Saturday, 13 February 2016

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl: DVD Review

Me and Earl and The Dying Girl: DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by 20th Century Fox Home Ent

The sick lit genre got a boost in the arm with The Fault In Our Stars, a sweet romance that got you in the feels as well as working to the tropes and conventions.

So, it's inevitable that Me And Earl And The Dying Girl with its button-pushing title and poster of three friends will be held up in comparison.

But, that does this quirky Sundance audience award winner a disservice - to a degree.

It's the story of high schooler Greg (Mann), who bounces between the school sets without attaching to any of them. His sole friend is a kid who comes from a different neighbourhood Earl (Cyler), with whom he makes spoof movies a la Be Kind Rewind and who he hangs out with at lunch to avoid the cafeteria dilemma.

Greg's world changes when his mother forces him to spend time with Rachel (Olivia Cooke) who's diagnosed with leukaemia. Initially reticent, Greg finds an escape from his world in Rachel's but gradually begins to realise that he's more invested in Rachel's fight than his own crumbling life.

Me and Earl And The Dying Girl, in parts, feels like a slightly too smug and offbeat take on the genre, destined to be beloved by some and loathed by others.

Based on Jesse Andrews' book, occasionally it feels like it's trying too hard as it negotiates the tropes, mocks them with self-deprecating touches and cocks a snook at where it's come from. It's easy to see why it's been an audience hit at the Sundance festival and in other festivals - though I suspect it's only within certain parts of the audience.

Slathered in amusing movie in-jokes thanks to the affectionate films that Earl and Greg make (Sample title - Senior Citizen Kane), there's certainly just enough here to give it a broader brush to those who may be put off by the awkward moping of others within the genre.
But yet, while it's heart-warming, it's never emotionally devastating and never really developed a personal connection.

Greg is too self-centred, too aloof from all around him to feel too much or to gain an attachment too. Granted, it's possibly the embodiment of being a teenager, but it's a film which doesn't offer him a journey or redemptive arc.

Equally, there's too much of a sidelining of Rachel here - ironically though, in doing so, this helps the film avoid mawkish moments where you'd expect romance to blossom - a touch that the film's so self-aware to mock with Greg intoning that "This would be where we kiss." However, it's a shame as Olivia Cooke brings a stellar performance to the screen as the girl going through the various stages of the illness, without one moment feeling false at all.

If anything, Me and Earl And The Dying Girl is more about friendship and sadly, in its final stretches, falls headlong into some of the cliches it's been trying hard to avoid throughout. It's not without its charms, but I have to admit, the majority of them were lost on me.

There's no denying Me and Earl And The Dying Girl's freshness and potential appeal to its demo as it negotiates what it means to be a teenager, but there's equally no denying the occasional quirkiness becomes overbearing (such as its stop-motion animations that appear from time to time), tearing it away from its more genuine moments and depriving it of the wider status it deserves early on.


Friday, 12 February 2016

Batkid Begins: DVD Review

Batkid Begins: DVD Review

Rating: G
Released by Roadshow Home Ent

You'd have to have a hard heart to not let it melt a little with Batkid Begins.

A doco based on the story of a 5 year old boy who had fought leukaemia and wanted to be Batman was always likely to be a bit of a tearjerker, but what makes Batkid Begins rise from its mawkish intentions is essentially a triumph of human behaviour.

Detailing when San Fran became Gotham City to make Miles Scott's dream a reality, Batkid Begins is the kind of film that does nothing more than put a smile on your face - sure, it's not the flashiest of docos, but its triumph is a celebration of the human spirit.

And sometimes, that's just enough to get by, Batman.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Zoolander 2: Film Review

Zoolander 2: Film Review

Cast: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Penelope Cruz, Will Ferrell, Cyrus Arnold
Director: Ben Stiller

You're either in or out when it comes to fashion.

And unfortunately, in this sequel to the 2001 Zoolander, Ben Stiller's Derek Zoolander is woefully and painfully out.

Forced into reclusive ways ("I've become a hermit crab" Zoolander says) after a centre he built collapsed killing his wife, injuring his mate Hansel and ultimately leading to his son being taken by child services, the intellectually challenged Derek Zoolander is coaxed back out of retirement when offered a runway job.

However, at the same time, pop stars around the world are being assassinated and all die pouting one last look that appears to be connected to Zoolander's repertoire.

Contacted by Interpol (led with chutzpah by Penelope Cruz's Valentina), Zoolander's reunited with Owen Wilson's Phantom of the Opera-esque Hansel as a conspiracy unfurls and the pair are thrust into proceedings.

There are no two ways about this sequel.

To quote Zoolander himself, it's La-me.

It's an endless attempt at a joke without a punchline and a repetition of gags from the first film as well as an attempt to try and capture something that worked the first time around.

Even with four writers on board, this is nothing more than a flimsy excuse to gather a whole heap of celebrities for cameos and mixing a spy-esque caper (The Man From D.U.M.B.C.L.E anyone?) into a final product that is as lacklustre from the beginning as it is from the end. Scenes appear to have little coherence, little fluidity and little reason to exist. An ongoing gag about how the duo who were so hot in 2001 and are now so out of the loop with fashion and technology is handled with as much aplomb as a rock being tossed into an ocean.

Stiller just embarrasses himself in front of the camera as much as he does behind it with very little hitting the mark. It's almost as if the cameos are wheeled out to distract from the fact the jokes don't land and to surprise you with who they've managed to cajole into appearing (though to be fair, one of the highlights is Kiefer Sutherland's perfectly-timed comedic appearance as one of Hansel's lovers from his orgy - a sort of scowling sad Jack Bauer).

The problem with Zoolander 2 is just that it's not remotely funny enough.

Whereas the original passed into cult infamy with its skewering of modelling and conventions as well as blessing the vernacular with the "Blue Steel" look was down to the fact that it was actually funny. Zoolander No 2 is nothing in comparison to that - while Penelope Cruz seems to have a ball of a time as the Interpol agent and injects proceedings with some life, the rest of the film is as indulgent as it is try-hard. It seems in part content to try and coast on the nostalgia you'll feel for the leads - and it's not enough.

Zoolander 2 is as vacuous and as dumb as its male model leads; but whereas the first gave you leeway to laugh along and enjoy the journey, this cinematic catwalk, so devoid of atmosphere and humour, is easily one of the worst inflicted upon audiences this year.

The Walking Dead: Michonne - A Telltale Miniseries Premiere Date Announced, All-New Screens Extended Preview Event This Sunday

The Walking Dead: Michonne - A Telltale Miniseries  Premiere Date Announced, All-New Screens Extended Preview Event This Sunday

Three-Episode Miniseries Event Featuring Iconic Comic Book Character Set to Premiere on February 23rd with Extended Preview on February 14th
Fellow Survivors,

Today we can share release dates and all-new screens for the first of three episodes in The Walking Dead: Michonne - A Telltale Miniseries.

The Walking Dead: Michonne - A Telltale Miniseries will premiere its first of three episodes, 'In Too Deep,' this February 23rd on PC/Mac from the Telltale Online Store, Steam, and other digital distribution services, the PlayStation®Network for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3, the Xbox Games Store for Xbox One® and Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, followed by a release on compatible iOS devices via the App Store, and Android-based devices via Google Play and the Amazon App Store starting February 25th. The second episode in the miniseries, 'Give No Shelter,' will follow in the month of March, and conclude with the third episode, 'What We Deserve,' in April. All three episodes in the miniseries will be available for purchase at the cost of $14.99 USD or equivalent when the first episode debuts, including access to the second and third episodes as they become available.

In this premiere episode, 'In Too Deep,' Michonne joins Pete and his crew on the sailing ship The Companion as they cruise the coast for survivors and supplies. When a desperate signal for help draws them to a scene of horrific massacre, Michonne and the crew are lead further to the floating survivors' colony of Monroe, which may just be harboring the person responsible for the carnage. 

The Walking Dead: Michonne - A Telltale Miniseries stars the iconic, blade-wielding character from Robert Kirkman's best-selling comic books, portrayed in-game by award-winning actress Samira Wiley (Orange is the New Black). Haunted by her past, and coping with unimaginable loss and regret, the story explores Michonne's absence between issues #126 and #139 of the comic book. Over the three episodes of the miniseries, players will discover what took Michonne away from Rick, Ezekiel, and the rest of her trusted group... and what brought her back. 

Ahead of its release, fans are invited to get an exclusive extended preview of the first episode of the series on this Sunday February 14th at 8:30pm EST / 5:30pm PST. The development team will introduce the series allowing fans to experience the first five minutes of the premiere episode, exploring Michonne's struggle to remain among the living while being haunted by her past.

To date, The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series has sold more than 50 million episodes worldwide, earning more than 100 Game of the Year awards from outlets including Metacritic, USA Today, Wired, Spike TV VGAs, Yahoo!, The Telegraph, Mashable, Polygon, Destructoid andGamesRadar, and was also the recipient of two BAFTA Video Games Awards for Best Story and Best Mobile Game.
The Walking Dead is set in the world of Robert Kirkman's award-winning comic book series and offers an emotionally-charged, tailored game experience where a player's actions and choices affect how their story plays out across the entire series.
The Walking Dead: Michonne - A Telltale Miniseries Episode 1 - 'In Too Deep'is rated 'M' (Mature) for Intense Violence, Blood & Gore, Sexual Themes, and Strong Language by the ESRB.  

For more information on the game, visit the official websiteFacebook, and follow Telltale Games on Twitter

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Amy Schumer: Live At The Apollo DVD Review

Amy Schumer: Live At The Apollo DVD Review

Rating: R16
Released by Roadshow Home Ent

Amy Schumer Live At the Apollo is a tv special writ large which sees the comedy heroine take to the stage.

Directed by Chris Rock, it's clear Schumer is preaching to a home crowd that is already on side.

Covering topics such as her own Trainwreck experiences including the weight loss hypocrisy and women's underwear, the comedienne isn't exactly mining new ground.

To be fair, it is stand up rather than the polished sketches of her TV show. Self-deprecation with a dash of tart, the delivery is nothing more than affable and for the most part, it all works.

There is a degree of edge but most of the material has been covered in interviews and press tours: but there's no denying Schumer is an icon to many  and her desire to shake the prejudices in the industry is commendable.

Occasionally, you wish for a bit more of an edge, but capping off a great year for Amy Schumer, there's no denying the star power and talent here.

Arslan: The Warriors of Legend launches

Arslan: The Warriors of Legend launches

Final playable characters and launch trailer released!

Sydney, Australia - February 10, 2016 - Koei Tecmo Europe is pleased to announce the release of anime-based tactical action title Arslan: the Warriors of Legend on Friday 12th February 2016 for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, and Xbox One, the all-in–one games and entertainment system from Microsoft via retailers across Australia and New Zealand; the game is also available digitally for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system. A PC version is out now via Steam® today, the 10th February
Arslan: the Warriors of Legend tells the story of the young crown prince of Pars, Arslan, as he is forced out of his kingdom when his father, the king, is betrayed and defeated and his domain conquered. The player takes on the role of Arslan and his few companions as they strive to re-assemble an army and fight against overwhelming odds to liberate the kingdom.
Aside from the playable characters already revealed, Koei Tecmo announced today an additional two characters, this time from Arslan’s enemy camp!
The first is Hilmes; the mysterious man behind the Silver Mask and Arslan’s arch-rival, has temporarily aligned himself with Luisitania, though his end-game appears to go deeper than simply leading the attacking forces to victory. By his side stands Zandeh, his highly skilled sword protector. Both characters will be playable in the free mode of the game, in the original extra scenarios available.
Additionally, three more stages have been revealed, a small Village, the imposing Zabul Fortress, and the vast Keep of St. Emmanuel, whose labyrinthine streets stage the last act of Arslan’s exciting adventure.

Watch the launch trailer:

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is coming


NIS America is extremely excited to announce that Odin Sphere Leifthrasir will be joining its European RPG lineup in June 2016! Odin Sphere Leifthrasir will be coming to PlayStation®4, PlayStation®3, and PlayStation®Vita as both a physical and digital release. 
NIS America will also release the special Odin Sphere Leifthrasir “Storybook Edition,” which will be available exclusively for the PlayStation 4 and includes a hardcover art book, an art print of game characters, a collectible metal slipcase, and more. 
NIS America will also provide localization support for Odin Sphere Leifthrasir, with game text in English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish.

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir is a 2D sidescrolling action RPG, steeped in Norse mythology or a Wagnerian opera. The new game is a complete HD remake of the original PS2 classic Odin Sphere from Vanillaware, the team behind the hit side-scrolling action game Dragon’s Crown and Muramasa: The Demon Blade. Atlus U.S.A. will be publishing this game in North America.

About the story:
The kingdom of Valentine was the most powerful country on the continent of Erion. Its people thrived using the magical power of the Crystallization Cauldron, but it was destroyed in one fateful night. And so, a war over the now master-less Cauldron has begun, involving all the nations of the land and growing more intense by the day. Is the End near, as the Prophecy states?

Odin Sphere Leifthrasir “Storybook Edition”
The Odin Sphere Leifthrasir “Storybook Edition” will be available for a premium price at select online retailers in Europe and will include the following items:
- PS4 version of the game.
- A 64-page hardcover art book, with full color renditions of the glorious Vanillaware art.
- A Potion Recipe t-shirt to remind you of the most basic alchemical recipes.
- A collector’s metal slipcase to house the game.
- Alice and Socrates art print.
- And a premium outer box adorned with the game’s fantastical artwork!