cold Pursuit itself is an intriguing port over of the original, but it does lack some of the sparkle of the first and a grasp of what made it work so well.

Monday, 4 February 2019

Teen Titans Go To The Movies: DVD Review

Teen Titans Go To The Movies: DVD Review

Criminally overlooked on its big screen release thanks to brevity and over-stuffing of the box office, Teen Titans Go To The Movies is actually one of the best animated films of the year.

Bestowed with both meta touches and manic edges, it stars the Teen Titans of the DC Universe, who are spearheaded by Robin.

Angered by the fact all the other superheroes in the world have their own movies, and he does not, despite having a great backstory, Robin decides they need their own film. But a movie director, Jade Wilson, reckons they can't do it without a solid arch-nemesis, and because they're a joke to the rest of the superhero world.
Teen Titans Go To The Movies: DVD Review

Setting out to right both those wrongs, Robin becomes consumed by his misplaced desires....

Teen Titans Go To The Movies is a blast.

Infused with silliness and also some amusing musical numbers, the animation rattles along, mocking superhero tropes and also the movie world. It may occasionally dwell on scatological humour, but its pace and desire to entertain are never lost in the wash.

Making great fist of mocking the superhero world, and the absurdities of the DC Extended Universe, as well as embracing it all at the same time, Teen Titans Go To The Movies is one movie comic book fans shouldn't miss - and those looking for quality family entertainment.

The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Trailer Super Bowl Ad

The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Trailer Super Bowl Ad

A brand new trailer for Season 3 of The Handmaid's Tale has just dropped during the Superbowl.

Watch The Handmaid's Tale Season 3 Trailer Super Bowl Ad below

Marvel Studios' Avengers: Endgame - Big Game TV Spot

Marvel Studios' Avengers: Endgame - Big Game TV Spot

Here's the latest from Avengers: Endgame, which dropped during the Super Bowl.

Win a double pass to see COLD PURSUIT

Win a double pass to see COLD PURSUIT

To celebrate the release of Liam Neeson in COLD PURSUIT, in cinemas Waitangi Day, you can win one of three double passes!

Welcome to Kehoe, it’s -10 degrees and counting at this glitzy ski resort in the Rocky Mountains.

The local police aren’t used to much action until the son of unassuming town snowplough driver, Nels Coxman (Liam Neeson), is murdered at the order of Viking (Tom Bateman), a flamboyant drug lord.

Fueled by rage and armed with heavy machinery, Nels sets out to dismantle the cartel one man at a time, but his understanding of murder comes mainly from what he read in a crime novel.

As the bodies pile up, his actions ignite a turf war between Viking and his long-standing rival White Bull (Tom Jackson), a soulful Native-American mafia boss, that will quickly escalate and turn the small town’s bright white slopes blood-red.

COLD PURSUIT is in cinemas Waitangi Day, February 6.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Discover how 4A Games are taking the Metro series to new horizons with Metro Exodus Uncovered

Discover how 4A Games are taking the Metro series to new horizons with Metro Exodus Uncovered


Five years in the making, welcome to the greatest Metro adventure yet
Moscow - 1st February 2019 - Deep Silver and 4A Games today released Metro Exodus Uncovered – a new gameplay video that welcomes series newcomers into the incredible world of Metro.

Famed for their gripping atmosphere, intense gameplay, powerful story-telling and hauntingly realised game world, Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light have earned their reputations as cult classics. Now, Deep Silver and 4A Games are ready to release the long-anticipated Metro Exodus. Five years in the making, it builds on the series’ strengths while offering players a new sensation of freedom and exploration in the wastelands of post-apocalyptic Russia. For newcomers to the series, this video explores the unique world and deep gameplay features of Metro Exodus.

Metro Exodus releases on 15th February for Xbox One, the all-in-one games and entertainment system from Microsoft, the PlayStation® 4 computer entertainment system, and PC.

Be the first to hear about the latest Metro Exodus news by registering at, following us on Twitter and Instagram @MetroVideoGame or on Facebook at


The year is 2036.
A quarter-century after a nuclear war devastated the earth, a few thousand survivors still cling to existence beneath the ruins of Moscow, in the tunnels of the Metro.

They have struggled against the poisoned elements, fought mutated beasts and paranormal horrors, and suffered the flames of civil war.

But now, as Artyom, you must flee the Metro and lead a band of Spartan Rangers on an incredible, continent-spanning journey across post-apocalyptic Russia in search of a new life in the East.

Metro Exodus is an epic, story-driven first-person shooter from 4A Games that blends deadly combat and stealth with exploration and survival horror in one of the most immersive game worlds ever created.

Explore the Russian wilderness across vast, non-linear levels and follow a thrilling story-line that spans an entire year through spring, summer and autumn to the depths of nuclear winter.

Inspired by the novels of Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro Exodus continues Artyom’s story in the greatest Metro adventure yet.

  • Embark on an incredible journey - board the Aurora, a heavily modified steam locomotive, and join a handful of survivors as they search for a new life in the East
  • Experience Sandbox Survival - a gripping story links together classic Metro gameplay with new huge, non-linear levels
  • A beautiful, hostile world - discover the post-apocalyptic Russian wilderness, brought to life with stunning day/night cycles and dynamic weather
  • Deadly combat and stealth – scavenge and craft in the field to customise your arsenal of hand-made weaponry, and engage human and mutant foes in thrilling tactical combat
  • Your choices determine your comrades’ fate - not all your companions will survive the journey; your decisions have consequence in a gripping storyline that offers massive re-playability
  • The ultimate in atmosphere and immersion - a flickering candle in the darkness, a ragged gasp as your gasmask frosts over, the howl of a mutant on the night wind - Metro will immerse and terrify you like no other game…