Saturday, 31 March 2012

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One - Blu Ray Review

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part One - Blu Ray Review

Rating: M
Released by Sony Home Ent

So it's finally here.
The final film of the Twilight Saga franchise - well, the first part of it anyway - heads onto Kiwi small screens amid mass expectation from the fans, and to be frank, a little indifference from anyone who's not a Twihard.

This time around after years of anticipation, it's all about the wedding of human Bella (Stewart) and sparkly vamp boy Edward Cullen (RPatz). Well, that and the monstrous after effects...

Despite protestations from occasionally shirtless wolf shapeshifting boy and former partial love, Jacob (sulky Lautner), Bella marries Edward and the pair head away for Rio de Janeiro to celebrate their honeymoon and consummate their long drawn out courtship.

But when Bella becomes pregnant, the ramifications for the fractured relationships between wolves and vamps bubble up to the surface again and with the uncertainty of what the unborn child will do to an already strained truce between the two races, these two have more than post wedding blues to deal with.

It's really quite difficult to review this latest installment of the Twilight Saga as a critic because quite frankly, like the final Harry Potter film earlier this year, it's simply reviewer proof and will do the box office business whatever the naysayers say.

Over nearly two hours, to be honest, very little actually happens; there's a wedding and a lot of skulking/ brooding and worrying/foreshadowing about the future, complete with scenes on their honeymoon which are lashed with copious emo style music and with swirling camera motions and long draping shots of the duo.

The dialogue is once again, as you've come to expect in the Twi-saga wooden, stilted and sounds terrible when voiced. Comments like "I won't kill you; that's too easy - you deserve to live with this" and "You only killed monsters - you saved more lives than you took" simply come across as laughable and do nothing to give any real depth to the film itself. Along with the moment when the baby's name is revealed as Renesmee, to hear characters spouting "It's beautiful, it's unique" and trying their best to be earnest is just laughable.

But I'm guessing any Twihard fan will consider these moments romantic and dramatic; and will swoon over Edward telling his new wife "Last night was the best night of my existence", because you're meant to remember what it's like to be romantic and in love. Granted, Kristen Stewart gives a good performance as her awkward doubts and fears over devoting her life to one man for eternity give way to the horrors of the unborn child destroying her from within. And the effects which accompany her descent into ill health are well presented and shocking. As for Taylor Lautner's sulking Jacob and RPatz's brooding Edward, they're both not offering anything at all and are quite stilted in places. The wedding scene at the start is actually well done and beautiful but a swirling soundtrack and Condon's propensity to lash every scene with music makes you feel a little like you're being beaten into submission.

While the scenes of fighting vamps and wolves were quite strong and well done in previous films, this time around, they're gloomy and hard to watch as they all take place in the dark. Plus one scene where a pack of wolves carry out a mental confrontation which is pivotal to Jacob is quite frankly likely to give you the giggles. Equally the love scene which is supposed to be intense and violent as is befitting their nature is now just a series of moments, soft focus cutaways and primarily the punchline to a joke.

I think where some of this film's failing comes from is its accessibility (or lack thereof).
Whereas the final Harry Potter film was entirely watchable if you'd not seen what had gone already, Breaking Dawn - Part One feels in places, quite impenetrable. The whole thing is clearly aimed at those who've been with the franchise all the way; and those who don't know their vamps from their wolves, their Cullens from their Quileute may feel a little lost.

Ultimately, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part One is going to be loved by the fans of the franchise for what it actually delivers; this is, after all, what they've been waiting for as it all finally ends. They'll love what transpires on the screens from their heroes and heroine as they're invested in it; and it's likely the end of the first part will have them frothing in a frenzy about what the second half will bring next year. Anyone else who watches this film may feel that this series has been going on for too long, is running a little short on creative ideas and that it's time it was staked and turned to dust.

Extras: 6 part doco on the making of; audio commentary with director Bill Condon, Music videos

Rating:

Battle Royale - DVD Review

Battle Royale - DVD Review

Rating: R18
Released by Madman Home Entertainment

Before the Hunger Games was the more critically acclaimed Battle Royale - both its film version and a novel from Japan.

Now it's been released in a director's cut and it's definitely worth your time.
The film tells the story of Shuya Nanahara, a high-school student struggling with the death of his father who is forced by the government to compete in a deadly game, where the students must kill each other in order to win. And it's that simple - though it's quite violent in places but thoroughly trail blazing in so many ways.

The film aroused international controversy and was either banned or excluded from distribution in many countries but was a massive hit in Japan and rightly so.

It's an uneasy mix of violence, great direction and story telling as well as some great central performances and heart in mouth horror moments.  There's little extra in it despite being the director's cut but the extras are sumptuously excessive with trailers, making of, docos, TV spots - just a great collection and how a re-release should really be done.

Rating:

The Trip - TV Series - DVD Review

The Trip - TV Series - DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by Madman Home Entertainment

It's the turn of the release of the six part series The Trip to get its time to shine.

Having been edited down and released as a cinematic version, it's been bathed in accolades - as well as fan love.

This two handed comedy road trip piece stars the denizens of UK comedy Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan as accentuated versions of themselves.

Coogan enlists Brydon to come along and be his partner while he reviews some of the UK's finest restuarants in the North of the country. But with Coogan's fragile ego and his desperate attempt to claw into the major leagues of Hollywood,he soon finds that Brydon's incessant (and spot on impressions) bring out his insecurities and self loathing,causing him to clash at his long term friend.
Brilliantly funny, this actually benefits from being given the TV treatment - extra sequences show the chefs prepping the food and getting it all together, thus adding extra pauses to the awkwardness between the two friends.

A superb release, this series is one of the best to come from the UK - and is worth every minute of its bittersweet time.

Extras: Deleted scenes, discussions, preparing the food

Rating:

The Future : DVD Review

The Future : DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by Madman Home Entertainment

A cinema piece in the loosest sense of the word, The Future is more of a performance piece in parts translated to the big screen.

From director Miranda July (who also stars), it's the tale of Sophie and Jason who live in a small Los Angeles apartment. They're your stereotypical youth - they hate their jobs,swear they'll never become what they hate - and are about to adopt a sick cat called Paw Paw.

But the realisation that Paw Paw is coming to live with them, sends them into spasms of panic and their lives take directions they'd never intended.

The Future is ever so slightly artsy and as a result, may not appeal to everyone. There's certainly the feel of a performance arts piece within (certainly during one section involving July and a sleeping bag) but there's a definite hipster feel to this which will appeal to a certain sector. The whole thing kind of left me ambivalent though to be honest.

Extras: Making of, deleted scene, commentary with July and trailer

Rating:

Friday, 30 March 2012

New Superman - Man of Steel logo unleashed

We've just seen the first treatment for the brand new Superman Man Of Steel logo - and we wanted to share it with you.

The film's from Zack Snyder and stars Henry Cavill.

Superman - Man Of Steel hits NZ cinemas on June 13th 2013!


New Battleship clip unveiled

Battleship is drawing closer.

Not only do we have the excitement of being able to see it before the American audience (bragging rights ensured), we've also got a new clip for you from the Peter Berg directed film which hits April 12th.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Anchorman sequel announced

It's the news we've all been waiting for.

Anchorman 2 is on the way...

An announcement has just been made on the Conan O'Brien show in the States and the sequel we fans have been clamouring for is coming...

Check out the clip from Conan here.

And get ready for the return of Ron Burgundy..

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Wrath of the Titans - Movie Review

Wrath of the Titans - Movie Review

Cast: Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Rosamund Pike, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy
Director: Jonathan Liebesman

The sequel to the Clash of the Titans has a lot to live upto after being widely derided upon release two years ago.

While it wasn't a bad story and bringing to life of the old Greek myths, it really was lambasted for its poor use of 3D.

This time around though, The Titans are hoping for a new lease of life.

Set a decade after he defeated the Kraken, Sam Worthington's Perseus, the demigod son of Zeus (Neeson) is trying to live a quieter life than the action man of yore.

With a 10 year old son in tow, he's lying low.
But above him, all hell is breaking loose among the gods as they begin to lose control of the imprisoned Titans and former enemy Kronos - and Zeus, the father of the gods, starts to lose his grip on what's around him. Plus throw in betrayal into the mix and an old enemy and it's all on.

Worse still, Kronos' strength grows stronger as Zeus' remaining godly powers are siphoned, and hell is unleashed on earth.

Enlisting the help of the warrior Queen Andromeda (Pike), Poseidon's demigod son, Argenor and fallen god Hephaestus, Perseus bravely embarks on a treacherous quest into the underworld to rescue Zeus and save mankind...

So, the big question is if this sequel is better than the first one a couple of years back?

Well, the answer is sort of.

You're not really in any danger of having your cerebral cortex being troubled by any major plot or character development - but then this really was never that kind of film. Any subtleties of Greek mythology have been jettisoned too in favour of actions and fiery explosions.

It's more about spectacle - which I have to say this delivers a lot more than first time round thanks to some truly apocalyptic CGI.

Acting wise, Worthington holds his chops and gives Perseus a gruff exterior; making him more of a fighter doused with love for his son; Fiennes and Neeson have a little gravitas as the warring Hades and Zeus; Toby Kebbel brings a bit of self awareness and levity as Poseidon's son Argenor, and Pike brings a bit of class to a slightly bland Queen Andromeda. Bill Nighy deserves some praise as a nutty and insane Hephaestus who talks in a broad Yorkshire accent - his is also the only nod back to the previous generations of the film thanks to an iconic Titans artefact.

But the film, at its heart is simply a sequence of action sequences; a brash and noisy blockbuster that cares not for its characters merely services them with moments to hack and slash their way through their next challenge.

It's a shame as there are glimpses and snippets of a story lurking under the lavish FX work. It's a generational tale of brother vs brother conflict and of mortals who've lost faith in their gods; it throws in Cyclops, Pegasus, a Minotaur and Tartarus - so there's clearly an acknowledgement of the source material. Plus a final showdown between Perseus and the big bad Kronos (which resembles the Beast from playstation game Infamous 2) has some pretty good moments. That and moments within the Underworld as it shifts around Perseus work so well in 3D and Imax - and give this a clear heads up on the original.

But somewhere along the way, the care and attention has gone more on the digital side rather than equal effort put into the story.

Which is fine - if you want fantasy action and an FX-fest then you're in luck.

Anyone else may feel the luck of the gods has finally run out in this visually stunning and epic film, which is lacking in depth but is perfect popcorn entertainment.

Rating:





New Dictator trailer unveiled

Brand new trailer for Sacha Barn Cohen's The Dictator has just dropped.

It looks like there's a full story as well - and sees a lot of Borat style fish out of water.

Still, it's got a few giggles out of me while watching...


Mirror Mirror - Movie Review

Mirror Mirror - Movie Review

Cast: Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, Nathan Lane, Mare Winningham, Sean Bean

Director: Tarsem Singh

So, another take on the Snow White story arrives in the cinema - and this one ahead of a certain Twihard's performance in a similar role.

But this one is very clearly aimed at the family PG market.

Lily Collins stars as Snow White and Julia Roberts the Queen who steals the heart of the King (Sean Bean) in a world far, far away. When the King disappears, the Queen keeps Snow White locked up in the castle and away from the rest of the kingdom, which she taxes at an exorbitant level to play for lavish parties and life in general.

However, when the Queen is told she's near bankruptcy, she looks for ways to marry out of the predicament - and one of those, Prince Alcott (Hammer), literally ends up on her doorstep.

But at a chance meeting, Alcott falls hard for Snow White and becomes besotted with her. The Queen, though is having none of that - and decrees Snow White's death....

Cast out into the forest, Snow White meets the seven dwarves and sets about reclaiming her birthright.

Mirror Mirror is as completely different a take on the Snow White story as you'll ever see.

It's from Tarsem Singh who brings such incredible visuals to the big screen in all his films but has yet to match the dazzling visuals with an equally dazzling story. Sure, it's a take on the original fairy tale - but it veers more off in a completely different direction than you may expect.

Julia Roberts plays the Evil Queen more as a sarcastic witch with a bitchy outlook than an out and out "boo hiss" villain - and it's a touch which director Singh uses to give it a slight point of difference but it's also what unfortunately confuses the feel of the film. It does, however, give rise to some funny moments and oddball comments which make the whole flick seem like a bit more of a slightly off kilter pantomime than anything else. That said, they are amusing.

If you're looking for the classic elements of the Snow White story, they're all there - the seven dwarves are given different names but are essentially the same characters - but not just in the way you may expect. Mind you, the dwarves are given somewhat of a makeover with accordion style expanding legs as they maraud around the woods - it's a sort of Cirque du Soleil crossed with little people - but again, it's visually inventive.

Arnie Hammer is more comic relief and slightly cheesy than dashing prince (even though he does spend an inordinate amount of time with his top off - which is remarked on by the Queen as she 'struggles to concentrate' with his shirtless ways) and Lily Collins, while initially a little wet and weak as Snow White, gives rise to a lot of misty focused moments and winsome gazes rather than single minded heroine. It's very family orientated viewing though thanks to their performances - plus throw in Julia Roberts and Nathan Lane and you've got a great ensemble.

Tarsem Singh is such a wonderfully inventive director who leaves his visual mark on anything he touches - but he's yet to match a truly unique eye for colour and imagery with a story.

That's the thing with Mirror, Mirror - this family film deserves to be lauded for its stunning costuming and unbelievably dazzling visuals (it even ends with a Bollywood style dance song during the credits and opens with a stunning shadow puppet animation) but in terms of the story, thanks to an odd mismatch of styles and narrative ideas, it's a little bit of a mixed and flat experience.

Rating:




The Lorax: Movie Review

The Lorax: Movie Review

Voice cast: Zac Efron, Ed Helms, Danny deVito, Taylor Swift, Betty White, Rob Riggle
Director: Chris Renauld, Kyle Balda

From the team who brought us Despicable Me comes this latest computer animated outing The Lorax.

Zac Efron is 12 year old Ted, who lives in the world of Thneedville, a walled city where all the trees are dead and their world is covered in plastic inflatable trees as well as other artificial bits and bobs.

Smitten with Taylor Swift's Audrey, Ted is determined to win her over and make her the girl of his dreams - his way of doing this? Getting a tree for her.

So, when his Grammy tells him that a mysterious being known as the Once-ler who lives outside the walled city has the key to the trees, Ted sets off to break out of Thneedville and discover what exactly happened.

But Ted's quest isn't going unmonitored - for hot on his heels and watching his every move, is greedy corporate baddie Mr O'Hare who owns a bottled oxygen company and who fears that if Ted gets his way, his empire will come crashing down.

However, when Ted finds the Once-ler, he discovers the guilty secret that he holds and how his quest to make a Thneed from the trees left them with a wasteland - despite the intervention of the spirit of the forests, the moustachioed Lorax (Danny De Vito).

Can Ted make a difference to what's gone on?

I'm not familiar with Dr Seuss' source material for this one; I understand it's based on Seuss' worries over economic progress at the expense of the environment -and I have to say this latest computer animation reeks of indoctrination from beginning to end.

The songs which permeate the brightly orange coloured film are clearly cleverly written to support the whole "Let's save the environment" stance of the piece. And it gets a little tiresome quite quickly. There's something insidious about the lyrics which get stuck in your head - the final song, a gospel style ode to the trees, is called "Let It grow" and for days, it's been lodged inside my brain like a seed growing away.

There's nothing wrong with that stance and fair play to the creators for so heavily pushing it but I just feel like the message was sledge hammered home over any level of subtlety.

Which is a real shame - because the animation, complete with its requisite looniness which you'd come to expect from the creators of Despicable Me, suits the piece perfectly. There's little of Seuss' rhyming within the film itself though and while the younger end of the audience won't care or notice, maybe fans will feel a little cheated. The film skews toward a younger demographic and while that's not a bad thing given the orange brightness of the whole piece (even the Lorax looks like an over spray-tanned Mark Sainsbury from Close Up), there's a small part of the film where the energy levels take a hit and it sags a little.

In terms of the talent, Zac Efron is ok as Ted and Taylor Swift is fairly innocuous - the star of the piece is Betty White who shows even in animated form, she can steal the scene. Ed Helms also makes a good go of his mournful post tree destructive Once-ler giving manic energy to the character before corporate greed overtakes him. Even De Vito is relied on to be more of a sad faced kind of Lorax, spirit of the forest.

Overall, The Lorax isn't bad - it's just that without the much needed easing off of the "Save the Trees, Save the Planet" message, the whole thing's a little heavy handed and leaves a sour taste in the mouth rather than the bouncy joy a Dr Seuss book should be.

Rating:


Attack The Block - Movie Review

Attack The Block - Movie Review

Cast: Jodie Whittaker John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, Nick Frost

Director: Joe Cornish

From one half of a very successful UK comedy pop culture duo comes this film about an alien invasion on a South London council estate.

On Bonfire Night, nurse Sam (Whittaker) is walking home when she's approached by a group of lads, lead by ringleader Moses (John Boyega). Needless to say the group doesn't want to escort the nurse home but set about mugging her.

However, their attack is interrupted by something falling from the sky - together the gang set on a creature which appears to have been what fell from the sky and kill it, before taking it to local drug dealer Ron (Nick Frost).

But when more objects start falling from the sky, the gang arm themselves and set about defending their territory, the Block (a council house) from the invaders...

Attack The Block is a slice of welcome cultural sci-fi - the writers spent a year studying the language of the youthes of the area and it's reflected in every last spoken detail on screen, taking in street vernacular and interplay between kids these days. It takes a little bit of time to get used to - but soon, it starts to become a catchy lingo and you may even find yourself dropping in the odd word from time to time.

For a relatively low budget UK film, Attack The Block is a certainly assured piece of film-making. Cornish has the perfect eye for details and shots as well as throwing in some good action sequences as well.

The aliens themselves are kind of novel too - furry like gorillas but with huge glow in the dark teeth (which fade out like batteries dying after the creatures are killed) they're feral, brutal things which are unlikely any other aliens ever committed to screen.

Cornish has also made some difficult decisions about the cast - there'll be some who feel torn about supporting a gang of muggers who're forced to try and save the day; almost as if the ASBO youth deserve sympathy for their plight and it's society which made them what they are. Cornish though doesn't pursue too much social commentary even though it's inherently there in the story, choosing to focus instead on the lingo and some comedy moments, such as a pair of 9 year olds following the group around trying to emulate them. He chooses to show the root causes of life on a council block rather than preach about it.  The relatively unknown cast do a great job of bringing them to life and the whole thing feels fresh and different.

There's something novel about Attack The Block - and something which will give it a life beyond the big screen - it's destined for cult status, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't check it out. In the words of the gang themselves - "Believe, bruv, believe."

Rating:


The Women on the 6th Floor - Movie Review

The Women on the 6th Floor - Movie Review

Cast: Fabrice Luchini, Sandrine Kilberlain, Natalia Verbeke, Lola Duenas and Carmen Maura
Director: Phillippe Le Guay

It's off to 1960s Paris we go in this Upstairs, Downstairs social drama about the owner of a house and his relationship with the maids he employs.

A starched Fabrice Luchini is stockbroker Jean-Louis Joubert who lives with his socialite wife amid the perks of wealth. One such perk is the owning of maids; but when the head of the household quits, Joubert ends up hiring Maria (Natalia Verbeke), a Spanish maid new in town, who soon makes his mark in the household.

But not for the wrong reasons - her bright breezy attitude opens up Joubert's eyes to the injustice and suffering of the Spanish help as this cross cultural dramedy unfolds.

The Women on the 6th Floor is a gentle Gallic charmer of a film - it runs foul of a few cliches here and there as it negotiates the day to day life and politics of a stiffly starched yet compassionate relationship and tensions between the French and the Spanish as the Civil war continues.

Luchini and Verbeke make a pleasant couple - with her youthfullness and joie de vivre bringing out the compassion over time of his repressed socialite. Occasionally, their relationship feels a little forced and lacks perhaps some of the sizzle that you'd expect of the story.

All in all, The Women on the 6th Floor is a light, breezy Gallic treat of a film to wile away a Sunday afternoon.

Rating:

Total Recall teaser trailer unveiled

Methinks someone's taken a leaf out of the Prometheus marketing.

A 30 second trailer's been released for the 2012 remake of Total Recall, starring Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale.




Total Recall 2012 is a remake of the 1990 movie of the same name that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The official synopsis goes -
For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell), even though he's got a beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life - real memories of life as a super-spy might be just what he needs. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. Finding himself on the run from the police - controlled by Chancellor Cohaagen (Bryan Cranston), the leader of the free world - Quaid teams up with a rebel fighter (Jessica Biel) to find the head of the underground resistance (Bill Nighy) and stop Cohaagen. The line between fantasy and reality gets blurred and the fate of his world hangs in the balance as Quaid discovers his true identity, his true love, and his true fate...

The full Total Recall trailer is out on Monday in NZ and we'll bring it to you then.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Street Fighter X Tekken PS3 Review

Street Fighter X Tekken PS3 Review

Released by THQ and Capcom
Platform: PS3

So, yet another fighter game hits the small screen - in the wake of a lot of similar releases from Capcom over the past few months, you may be wondering if this one is worth your time.

And to a degree, I tend to agree with you - it seems as if there's a glut of these fighter games, crying for your cash and time in an increasingly busy market place.

Yet, Street Fighter X Tekken is still a lot of fun.

It's no real digression from the genre or from what's expected - you take on the guises of various fighters from Street Fighter, double up and combat your opponents in a computer generated fist fury breakdown. It's mainly from an array of Street Fighter characters that you get to choose a fighter - but all have their different strengths and skills, as well as weaknesses.

You can choose how long the fights go for; how many rounds and the difficulty of the smackdown as well - but it's really in the playability of this where Street Fighter X Tekken gives you the thrill of an arena fight. Some nice backdrops also flesh out the action - from dinosaurs to people standing by initially talking and then being drawn into the fights, a bit of effort has gone into the backgrounds and it's a welcome touch.

At the end of the day, these are two iconic franchises which have faithfully been ported across to a new game - and the inclusion of arcade, mission or online potential fights give the fluid gameplay a bit more life. It's playable enough fun but for the ultimate combat life, you really need to take this social and include other players - either in the room or out in cyberspace.

Rating:

Shoot Many Robots - PS3 Review

Released by Ubisoft
Platform: PlayStation Network for PS3

Sometimes, it's a case of doing exactly what it says on the tin.

Such is the case of Shoot Many Robots - which is exactly what the game is all about.

In this left to right scrolling game, you play P Walter Tugnut, a hillbilly who finds his world over-run by robots and with no other option but to shoot his way out of the oncoming onslaught. So, with the mobile home about to be overrun and the surrounding hicksville under threat, there's nothing else to do but grab your guns, your best hillbilly moonshine and shoot them critters back into tarnation.

And that's essentially all there really is to do in Shoot Many Robots - aside from customising your character and arsenal - by continually plugging lead into the robots, you get to collect bolts which get traded for weapons or clothes. Sometimes, you can't progress until they've all been wiped out which makes it tough when there's low ammo and no more beer left to swill. Still, on those occasions, there's your fists. Yep, that's right - you can smack a robot down with a well placed slug to it.

In its offline mode, Shoot Many Robots gets fairly boring quite quickly - that's not to say anything about the play or against the cartoony simplified graphics. It's merely more than when it's a co-operative, there's a bit more fun and rivalry in blasting everything into oblivion. It's here the game gains a bit more fun and gives you a bit of a chance to relieve the monotony of just shooting and moving on.

Shoot Many Robots is a fairly slight, disposable bit of fun - its shelf life is probably shorter than normal in its solo form but if you get a few mates round, slug a few beers and fire up this shooter (or do all that solo and head online), it's there that you get a bit more enjoyment out of this robotic romp.

Rating:

Brand new Twilight Breaking Dawn Trailer unleashed

It's nearly the end for the Twilight fans.

The first glimpse of The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 2 trailer has been unleashed on the world - and while it's relatively short, it won't stop the rabid fans from getting hella excited about the final part of the film.

Watch the The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 2 trailer below!

The Hunger Games smashes NZ Box office

Well, it was perhaps inevitable - in its opening weekend, The Hunger Games has smashed the New Zealand box office into pieces.

The film franchise launch has got off to a great start in New Zealand - much in line with the rest of the world. While in the States, Katniss fired the flick to $155million opening weekend, here in NZ, it was a little more modest but still incredibly impressive.

Read The Hunger Games Movie Review here.

Opening on 92 screens, the flick's netted $1,625, 729 - more than 2 and a half times its nearest rival.

It's likely to continue growing as well with great word of mouth, positive reviews and even reports of some fans heading to the cinema to see it more than once.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Game of Thrones Season 1 - Blu Ray Review

Game of Thrones Season 1 - Blu Ray Review

Cast: Sean Bean, Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Mark Addy, Lena Headey
Released by Warner Home Video
Rating: M

Quite simply, if you're a fan of fantasy TV and the genre in general, you need to own this 10 part HBO serial.

The medieval fantasy serial is based on a series of books by George R R Martin (which I confess I've not read) and has snagged a slew of awards and critical acclaim since its launch last year.

It's based on the plights of several families in a world where scheming and slaughter are the way of the world and the families of Seven Kingdoms are locked in battle for The Iron Throne.

But it's much more than that - it's also about betrayal, greed, sex, consquest and honour as well as a whole heap of duplicity.

This initially slow burning drama is compelling stuff right from the get go as it follows different lives and different paths which intersect in violence, fighting and pursual of birth rights. But it's also so well acted that you can't help but drawn into the rich tapestry of story telling - you care about all the characters and their plights - and story threads are given time to breathe as well as sown for future seasons.

With an absolute wealth of additional content which expands the experience, Game of Thrones is simply the TV series of the year which any self respecting fan of fantasy or bloody good TV drama really needs to own.

Simply unmissable and extremely high quality entertainment to engross yourself in.

Extras: Guide to the world, the making of, creating the worlds, character profiles, commentaries - an exemplary bunch of extras from a release which clearly cares about its fans.

Rating:

Brand new Prometheus TV spot reveals more...and new Empire Prometheus cover

So, we're all pretty hyped for Prometheus due in NZ cinemas in June this year...

And now thanks to a new 30 second teaser, we're getting some more hints about what's ahead.
This new TV spot offers a few new bits for the overly hyped, including Noomi Rapace's Elizabeth Shaw caught in a clinch. And there's also a startlingly ominous warning from Charlize Theron's Meredith Vickers....



There's also been the release of a new image from the film too.



It of course follows on from the new Prometheus trailer released just a week ago.



So things are hotting up for Ridley Scott's Prometheus, due in cinemas on June 7th...

And Empire Magazine in the UK's unveiled its new Prometheus cover...Thanks to @prometheus8612 for the image..



Check out all the latest videos released from Ridley Scott's Prometheus - including the Prometheus viral vids.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Sackboy goes racing...

I'm a huge LittleBigPlanet fan - not only am I wetting myself about Sackboy's outing on the VITA this year, I'm replaying LBP1 and 2 to get back into the mood.

So this news this morning from Sony has got me even more excited...



On Your Marks, Get Set, Create! with LittleBigPlanet™Karting

Play, Create, and Share like never before as Sackboy™ races onto PlayStation®3

Auckland, 23rd March 2012:
Sony Computer Entertainment Europe has today announced LittleBigPlanet™ Karting, the newest adventure in the award-winning LittleBigPlanet™ franchise, exclusively for PlayStation®3. Developed by United Front Games, in conjunction with Media Molecule, LittleBigPlanet™ Karting takes the ‘Play, Create, Share’ ethos of LittleBigPlanet and brings it to a fast-paced karting game set within an endlessly imaginative world.

Join Sackboy™ and Sackgirl™ as they make the leap to 3D in a karting adventure to save the Craftworld universe, rendered as beautifully as ever, only now with three dimensions of fun.

Vibrant game worlds will play host to classic karting action as well as a host of other game modes including ultra-competitive arena battles, split screen mode or online via PlayStation®Network, adventurous objective-based missions  and even mini-games providing fun for fans and newcomers, young or old.

This would not be LittleBigPlanet without a world of customisation, and  LittleBigPlanet™ Karting comes loaded with a range of tools – some familiar and some new – to create levels as unique and varied as the six million user-generated levels that the franchise has already been used to generate.

Creativity is not just limited to designing tracks; players can also make their own game rules that leave the constraints of a traditional karting game back in the starting grid. Combined with the all-new 3D environments, plus the ability to customise Sackboy™, karts, and more.

As ever, the emphasis is as much on sharing as on creation. All user-generated content will be sharable around the world through PlayStation®Network, providing access to what promises to be millions of LittleBigPlanet Karting experiences created by the community."

Sounds cool eh - and here's the trailer...


Jak and Daxter: PS3 review

Jax and Daxter - Sony Classics HD collection

Released by PlayStation
Platform: PS3

Largely confined to the PlayStation 2 formats (aside from their inclusion in last year's Move Heroes collection), Jak and Daxter have been crying out for the full HD upgrade to the PS3.

So, it's great news that the 3 games made so excellently by Naughty Dog have been bundled onto one disc and given a spruce up with HD and stereo sound for the PS3.

For those who've never played the great platformers before, it's the tale of 2 friends - Jak and Daxter. Jak is the one with the spiky hair and the hero - and Daxter is a kind of weasel/ otter cross who was once originally human before being transformed after he fell into a hole with mysterious energy in it.

In the first game, The Precursor Legacy, the duo's back story is revealed and they have to collect energy orbs in a free roaming world where jumping and fighting bosses is the MO; in Jak 2, there's a darker feel to the story as Jak's transformed after being experimented on by Dark Eco, a sort of bad energy; and in the third one, Jak 3, the action transfers to Haven City with various missions for the duo to carry out.

I loved the original games - their sandbox nature and platforming fun kept me hooked for hours and each release was a welcome burst of intelligent fun to my console. So, there's little really that's changed with these re-releases; they're still as fun as ever - perhaps the Precursor Legacy looks a little stilted and dated as it transfers to the PS3 but there's no loss of playability.

The Jak and Daxter trilogy is a great addition to this remastering - if there's to be any quibbling, it's maybe the fact that if you've played them already you may not be tempted to try again as no new content has been added - and also personally I was surprised that Jax X wasn't included and perhaps there wasn't a PS3 version of Daxter, the PSP game - but that's only the perfectionist in me talking.

All in all, sit down, log in and play on with Jak and Daxter - and hope at some point soon, Naughty Dog will revisit this fan fave franchise and give it another outing with a new game on either the Vita or the PS3.

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Dr Who - The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe - DVD review

Dr Who - The Doctor, The Widow and The Wardrobe - DVD review

Rating: PG
Released by BBC And Roadshow

So, another festive outing for Matt Smith's 11th Doctor...and it's the most Christmassy Who yet.

Largely riffing on C S Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (The clue's in the title), this one sees the Doc in the middle of World War II and trying to help a potential widow give her 2 children the best Christmas they could ever have before having to tell them their father's died in the war.

Cue The Doc, who's masquerading as a housekeeper and who inadvertently ends up sending the youngest to another dimension - so he has no choice but to save the day.

Christmassy, festive and with very little story (if we're honest), this Who is a light frothy tale which to be honest is worthy of being watched through a bit of a festive haze.

Matt Smith is as ever, simply brilliant as the Doctor - and supporting roles this time for the likes of Claire Skinner, Arabella Weir and Bill Bailey are solid and bring the story nicely together.

Overtly Christmassy, this special is enjoyable; with its mix of great effects and good performances it's a watchable slice of sci fi.


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Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me - Blu Ray Review

Twin Peaks : Fire Walk With Me Blu Ray

Rating: R18
Released by Madman

It's been nearly 20 years since the series Twin Peaks made such an impact on the Cult TV scene.

And it's been equally as long since the filmic prequel from David Lynch confused the hell out of everyone and offered up no answers to what happened after the end of his wonderful TV series.

This flick details the 7 days before Sheryl Lee's Laura Palmer showed up, dead, beaten and wrapped in plastic in a small American town, seething in secrets and lies - as well as hideous darkness.

In theory the story of a good girl, who is a Prom Queen and who dates the school quarterback, gone bad shouldn't really surprise. But throw into that mix, the master of surreal David Lynch and you're set for a medley of the weird with lashings of dark seedy underbelly exposed for all to see.

The Blu Ray conversion looks great and the film's lost none of its weirdness - but there's a frustration that some 20 years on, the only extras thrown onto the disc is the original press kit from the film. Shame, there's no doco looking at the cultural impact of the series - but maybe this way, they keep protecting the mystique of the show.

Extras: Original 1992 film EPK - interviews and clips

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Lost Highway Blu Ray Review

Lost Highway Blu Ray Review

Rating: R18
Released by Madman Home Ent

The second of this month's David Lynch outings on Blu Ray is equally as baffling and as surreal a ride as Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me.

Bill Pullman stars as a man who appears to be accused of murdering someone - only he wakes up one day in a police cell as another man (Balthazar Getty). Throw into that mix, his wife Renee (Patricia Arquette) who appears to have a connection to the murdered - and confusion and surrealism ensues.

Lost Highway is a puzzle, a surreal and sexy trip which makes as much sense as you want it to. The thing is that the journey is so enjoyable and provokes so much debate that it's well worth throwing it into your player and sitting there trying to puzzle it all out.

Lynch is still a trail blazer and his films are so beautifully put together that they're like Picasso pieces of art - you're never quite sure what they mean but they look so good, you're willing to go with it.

Extras: Original interviews from 1996's release, making of, featurette

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Alan Partridge - Mid Morning Matters: DVD Review

Alan Partridge - Mid Morning Matters: DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by BBC and Roadshow

Hapless radio DJ and self professed chat show host, Alan Partridge returns in this UK web based TV series which started life as a series of fifteen minute sketches.

Partridge has always been a favourite character of many - a self obsessed, hapless and ignorant man, he's often hilariously funny without intending to be so. And it's thanks to Steve Coogan that he's become so popular - due to spot on comic timing and an excellent script, the show's as funny as it always was.

Essentially, Partridge is now in the world of digital radio - broadcasting to an area of rural England and using the web at the same time. But despite the leap in technology, he's still a cultural klutz, skirting around racist and sexist ideas, Partridge is an ideal caricature of the many local UK DJs who are self deluded.

In this 6 part series, he's joined by radio side kick Simon and potential crush Zoe - but he's still as eminently watchable as ever - even if you find yourself cringing at some of the things which come out of his mouth.

While the fact these have been spliced together from 15 minute web serials means there's occasionally a bit of disjointedness, I can guarantee you there are chuckles aplenty.

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