Monday, 31 May 2021

SEGA reveals Sonic Colours: Ultimate

SEGA reveals Sonic Colours: Ultimate

Sonic Colours returns this spring delivering a vibrant new high-speed gaming experience for Sonic fans of all generations

SEGA reveals Sonic Colours: Ultimate


Sonic fans, get ready to Colour the Universe! As part of Sonic Central, SEGA® unveiled Sonic Colours: Ultimate™, an adrenaline-pumping upgrade on the iconic 2010 platformer, Sonic Colours. Developed by the award-winning studio, Blind Squirrel Entertainment, Sonic Colours: Ultimate brings a fresh hue to the celebrated game with stunning visuals, additional features, a new mode, and improved gameplay enhancements, providing players the ultimate Sonic experience. Sonic Colours: Ultimate is set to release on 7th September 2021 on PlayStation®4, Xbox consoles and Nintendo Switch™. For a limited time, Sonic fans can pre-order the Sonic Colours: Ultimate physical edition and get an exclusive baby Sonic keychain.

Join Sonic in the high-speed adventure of a lifetime! The evil Dr. Eggman has built a gigantic interstellar amusement park bursting with incredible rides and colourful attractions – but he is powering it with a captured alien race called “Wisps.” Use Sonic’s lightning speed to free the Wisps and learn the secrets of their amazing powers as you explore six unique colourful worlds, each filled with dangerous enemies and hurdles to overcome. Sonic will be tested on this exciting journey to free the Wisps, whose mystical powers can be harnessed to grant special abilities - and with their help, and yours, it is a test he'll pass with flying Colours! Now with stunning upscaled visuals, additional features, a new game mode, and enhanced gameplay - it is the Ultimate Sonic Colours experience.



Sonic Speed and Non-Stop Action -

·        Accelerate to adrenaline-pumping super speed, zoom across challenging worlds, and manoeuvre through hazardous obstacles. Time your attacks perfectly to charge your boost and reach Super Sonic speeds. 

Interstellar Amusement Park –

·        Explore and adventure through immersive environments, like a Sweet Mountain filled with delightful sweets or an Aquarium Park filled with sea life and countless pools - all cantered around a mysterious astro-amusement park.

Wisp Power-ups –

·        Transform Sonic by harnessing the magnificent alien power of Wisps to defeat enemies and discover the secrets of the interstellar amusement park. Pass through solid objects and discover alternate paths using the new Jade Ghost Wisp.

Better Than Ever – 

·        Available on PlayStation 4, Xbox consoles and Switch and now more colourful than ever with enhanced visuals and graphics, refined controls, and many more gameplay upgrades. The game is also playable on PlayStation®5 via backwards compatibility and Xbox Series X|S.

‘Rival Rush’ Mode –

·        Put your skills to the test and go head-to-head with Metal Sonic. Outrun Metal Sonic to unlock rewards!


Sonic Colours: Ultimate is available to pre-order


Sunday, 30 May 2021

Ammonite: DVD Review

Ammonite: DVD Review

God's Own Country director Francis Lee turns his precision lens to the story of fossil hunter Mary Anning in this tale of frustrated ambition and love.
Ammonite: Film Review

Winslet is Anning, who spends the days on the beaches of Dorset scouring for fossils in among the inclement weather and muddy cliff faces while facing the reality of barely making ends meet in her tourist seaside shop.

With days of discovering major fossils behind her, and with poverty continuing to knock at the door, Anning is faced with no choice but to look after the convalescing Charlotte Murchison (Ronan) after her wealthy husband insists and offers to pay. But, despite the initial distance between the pair, and the clear class divides, a relationship, forbidden by society, develops.

Handsomely shot, and at times, run at a glacial pace, Ammonite lacks the intensity of the kind of relationship explored in Lee's stunning debut, God's Own Country.

Winslet's steely determination throughout renders Anning an almost impenetrable character, whose motivations are hard to fathom. Lee wisely uses other interactions with Anning to flesh out her story, and when Anning finally lets some of her guard down, Winslet subtly integrates nuance into her delivery and lightens her tone, brightening the screen and breathing life into an almost fossilised character.

Equally, Ronan helps push through some of the coldness of the movie, with glances and moments helmed by Lee helping fuel more of a character. From looking longingly at a room full of people to disappointed looks to her husband (McArdle in a brief but memorable turn), Lee's camera captures more insights into the pair than the script allows.
Ammonite: Film Review

In fact, it's Lee's capturing of the intricacies and minor details (a horse's strap, a camera hanging on eight ceramic ornaments that have more significance later on) that provide a more handsome and rich tone that Ammonite could have done more with. His eye for seeming visual insignificances of the world around his characters does much to fill the obvious narrative gaps that will leave some feeling cold and isolated.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

The King of Staten Island: Neon NZ Film Review

The King of Staten Island: Neon NZ Film Review

With charm and charisma, an authentic turn from comedian Pete Davidson anchors The King of Staten Island.

It's only fair that he does, given the movie is actually semi-autobiographical and is co-written by Davidson himself.

The King of Staten Island: Film Review

Set in the New York borough of Staten Island, Davidson is 24 year old highschool dropout Scott, who's never really got over the death of his firefighter father.

ADD and with a desire to become a tattoo artist, despite his "inconsistent tattoos", Scott's life goes into a tailspin when his sister goes to college - and it's further exacerbated by his mum (Tomei) dating another man.

The King of Staten Island is in many ways a typical Apatow dramedy.

It follows the path of other films he's done like This Is 40 and Funny People in that it ploughs a comedic furrow before halfway through taking a turn into dramatic overtones.

And yet, despite very familiar edges, The King of Staten Island works because of the authenticity of the script, the relatability of the protagonist  and the genuinely funny edges of the story.

Central to all of this is Davidson, who gifts the dramedy with the breeze it needs when it's necessary. But while that helps proceedings, the film never really delves deeply into the problematic psychology of Scott preferring to allow the proceedings to paint the picture and provide the insights. Apatow's film is more interested in hanging out with the bros and capturing the elements of Brooklyn life to a tee.

The King of Staten Island: Film Review

That's no bad thing given Apatow's eye for the shaggy stories; this one is no exception with a mammoth 140 minute run time. It may be a coming of age story, and a familiar tale of a manchild lost in life, but Davidson's veracity gifts the film the emotional heft and relatability that it scores so highly on.

Sure, there's a degree of sentimentality creeping in as the film enters its final furlong, but you'll forgive The King of Staten Island a degree of indulgence.

For in it, and obviously on show, is a story of humanity and of worth, anchored by two great performances from Davidson and Tomei.

The King of Staten Island is a winning film that unexpectedly creeps up on you in ways you'd never guess but are delighted it does.

Friday, 28 May 2021

What to watch on Netflix, Disney +, Amazon Prime, DocPlay and Neon in June 2021

What to watch on Netflix, Disney +,  Amazon Prime, DocPlay and Neon in June 2021

That's it, 2021 is already halfway done.

And with the cinemas opening back up and movies being released again around the world, you'd think the streaming services are holding off releasing content.

But no, that's not the case, and June is bumper-packed with things to view. So without any further ado, here's what to watch on Netflix, Disney +,  Amazon Prime, DocPlay and Neon in June 2021.

Duncanville (June 1, Neon)
Duncanville (June 1, Neon)

Amy Poehler's animated comedy Duncanville is centred around the life of Duncan, a spectacularly average 15-year old boy, and the people in his world. His mother, Annie, lives in perpetual fear that her teenage son is one bad decision from ruining his life and will do anything to stop him from doing so. His father, Jack, is determined to be a better dad than his father.

Starring: Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation), and Ty Burrell (Modern Family)

Sweet Tooth (June 4, Netflix)
Sweet Tooth (June 4, Netflix)

On a perilous adventure across a post-apocalyptic world, a lovable boy who's half-human and half-deer searches for a new beginning with a gruff protector.

Shot in New Zealand during the Covid-19 pandemic, this American fantasy drama streaming television series is based on the comic book of the same name by Jeff Lemire and exec-produced by, among others, Robert Downey Jr.

Kitty Love: An Homage to cats (June 5, Netflix)
Kitty Love: An Homage to cats (June 5, Netflix)

If you thought doco Kedi was cute about the Turkish cats, wait till you fall for this batch of felines.

Documentary filmmakers capture the daily lives, routines and adventures of a group of Dutch cats - from the cute, to the curious.

Loki (June 9, Disney +)
Loki (June 9, Disney +)

The Marvel juggernaut shows no sign of stopping on the small screen as the third new series in as many months from Marvel Studios arrives.

Marvel Studios’ “Loki” features the God of Mischief as he steps out of his brother’s shadow in a new series that takes place after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” Tom Hiddleston returns as the title character, joined by n all-star cast including the likes of Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Sophia Di Martino, Wunmi Mosaku and Richard E. Grant. 

Clarkson's Farm (June 9, Amazon Prime Video)
Clarkson's Farm (June 9, Amazon Prime Video)

Jeremy Clarkson is a journalist, a broadcaster, and a man who travels the world to slide sideways in supercars while shouting. 

He is not a farmer, which is unfortunate because he’s bought a 1,000-acre farm in the English countryside and decided to run it himself, despite knowing nothing whatsoever about farming. 

The series follows an intense, backbreaking and frequently hilarious year in the life of Britain’s most unlikely farmer and his team, as they contend with the worst farming weather in decades, disobedient animals, unresponsive crops, and an unexpected pandemic.

Down to Earth with Zac Efron: Season 1 (June 11, Netflix)
Down to Earth with Zac Efron: Season 1 (June 11, Netflix)

Actor Zac Efron journeys around the world with wellness expert Darin Olien in a travel show that explores healthy, sustainable ways to live.

Normal People (June 15, Amazon Prime Video)
Normal People (June 15, Amazon Prime Video)

At school, Connell (Paul Mescal) and Marianne (Daisy Edgar-Jones) pretend not to know each other. But when Connell collects his mother from her job at Marianne’s house, a strange, indelible connection grows, one they’re determined to conceal. 

Later, they’re both studying at Trinity College, where Marianne is popular and Connell shyer, more uncertain. During their time, they circle one another, straying toward other people but always magnetically drawn back together. 

The intimate yet sweeping story of two Irish teens, embarking on an on-again/off-again romance spanning several years that changes as they explore different versions of themselves.

Limetown (Neon, June 16)
Limetown (Neon, June 16)

Fifteen years ago, 326 men, women, and children vanished from Limetown - a research facility in the heart of rural Tennessee. There were no witnesses, no clues, no survivors. 

For most of her adult life, investigative journalist Lia Haddock has relentlessly asked a question that no one seemed to be able to answer: What happened to the people of Limetown? 

This ten-part series begins when Lia makes her first big breakthrough.  Starring Jessica Biel and Stanley Tucci, it'll be interesting to see how this shakes off any comparisons to the much-loved The Leftovers.

Luca (June 18, Disney +)
Luca (June 18, Disney +)

The latest film to skip a traditional release and go straight to streaming is Disney's Luca.

Set in a beautiful seaside town on the Italian Riviera, Disney and Pixar’s original feature film “Luca” is a coming-of-age story about one young boy experiencing an unforgettable summer filled with gelato, pasta and endless scooter rides. 

Luca (voice of Jacob Tremblay) shares these adventures with his newfound best friend, Alberto (voice of Jack Dylan Grazer), but all the fun is threatened by a deeply-held secret: they are sea monsters from another world just below the water’s surface.

The Most Dangerous Animal of All (Disney Star, June 18)
The Most Dangerous Animal of All (Disney Star, June 18)

The Most Dangerous Animal of All” is a four-part documentary series that explores one man's search for the father who abandoned him, only to uncover the worst: he believes his father is the Zodiac killer. 

Will no doubt appeal to lovers of true crime and horrific discoveries.

Horizon Forbidden West State of Play PlayStation gameplay reveal

Horizon Forbidden West State of Play PlayStation gameplay reveal

It's time for Aloy's next big adventure - the Forbidden West.

During this State of Play, we will debut the Horizon Forbidden West gameplay reveal! In this 20-minute exclusive segment, you’ll be seeing about 14 minutes of brand new in-game action featuring our heroic protagonist Aloy, all captured directly on PlayStation 5. 
Horizon Forbidden West State of Play PlayStation gameplay reveal

This reveal has been a true team effort and we’re very excited to show you what we have in store. 

Whether you’ve been with us and Aloy since Horizon Zero Dawn or are only just getting to know this incredible world, we want to share this huge milestone with you and cannot wait to see your favorite moments and reactions.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Cruella: Film Review

Cruella: Film Review

Cast: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry, Paul Michael Hauser, Mark Strong

Director: Craig Gillespie

There's a vampish, punk-filled energy to fuel much of the first hour of Cruella, a film that, at times, feels far from the Disney fold as it could.

A powerhouse performance from Emma Stone as Estella / Cruella elevates the film, set in 1970s London where an orphaned Estella falls in with a couple of street grifters  Jasper and Horace (Fry, excellent throughout, but overshadowed by a more showy performance from Richard Jewell's Hauser).

Cruella: Film Review

A frustrated wannabe fashionista, Estella is given a chance to be part of the Baroness fashion world, overseen by Emma Thompson's queen bitch. (Yes, there are elements of The De-Vil Wears Prada and the student usurps the master here). But when Estella falls foul of the Baroness' selfishness, her "bit of an extreme side" comes out...

Sure, there is a little of the "Maleficent-is-just-misunderstood" ethos that became prevalent with Disney making background stories for their villains, and it's a shame that those in charge never fully commit to the idea of Cruella being bad and embrace it in their revenge story.

But with a film that's so gorgeously stylish, so sumptuously costumed, draped in a thrilling aesthetic and so well cast in its leads, it almost doesn't matter. 

From a sublime 70s soundtrack to some truly wondrous costuming, Cruella is brash, ballsy and a little bit brilliant in its first hour when it really matters. More a celebration of  Brit punk fashion and London vibes than a deep look at Cruella's malignant creation, Cruella has a barnstorming first hour that makes you remember why cinema is so blow-the-doors-down brilliant. 

Packed with gusto, energy and just a vibrant joie de vivre, it's all centred by Stone's turn. Channeling the kind of star power and screen presence she easily held in Easy A, this is head and shoulders one of her best performances, usurping Emma Thompson's more villainous Baroness with ease. Her Cruella is a little more nuance, even if early on, it's played a little more like a fight between dominant personalities struggling within her psyche.(Yes, there are Joker parallels a-plenty).

Cruella suffers from being overly long, with the punkish energy and montages of Cruella stealing the limelight proving to be the glue between some of the more rote edges of the wannabe darker-edged script, but there's honestly a lot to love about this style-over-substance outing from Disney.

Around the halfway mark, the film begins to lose some of its lust for life, and the script struggles to really justify the full-blown transformation that occurs and the tonal whiplash becomes a little jarring. (Equally, Mark Strong is viciously sidelined in a film that would have benefited from more of his mellifluous tones and screen presence).

Ultimately, Cruella may be a film of two halves, but it's saved by the sheer energy of its opening acts. Packed with bluster and bravado, it makes the film a must-see on the big screen for its first 60 minutes alone - and thankfully, Stone and Thompson give their leading ladies the edge and the sass to make this an at times, Dev-il-ish treat.

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Marvel Studios debuts the trailer for Chloe Zhao's Eternals

Marvel Studios debuts the trailer for Chloe Zhao's Eternals

Marvel Studios debuts the trailer for Chloe Zhao's Eternals



Opens in New Zealand cinemas November 4, 2021


Marvel Studios debuted the exciting teaser trailer for Eternals,” the third film in the MCUs Phase Four, opening in Australian cinemas November 4, and directed by Academy Award®winner ChloĆ© Zhao.


Marvel Studios’ “Eternals welcomes an exciting new team of Super Heroes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

The epic story, spanning thousands of years, features a group of immortal heroes forced out of the shadows to reunite against mankinds oldest enemy, The Deviants. 

The outstanding ensemble cast includes Richard Madden as the all-powerful Ikaris, Gemma Chan as humankind-loving Sersi, Kumail Nanjiani as cosmic-powered Kingo, Lauren Ridloff as the super-fast Makkari, Brian Tyree Henry as the intelligent inventor Phastos, Salma Hayek as the wise and spiritual leader Ajak, Lia McHugh as the eternally young, old-soul Sprite, Don Lee as the powerful Gilgamesh, Barry Keoghan as aloof loner Druig, and Angelina Jolie as the fierce warrior Thena. Kit Harington plays Dane Whitman.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles: DVD Review

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles: DVD Review

Revered Israeli-born chef, restaurateur, and food writer Yotam Ottolenghi stars in this genial yet unchallenging documentary from the City of Gold director Laura Gabbert.

When Ottolenghi is challenged to cater for the 2018 New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art summer gala, he decides to assemble a crack squad of caterers and mavericks to help - in a sort of The A Team spinoff but for pastry chefs.

Matching his theory that every decent recipe has a story with it with the idea of the opulence of Versailles, it seems like a natural fit for Ottolenghi - and by extension for Gabbert who made such wonderful fist of her Jonathan Gold food critic film.

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles: Film Review

She has an eye for the food porn, and scatters shots of tasty delights among the proceedings, as well as using the sumptuous artistry of the Met itself and Versailles to complement the whole affair.

But, even with all that, there's about as much to Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles as a choux pastry - it looks mouthwatering from the outside, but probe the inside and you soon discover there's a hollowness to what's within.

A lack of conflict, and a lack of any kind of danger hovers over proceedings - there's no last minute failure to rise disaster, no tumbling of pastry on the floor and no Great British Bake Off style of competition to be beholden here. It's a fairly simple, fairly unchallenging film where Ottolenghi proves to be both curator of the event, and tour guide into the history of the Versailles era and some of the crack squad he assembles.

It's not that Gabbard doesn't pull it all together in a truly pleasant way, merely that this is a sugar rush which wears off fairly quickly and leaves the viewer feeling a bit deflated.

There is no real sense of build up to the actual event, just a workmanlike behind the scenes approach to capturing what goes on for the event, and allowing the chefs airtime to espouse their various views.

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles: Film Review

Perhaps that;s some of the problem - there are too many things to cover, and bizarrely too little time with one person to fully indulge; Gabbard's scope is a little too wide to retain a focus.

At the end of the day, Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles will satiate high end art lovers, and culture seekers but may leave the casual viewer deeply unsatisfied.

Monday, 24 May 2021

Summerland: DVD Review

Summerland: DVD Review

Cast: Gemma Arterton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Courtenay, Lucas Bond
Director: Jessica Swale

You've seen a film like Summerland many, many times before.

The redemptive tale of a recluse brought out of their shell by an unexpected pairing or meeting, a bond forming, and a heartwarming glow dished up on screen.

But yet, Jessica Swale's Summerland may still surprise you with its afterglow, despite any long-buried cynicism you may have, and any reaction to a second-half twist that's incredulous and entirely overly coincidental.
Summerland: Film Review

A subtle and nuanced Arterton is Alice, the "beast on the beach" as Tom Courtenay's school teacher dubs her; dubbed by the locals as a Nazi spy, Alice spends her time writing and generally being short and snippy with the locals in her seafront village home of Kent.

When she's forced to take in evacuee Frank (Bond, in an engaging and heartfelt turn) during World War II, she initially refuses, haughtily believing there has been a mistake, and making Frank less than welcome.

But when she decides it's only for a short time, the relationship begins to thaw and Alice finds herself thrust into the past and the memory of a forbidden relationship.

Summerland is bright enough, with plenty of heart and beautifully shot vistas to propel it along in its first two thirds.

Arterton's brusque and at times, wickedly tart, Alice makes a delightfully negative character to hang about with, even if the predictabilities of what the plot contrives can be signalled way off. Managing regret, aching and also loneliness, this tale of feminism and of witch-hunting in small communities is eminently watchable thanks to a subtle Arterton throughout.

Mbatha-Raw brings her usual brightness to her role as Vera, and Bond delivers a delightfully down-to-earth performance as Frank, the kid just trying to find a new home.

While the third act contrivance is a bit too much of a twist initially, the film's inevitable turn into sentiment is relatively nicely handled by Swale both behind the camera and on the writing page. It helps that Arterton sells it, even if some onscreen histrionics don't quite manage to.

Ultimately, Summerland is an intelligent period piece brought vividly to life by its two central characters.  There's a substance lurking below that's easy to break through - as long as you can stomach the contrivances and push on through, like the tried and tested English Blitz spirit.

Sunday, 23 May 2021

The Marksman: Blu Ray Review

The Marksman: Blu Ray Review

In truth, The Marksman isn't a sloppy film.

It's just that it's largely unremarkable, another entrant into Liam Neeson's desire to make action films before he claims to retire one more time.

The Marksman: Film Review

In this latest though, there are signs that even Neeson's wearying in some of the action sequences as old age catches up to him.

Neeson plays Jim, a recently widowed Marine Force vet, who's behind on ranch payments and facing foreclosure. Every day is spent patrolling a nearby Arizona border fence with Mexico, and every day Jim's heartless enough to call in those trying to make their way across the border, but decent enough to give them water to stave off death.

When Miguel (Perez, largely unchallenged and unchallenging throughout) and his mother flee from the Mexican cartel, disaster strikes. Orphaned Miguel's dying mother makes  Jim promise he'll look after the boy - along with a sack full of cash.

With the Mexican cartel chasing after Miguel and desperate for revenge against Jim, the pair must hightail it from Arizona to Miguel's US-based family before it's too late...

Solid, but unspectacular, The Marksman offers formulaic rote thrills for the genre.

The Marksman: Film Review

As previously mentioned, Neeson looks wearied and almost exhausted at points of this film, and the growling gruff dialogue afforded him does little to elevate the film beyond its trappings.

Director Lorenz puts together a fairly cohesive film that's relly lacking in the script department as the duo hotfoots it away from by-the-numbers-Mexican villains.

It's depressing in parts to feel like Neeson is simply phoning in the latter parts of his career with an unending stream of variations on his Taken character, but the Marksman does little to alleviate such feelings, and sacrifices character for caricature instead.

Full marks go to the English mechanic whom Neeson's character crosses later on, and whose willingness to simply dismiss Jim's desire for an urgent repair to a shot up vehicle solicited mirth where there shouldn't have been.

Worthy only for an interesting argument over gun ownerships and laws, The Marksman's failings fall squarely on the script's shoulders. It misses the mark way too often and while it's packaged together in a reasonable manner, this made for late night TV movie is a relatively soulless and unemotive slog that really deserves little place in Neeson's catalogue of diminishing returns.

Saturday, 22 May 2021

A Quiet Place: Part II: Movie Review

A Quiet Place: Part II: Movie Review

Cast: John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cillian Murphy
Director: John Krasinski

If A Quiet Place thrived on its intimacy, the sequel takes the world so richly - yet so sparsely - created by John Krasinski and expands it, without ever losing the reasons the first film worked. (Though there are arguably a few too many repeated beats from the first film scattered throughout).
A Quiet Place: Part II: Movie Review

Opening with an utterly barnstorming, thrill-a-moment edge-of-your-seat sequence that shows what happened on Day 1 of the alien invasion in a small American town, A Quiet Place Part II sets its stall out early on, as it continues the story of the Abbotts and their push for post-apocalypse survival.

Jumping 473 days later, the film plunges you back into the immediate aftermath of the Abbotts' fatal encounter at the farm and their sudden need for survival. Forced to go beyond their boundaries, new mother Evelyn (Blunt, terrific in the first, but sadly sidelined in a lot of the movie), son Marcus (Jupe) and daughter Regan (Simmonds, terrific throughout) must deal with their grief and also the new threats of a changed world around them - as well as the alien marauders.

But their first discovery is Emmett (Murphy, damaged, bearded and prickly), a man who's lost his family and all touches with the humanity within...
A Quiet Place: Part II: Movie Review

Where A Quiet Place Part II is effective is in providing a burst of edge-of-the-seat tension among a series of well-orchestrated set pieces which bristle with unease and dread. The opening bravura sequence, with its elements of Bird Box level horror and mania, turns from glee to dread in a moment, and sets the tone of what lies ahead.

In truth, much of A Quiet Place Part II feels like portions of retreads of the first, with the creatures formerly confined to the shadows now continually out in the open. With their Venom-esque rows of teeth and shattering screams, the visual effects are thrust into the spotlight, and thankfully don't disappoint with ILM really upping the game amid the soundscape of clicking and stalking. 

Behind the camera, Krasinski opts for a slow and steady hand, possibly knowing that most of what transpires is a retread of the first, albeit in different locations, but wisely understanding what made them work so well. From a train car to a marina, via a seemingly deserted and cavernous steel mill, the dread is dialled up in a series of claustrophobic in-your-face encounters that exist solely to jangle the nerves and force viewers to the edges of their seat.

And it's solidly and expertly done with Krasinski showing his skill for the required elements - and in one sequence, setting out four encounters of varying levels of tension without once ever losing anything from the ongoing cross-cutting. It helps most of the conflict comes from being invested still in the characters, despite a Covid-19 induced hiatus, and from nods to the first film's terror swerves. (Those steps and that nail figure briefly again).
A Quiet Place: Part II: Movie Review

Outside of the perfectly paced sequences, the film falls slightly flat as it brings to the fore the usual survivalist tropes and post-apocalyptic factions. Anyone with a hint of knowledge of shows like The Walking Dead and practically any other world-destroyed genre will find nothing but familiarity here, and a crushing sense of shallow characterisation outside of the core group and its new interloper.

Equally, the film's conclusion feels abrupt and formulaic, giving A Quiet Place Part II more a lingering feeling of a companion piece that's been expanded out by box-office necessity rather than initial narrative desire. It shows with leaps of logic and odd character choices that stand out in moments that don't quite stick the landing.

But as an in-cinema piece of spectacle, A Quiet Place Part II is a terrifically taut piece of knuckle-whitening entertainment. It uses its silence as its weapon, once again wielding terror in a slow-wielding calm of execution that delivers on the promised tension and sickening horror of a family menaced by threats from all angles.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Nomadland: Blu Ray Review

Nomadland: Blu Ray Review

There's an authenticity to Chloe Zhao's Nomadland, an adaptation of the book by Jessica Bruder, that makes this tale of a nomad hard to shake.
Nomadland: Film Review

McDormand plays Fern, a disenfranchised widower who moves from region to region in a van after the mining village she was part of in Nevada is essentially shut down and removed from the US map. Stripped of the place she used to call her home, Fern travels around in a beaten up old van that she's made up to be her safety zone.

Bruder's 2017 tome looked at transient older people in mid-west America, and Zhao's film easily taps into that. It helps that McDormand feels so natural in the role (possibly due to the months she spent living in a van prior in the name of research) and that all the extras who appear in the film's cast are nomads themselves.

Zhao's at pains to point out that Fern has chosen the lifestyle ("I'm not homeless, just house-less - it's not the same thing," she intones at one point) that has to a degree been thrust upon her. But Zhao's lens and cinematographer Joshua James Richards paints an all-too different picture with large swathes of the countryside shot in wide angles to emphasise the scope of the landscape, and internal shots taken in close up to emphasise Fern's comfort.

Equally, the Amazon warehouse where Fern resides as a seasonal worker is shot with vast amount of spaces around her, as if to push the point that Fern doesn't fully belong within the world she's forced to be part of.
Nomadland: Film Review

McDormand lives and breathes the role, and never once feels like she's acting - it's all done on Fern's own terms, and it shows on screen. But there's an organic dignity running through this film that's hard to shake, and deeply compelling to watch.

At its heart, Nomadland is haunting, elegaic, and guaranteed to shake up your world view as a capsule of life in the 21st century, and the harsh economic realities faced by older Americans, it's disturbing. But bizarrely, it's beautifully hopeful, speaking to communities and connections of souls as Fern travels weaving in and out of people's lives as the days and roads lumber on.

Nomadland is the road trip 2021 deserves - a shake up reminder that our pasts and presents can collide in ways that are both freeing and frightening; it's a road movie of humans' innate desire for connection, but also strangely, of alienation.

Nomadland is simply unmissable; a film of layers and impressions rather than a normal narrative, it will stay with you long after its perfect final shot has faded from the screen.

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Raya and the Last Dragon: Blu Ray Review

Raya and the Last Dragon: Blu Ray Review

Meshing a quest with the traditional mismatched buddy road comedy, Raya And The Last Dragon sees Disney try to create a new world to be mined - and a new mythology to be explored.
Raya and the Last Dragon: Film Review

And it's largely successful, even if the messaging within the film is a little too overt and obvious, lacking the subtlety of what Disney films have managed before.

In this latest, Star Wars' Kelly Marie Tran is Raya, a would-be warrior in the kingdom of Kumandra, a world where dragons and humans once lived together. But when a mystical force called the Druun invaded, all the dragons were turned to stone as they sacrificed themselves for humanity.

500 years later, and the Druun have mysteriously returned, and the kingdom is under threat again - not just from the Druun but also from the differing factions of Tail, Talon, Fang, Spine and Heart which make up the splinter groups of the world. And when Raya is betrayed, the future of everyone's world is less than obvious...can Raya learn to trust again and save Kumandra?

From its Tomb Raider-style and Raiders of the Lost Ark opening to its How To Train Your Dragon's Toothless inspired water dragon, via way of Elsa from Frozen and XBox game Recore ethic, Raya and the Last Dragon juggles many influences on its earnest sleeve.

But with its aforementioned lack of subtle messaging (the heart can't function without the tail, or the other parts) and the overt pushing of idealistic learning to trust, there is a feeling that Raya and the Last Dragon doesn't quite hit the highs of previous Disney films and their desire to educate.

Plus, the Druun, swirling purple and black blobs as they are, feel underdeveloped as mystical bad guys - and equally, the human baddies in the film never fully feel rotten to the core, more misguided in their actions, and decent at heart.

Yet, there is much to love in Raya and the Last Dragon.

Despite the arguments over the casting, the film's luscious and verdant vistas and wonderful use of colours looks stunning. The hues pop from the screen and the film's proud to wear its Eastern influence like a badge of honour. 

There's a potential spinoff character in the making in a baby and his accomplices from one land that would be more than tolerable - and could be the new Scrat, now the Ice Age animation studio has folded.

Raya and the Last Dragon: Film Review

And at its heart, is Tran, a centred and soulful performer who delivers a subtlety to Raya that's admirable, and restrained. Awkwafina easily steals the show with the best lines and an out there goofball energy, but it's Tran that grounds her Raya in ways that are understated.

Her journey with the brash and boisterously positive and self-deprecating Awkwafina is beautifully and empoweringly put together, giving Raya and the Last Dragon the poignancy it needs as the quest portion of the film gets underway.

From its swordplay to its flying dragons, the film's Eastern influences shine through, and are brilliantly transposed to the screen with ease.

There's no denying that this is a film of unity, and in times when we are more divided than ever, its timeliness is the one thing that clearly stands out. 

But what also stands out from Raya and the Last Dragon is that Disney is still intent on making old school family films that hit many of the same levels as some of its other successes.

And even if its occasional heavy-handedness stops it from reaching spiritual highs, it's still a journey worth signing up for - and being empowered by.

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

Pink: All I Know So Far: Film Review

Pink: All I Know So Far: Film Review

Director: Michael Gracey

There are moments in Pink: All I Know So Far where the film soars.

It's in a moment where a candid Pink reacts to the story of a suicidal fan on the eve of a concert, and the earnestness as her voice cracks as she tells a familiar tale to many of how music saved one person's life. It's in a moment where a camera follows her around the skies of an empty Wembley stadium on the eve of her biggest concert, and she truly feels free as she twirls around in the rehearsal finally getting the time alone she clearly needs - but where she worries that one day her children will see through the Pink act and see a terrified Alecia just trying to do it all.

But there are too few of these moments in Michael Gracey's vaguely hagiographic and workmanlike behind the scenes look at Pink's Beautiful Trauma tour as it played Europe during 2018 and 2019.

Mixing live concert footage with rehearsals and scenes of moving from one country to the next, an ever whirling blur of trying to snatch moments, Gracey's camera captures the intensity of the touring artist and the dilemma of Pink the mother.

Pink: All I Know So Far: Film Review
It's here that the doco excels - it becomes a rallying cry for a working mother, struggling with guilt of what she believes she's inflicting on her children and the daily necessity of being one of the world's leading pop artists. But using a mantra of making family memories together, Gracey captures Pink's desire to have her cake and eat it with such generosity of camera intrusion and spirit, that it does begin to feel like a snapshot of the modern day family struggle.

Interestingly though, Gracey never once stops to interrogate his subject, and there are plenty of times when there is a feeling that this is largely directed by Pink herself - but thankfully she proves to be someone you want to spend time with in whatever shape or form.

Pink: All I Know So Far ends in exuberant form, a joyous uplifting crowd-pleasing performance of So What hitting all the right notes, and reminding viewers of the touring experience that Covid-19 has robbed us all of - but also sadly reminding us of how occasionally insubstantial and surface level the doco has been at times throughout.

There are no deep revelations in Pink: All I Know So Far, nor perhaps should there be. 

In many ways, it feels like a pictorial diary of an artist and their musings - not once does it dive deeper, or aim to expose Pink's evident neuroses, and nor perhaps was it ever intending to do. As a celebration of motherhood and of dedication, it's a superlative and empowering piece - and perhaps that's what it best should be remembered for.

Amazon Studios will release P!NK: ALL I KNOW SO FAR globally on Prime Video May 21st, 2021

Tuesday, 18 May 2021

Wild Mountain Thyme: Blu Ray Review

Wild Mountain Thyme: Blu Ray Review

Starting like an advert for the Irish Tourism Board with its tracking shots through rolling fields and along coastlines of the Emerald Isle, John Patrick Shanley's Wild Mountain Thyme feels like a film out of time.
Wild Mountain Thyme: Film Review

It's a feeling further compounded by Christopher Walken's unmistakable New York twang given an Irish lilt as the voiceover to the film begins. There's a whimsy prevalent throughout, and while there is plenty of charm on show, the slight story is just enough to contain you for the 90 minutes run time - even if the deedle-dee-dee cliches are enough to set your teeth on end.

Anthony (Dornan, serious faced and furrowed brow) lives on the farm owned by his father (Walken) and next door to Emily Blunt's Rosemary, who's hopelessly in love with him - and has been for years. 
They are star crossed lovers of the most shallowly written kind.

But Anthony is oblivious to this - and yet matters come to a head when his father decides to sell the farm onto his American son (Hamm, in an entirely serious role) because he believes it's best for the future.

To say that not much happens in Wild Mountain Thyme is a major understatement.
Wild Mountain Thyme: Film Review

While the film looks pleasant, and the actors are perfectly fine (aside from some crimes committed against accents and some truly unfathomable conflagrations of circumstance), there's a genuinely off-kilter mood that pervades much of the proceedings, as if the whole village has been coated in a kind of localised mania that only residents can be affected by.

It means that there are odd lines and declarations uttered by characters throughout, which make the film feel like it's either not taking itself seriously or has gone a little crazy on the narrative front. 

Either way, once you surrender to Shanley's adaptation of his own play, the rhythms make Wild Mountain Thyme an almost OTT surreal experience that's not been seen in cinemas for a while. And that's before the final revelation as to why Anthony has shied away from Rosemary's desperate desire for affection.

Whether that's a good thing or bad thing is entirely up to you.

All in all, Wild Mountain Thyme plays to some Irish stereotypes, but this romcom's surprising rhythms and solid execution make it a film whose lunacy is almost forgiveable - but sadly, it's also one whose accent crimes and narrative logic will live on in infamy.

Monday, 17 May 2021

Win Raya and the Last Dragon on Blu Ray

Win Raya and the Last Dragon on Blu Ray

To celebrate the release of Raya and the Last Dragon on Blu Ray and DVD, thanks to Disney, you can win a copy!

About Raya and the Last Dragon
Win Raya and the Last Dragon on Blu Ray

Raya And The Last Dragon

Long ago, in the fantasy world of Kumandra, humans and dragons lived together in harmony. However, when sinister monsters known as the Druun threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, those same monsters have returned and it's up to a lone warrior to track down the last dragon and stop the Druun for good.

All you have to do is email your details and the word RAYA!

Email now to 

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Resident Evil: Village: PS5 Review

Resident Evil: Village: PS5 Review

Released by Capcom
Platform: PS5

If you strip away the internet fervour that devoured Lady Dimitriscu, and the Resident Evil edges, Resident Evil: Village offers the same kind of vicarious horror thrills that you'd come to expect from genre.

Resident Evil: Village: PS5 Review

Picking up after the end of Biohazard, the game that seized on VR and the first person horror experience with verve and tenacity, Village plops you back in the fray.

You're back as Ethan Winters, fresh from surviving the Baker house of horrors, and now living with your wife and baby daughter somewhere in Europe. However, within moments of an idyllic scene playing out, your wife is seemingly slaughtered in a spray of bullets and your child is abducted. To make matters worse, you're kidnapped by Chris Redfield, who apparently helped save you at the end of the last game - and then things take a further turn, when after a crash, you stumble into a village that's deserted and full of potential supernatural threats.

Resident Evil: Village: PS5 Review

With more of a balance on scares as well as action, Resident Evil: Village is a solidly packed tautly woven horror outing that entertains as much as it enthralls.

On PS5, it's largely helped by the fact the game looks stunning.

Every decaying area of the Village and the surrounds looks pristine, adding to a sense of both the European and the Gothic. Creatures, demons and whatever's hunting you are delivered in a polished fashion, their fangs glistening as they're bared, ready to bite.

The game delivers smoothly too, with not one moment struggling to load or play, thanks to the power of the PS5. (Which is as expected.)

But it's this next-gen sheen that really does make Resident Evil Village the experience it is - much like Until Dawn's Rush of Blood VR Efforts, the game knows that providing a strong mix of survival skills with jump-out-of-your-seat moments is what the RE fans - and even non-fans want.

Resident Evil: Village: PS5 Review

It does however lead to a feeling of a carnival funhouse at times, and is more invested in jump scares and chases than a serious horror would, but Village never claims to be massively deep in its plot and its machinations.

While combat is chunky, defence is relatively pointless as even blocking will still see you attacked. Crafting is easily done, but as ever resources in Village are scarce, so the pain of collection has to be measured against the levels of potential success.

At the end of the day, Resident Evil: Village more than delivers on its eerie promise to fans and non-fans alike. Sure, there's a bit of chopping and changing between action, horror and puzzle solving, but when you're caught up in the middle of it all, this is one Village you'll have trouble leaving.

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