Friday, 31 August 2012

More Dredd images revealed - and brand new Dredd clip

More Dredd images revealed


We're heading ever closer to the October NZ release of the brand new Dredd 2012 movie, starring Karl Urban as Judge Joe Dredd and Olivia Thirlby as Judge Cassandra Anderson.

I've seen the film but am under a sworn embargo not to say anything about it - however, I will reveal that fans of 2000AD can breathe a sigh of relief.

Full Dredd movie review will be up 21st September when the embargo passes- but for now and new to New Zealand audiences, here's a few new shots from the Dredd movie, featuring Lean Headey as Ma-Ma and a new shot of Dredd and Anderson.

There's also a brand new clip of Dredd 3D with Karl Urban uttering an iconic line.


Dredd 3D hits NZ cinemas on October 4th.





















































PS VITA goes retro...

PS VITA goes retro


It's the news which is likely to mean I will see another day of summer, when it arrives.

PlayStation's revealed there's a whole heap of cool classic titles being released onto the VITA from now.

Including fan faves Crash Bandicoot and OddWorld: Abe's Exoddus.

Here are the details from PlayStation's release



Over 100 Classic PlayStation® Titles Explode onto PlayStation® Vita – to enhance the ultimate games collection with games priced from only $2.30
PlayStation® One Classics are coming to PS Vita to complete the ultimate digital games line-up including PSP (PlayStation®Portable)minis and exclusive PS Vita games

Auckland, 30 August 2012. Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) has today announced an extensive list of over 100 PlayStation® one Classics from the console that changed the face of gaming, now available for PlayStation®Vita (PS Vita), bringing quality, variety and heritage to the groundbreaking portable entertainment system.

Available from 30 August 2012, PS Vita users will have access to a large number of exciting PS one Classics to complement the great range of PSP and “minis” games already available for PS Vita to enhance the ultimate digital games line-up. PS one Classics coming to PS Vita include titles that gamers have loved for over a decade with all-time favourites such as Metal Gear Solid, Crash Bandicoot® and Final Fantasy® VII all available to download from  PlayStation®Store (PS Store).

With PS Vita System Software update ver. 1.80, PS Vita owners will be able to experience unadulterated nostalgia and play some of their favourite PS one Classics on the portable device. For gamers who have grown up with PlayStation® this is a chance for them to experience their favourite games on the ultimate portable entertainment system. Additionally, PS Vita owners who have previously purchased PS one Classics from PS Store will be able to download and play them on their PS Vita system at no extra charge.

Not only will there be an outstanding variety of content available, there will also be great value. With games available from PS Store from just $2.30, PS Vita owners will be able to get their hands on an amazing range of titles without breaking the bank.

A full list of titles can be found at eu.playstation.com, but highlights from the range include:
PS one Classics 
-
·       Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus(GT Interactive)  Quirky platformer starring the unusual, but iconic Abe
·       Tomb Raider II Starring Lara Croft (Rebellion) – Hugely popular sequel to the genre-defining  action / adventure game Tomb Raider

·       Crash Bandicoot® (SCEE) – Classic platforming action from Naughty Dog, creators of Uncharted and The Last of Us

·       SILENT HILL (Konami) – Debut chapter in the terrifying survival horror game series that has been haunting dreams since 1999

·       Vagrant Story™ (Square Enix) – Square Soft developed action / adventure role playing game that focuses on weapon creation and modification, as well as elements of puzzle-solving and strategy

·       WipEout® (SCEE) – First in the series of futuristic racing games set in the year 2025

·       GRANDIA (Ubisoft)– Role-playing game set in a fantasy world of emerging technology and exploration

·       Ridge Racer Type 4 (Namco Bandai Europe) – Arcade racing at its finest

PSP -
·       Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (Konami)  Third person action game widely considered as one of the best titles to come to PSP
·       Dissidia® 012™ Final Fantasy® (Square Enix)   Prequel to Dissidia Final Fantasy, 012 revolves around the twelfth cycle of the eternal conflict between the gods Cosmos and Chaos
·       Final Fantasy® IV Complete Collection (Square Enix)   Ultimate compilation of the FF IV saga and its sequel The After Years
·       TACTICS OGRE™: Let Us Cling Together™ (Square Enix)   Tactical role-playing game regularly included on “all-time favourites” lists
·       Valkyria Chronicles™ II (SEGA) – Epic adventure game set in fictitious 1930s Europe 
minis -
·       OMG-Z! (Laughing Jackal Ltd) – A  favourite from the minis range, OMG-Z is a zombie-themed action puzzle
·       Blast Off (Half Brick Studios) – Take control of your rocket ship and rescue lost astronauts by navigating 45 levels of planets and asteroids
·       Fieldrunners (Subatomic Studios)  Popular tower defence game with the  goal of stamping out waves of enemies before they make it across a themed battlefield map and escape
·       Angry Birds (Rovio and Abstraction Games)  Launch them birds, smash those pigs! Fire your squawking birds into the enemy fortresses and shatter them

PS Vita introduces new ways to play, delivering immersive gameplay experiences that have never been offered on any other handheld gaming device. Equipped with dual analog sticks, a vibrant 5-inch OLED touchscreen, a unique Rear Touch Pad, powerful quad core processor, six-axis motion sensing system, built-in microphone, front and rear cameras and apps including YouTube, Facebook and Skype, PS Vita is the ultimate portable entertainment system. In addition to the ultimate portable gaming experience, PS Vita provides consumers with access to music, videos, PlayStation®Network trophies, photos, web browser and more.

The World is in Play. Visit eu.playstation.com/psvita to find out more.

First Night: DVD Review

First Night: DVD Review


Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Entertainment

Richard E Grant, who normally can do no wrong, stars in this piece about a rich industrialist and frustrated opera singer, Adam, who wants to stage a performance of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutti at his estate.

So he flies in a bunch of opera nuts, as well as conductor, Celia, played by actual singer Sarah Brightman to whip them all into shape for the event.

However, passions are lurking behind the scenes in this piece - and soon the farce is afoot.

First Night is a slightly embarrassing affair - it's over the top, farcical and too silly nature mean that it's more cringeworthy than award worthy.

The plot is standard screwball rom-com silly fare, and is straight out of the 1970s British sitcom with its mix ups, misunderstandings and miscellaneous mischief. Throw in the fact that the actors *cough* sing as well (Some of them do and some don't) then you can see where this is going.

Richard E Grant is so over the top, and is clearly not singing that it's almost amusing, but the others who sing along with the opera give such good mime performances, that singers on shows like Top of the Pops would be impressed.

Ultimately, First Night is a comedy with humour back from the 1970s - and while it may have a charm to some, I personally found it irksome, annoying and couldn't wait for it to end.

Rating:


Inside ASSASSIN’S CREED III

Inside ASSASSIN’S CREED III


We're getting even more inside knowledge about the upcoming Assassin's Creed III.

The latest video released takes you inside the whole combat, weapons and tactics of the upcoming game.

Assassin's Creed III hits October 31st.

Take a look below:



And for a refresher, here's Episode 1 of Inside Assassin's Creed III:

New multiplayer mode for Aliens: Colonial Marines announced

New multiplayer mode for Aliens: Colonial Marines announced

SEGA® Europe Ltd. and Gearbox Software today announced Escape mode, a new  competitive multiplayer mode, for its highly anticipated blockbuster Aliens: Colonial Marines™ video game, launching February 12, 2013 worldwide. With a competitive death match game mode already revealed earlier in the year, Escape mode is the second in a number of competitive multiplayer modes for Aliens: Colonial Marines and will challenge players in an intense scenario against the universe’s deadliest killers, the Xenomorph.

An exhilarating experience for fans of the ALIENS universe, Escape mode puts the four-person US Colonial Marines team on the offensive against a four-player Xenomorph team. The Colonial Marines must blast their way through the fast-paced map in order to escape the attacking Xenomorphs, who in return will try to eliminate their prey as quickly as possible. Under the pressure and limited in time, players will have to work together as a team, utilizing each faction’s unique skills, and identifying their opponents’ weak spots to either reach the safety of the escape point or to eliminate their targets.

In partnership with Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products and developed by critically acclaimed studio Gearbox Software, Aliens: Colonial Marines will bring new levels of bone-chilling suspense and adrenaline-filled action to the renowned franchise. As the authentic addition to the ALIENS franchise canon, the game’s stunning visuals and adrenaline pumping action will deliver a breathtakingly immersive four-player drop-in drop-out cooperative campaign and expansive competitive multiplayer mode. Providing for an innovative asymmetrical competitive multiplayer experience, Aliens: Colonial Marines lets players fight in first person as the ultimate badasses – the United States Colonial Marines, or in third person as the universe’s deadliest killers – the Xenomorphs. Plunging into familiar and new environments from the iconic film franchise, players will have to fight the fear and face the true horrors of the ALIENS universe.

Aliens: Colonial Marines will be available in stores across the globe on February 12, 2013 on PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and Windows PC. A release date for the announced Wii U™ version will be revealed at a later time. 

Take a look at the Aliens: Colonial Marines Gameplay walkthrough:

Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Eye of the Storm: DVD Review

The Eye of the Storm: DVD Review


Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Entertainment

What is it about families and their ongoing issues which continue to make such cinematic dramas?

In this based on the Nobel prize winner Patrick White's book, Charlotte Rampling stars as Elizabeth Hunter, a woman who controls all in her life - society, her staff, her children; but the once great beauty will now determine her most defiant act as she chooses her time to die.

But in dying, Hunter still wields a heck of a lot of power and influence over her expat son (Geoffrey Rush) and daughter (Judy Davis) - even though they're there to pick over their inheritance.

It takes a wee while for The Eye of the Storm to get going and while it's meandering and a bit wavering in its direction, it's never so in its acting; Rampling, Rush and Davis turn in great performances in an at times, occasionally difficult to watch film.

The Eye of the Storm will appeal to a slightly older demo, who are willing to revel in its lugubrious overtones and general slower feel - a good solid cast give their all to this film, but it can't quite transcend the stuffiness of its story, even if it was stuffed with exquisite period detail.

Extras: Q&A and audio commentary with director Fred Schepisi

Rating:




Episodes: DVD Review

Episodes: DVD Review


Rating: R16
Released by BBC And Roadshow Home Entertainment

There's always been plenty of hints of satire within Hollywood - and now this series emerges with its eye firmly on the TV industry.

The brilliant Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig (former Green Wingers) play writers of a successful UK sitcom which has attracted the attention of an American network, who've decided they want to remake it for their audiences.

Lulled to LA by promises of them not changing anything, the happily married duo head to Hollywood to find everything's changing - and the network bosses want former Friends star Matt Le Blanc for the lead...

Soon, things become complicated and a bit tricky for the trio...

Episodes is a gently amusing look at the industry and packed with a lot of insider gags which may not be to everyone's tastes. However, it's on the money when it comes to satirising the TV machine and the life behind the scenes.

It also works because of the lengths Le Blanc is willing to go to destroy his image of Joey - as well as the general affability of Mangan and Greig. Funny, insightful and incisive in long spurts (while occasionally not as sharp as it could have been - there is a feeling that the writers could have gone further), Episodes is well worth your time.

Extras: Making of

Rating


Far Cry 3: Island Tour

Far Cry 3: Island Tour


As we gear up for the November 29th release of Far Cry 3, Ubisoft's released a video, giving you the inside look at the island.

The video gives you the chance to join Agent Huntley, an ex-CIA operative for an insider's tour of the insanity of Far Cry 3. There's a first peek at the island's history and a chance to travel around an exotic world meeting its mysterious and deadly residents.

Take a look below:

The Avengers: Blu Ray Review

The Avengers: Blu Ray Review


Rating: M
Released by Sony Home Entertainment

When the world faces a threat like no other before thanks to the meddling of Tom Hiddleston's Loki, who's determined to wreak havoc on Earth, Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) of S.H.I.E.L.D has no choice but to bring together the greatest army of Marvel superheroes ever assembled under the "Avengers Initiative".

But despite pulling together Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) on a worldwide global recruitment drive, Fury -along with Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson - find the biggest challenge threatening the world may not be Loki, the Cosmic Cube / Tesseract (which has been teased through the previous films of Thor and Captain America) and his army, but the egos and issues within the team...

With a writing pedigree of Joss Whedon and Zak Penn plus directing from Joss himself, there's plenty of expectation on the shoulders of this film.

The first question has to be - does it deliver?

The simple answer is a resounding hell, yes. And not just to the fanboy crowd too. Sure, they'll feel satiated by the references and the reverence to the mythology of these characters but there's plenty to love in terms of action and plot - as well as much unexpected humour throughout.


From its action packed pre-titles sequence (which  references Stargate and The Terminator), The Avengers 2012 movie is a film which goes at it full tilt right from the get go and succeeds hitting every target it can, while screaming utterly epic on its way.

It's always difficult as well with a film like this, with so many characters in the spotlight to neglect any of them and over-focus on one of them. Thankfully, this is not the case with the Avengers. Every cast member - from the core of the initiative to Clark Gregg's wonderfully funny and human Agent Coulson - get their moment in the spotlight and every one of them seizes it and leaves an impression permanently etched on your mind.


With a great ensemble cast, a smart script and a fanboy eye for detail, The Avengers is a superhero film that does more than just ticks the box. It Hulk smashes the box to pieces with joyous geeky entertainment and cinema smarts -complete with kick ass action sequences. What's also good about this is how broad the appeal is - by not disappearing too far up its own fanboy wazoo, you've got a film that pretty much anyone can enjoy the spectacle of.

Full credit needs to go to Joss Whedon for his Avenging efforts in bringing this to the screen, peppering it with brilliant one liners and ensuring everyone involved in the Marvel Universe is treated well while remaining true to both its comic book origins and the set up of the previous films.


The Avengers is destined to be a classic and a shining example of how great these mass entertainment films actually can be when they're done superbly, respectfully and totally awesomely.

Extras: Brilliant One shot piece, Item 47, deleted scenes, gag reel and visual journey.


Rating:



Wanderlust: Blu Ray Review

Wanderlust: Blu Ray Review


Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Entertainment

Jennifer Aniston and Paul Rudd team up again in this comedy about a couple of New Yorkers Linda and George, who when evicted from their studio apartment downtown due to lack of rent, end up in a hippy commune of Elysium.

Their accidental first night stay proves to be perfect bliss and when they find real life unable to fulfill them, they head back to Elysium.

Only, second time around, things aren't as great as they'd thought - property developers are sniffing at the land; George becomes more uptight at the whole hippy vibe, and Linda gets fully into the way of life....

Wanderlust lacks enough laughs to sustain it - and while it initially starts off pretty funny and sardonic, it soon loses its way unfortunately. It goes more for the school of scenes starting off funny, then going on way too long and just ending up the wrong side of uncomfortably awkward.

Which is a real shame as Aniston and Rudd have great comedic chops together (and the lure of a topless Jennifer Aniston may prove too much of a drawcard to some) - and despite a relatively tight ensemble who has some talent between them, there's just not enough humour or WTF moments to shock and amuse in equal measures.

Disappointing.

Extras: Gag reel, deleted scenes - nothing exceptional at all.

Rating:


Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Being Human Series 4: Blu Ray Review

Being Human Series 4: Blu Ray Review


Rating: M
Released by BBC And Roadshow Home Entertainment

Series 4 of Being Human was always going to be a difficult ask given that Aidan Turner's vampire Mitchell met his end.

So it's somewhat with a level of trepidation I approached these latest eight episodes of the series - it follows Annie, George and new friend Tom (This is England's Michael Socha) as they mourn the loss of Mitchell.

The body count's quite high as well within the first episode alone - with Sinead Keenan's Nina and original series member George meeting their makers. So that just leaves Annie and a baby Eve, who's got a prophecy hanging over its head.

However, Eve's very being attracts the interest of the Old Ones, an ancient league of vampires - and once again the group's on the run.

This series isn't as bad as you'd expect given only one third of the original group remains - but there is somewhat of a feeling that perhaps it could be time to wrap it all up and move on. That said, the introduction of new characters really gives the series the shake up it actually needed after the last couple had it wallowing somewhat in the melancholy rather than energetic and humorous.

The leads are watchable and the stories work well enough that you really care when the end comes around, which is emotional and gripping.

Whether a fifth season will work as well remains to be seen, but if it all ended now, it wouldn't be a bad thing.

Rating:


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Expendables 2: Movie Review

The Expendables 2: Movie Review


Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris, Dolph Lundgren, Jean Claude van Damme, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Bruce Willis (no room for anyone else)
Director: Simon West

Once more unto the breach, my friends. Once more, for these ageing action stars of yore.


Having successfully blown up a lot of stuff (and the box office in the process) in the Expendables back in 2010, it was perhaps no surprise that Sly and his mercenary team of stars from the 80s would return again. (Sly and the Family Stallone, anyone?)

This time around, it's a bit more of a personal quest for the group.

When CIA operative Church (a relatively non-smirking Willis) commands Barney Ross (Stallone) and his unit to extract a safe from a shot down plane, the group duly heads out to pay off their debt.

But what they don't realise is that sneering sunglasses wearing bad guy Jean Vilain (Seriously???) is also after the contents of the safe - and when he takes out one of their own, the Expendables' thirst for retribution propels them to seek revenge.

And that's really it for plot.

Except for plenty of explosions, big guns being shot and crowd pleasing cameos (if you're a fan of the 80s action genre), then the Expendables 2 doesn't do anything more than what it sets out to.

There are two schools of thought on this one - it may be bigger, louder and packed with more explosions and mayhem than ever before, but it doesn't half feel a little soulless as it goes about its plot.

This ageing action thriller is surely aimed at giving the 80s action stars some cred and show that they can still do it with the best. However, it ends up feeling more akin to an episode of The A Team populated by your slightly embarrassing parents, who are determined to show they can still do it, via some grunting, running and generally smacking down whatever they can to demonstrate they're still in shape.

It's incredibly dour with a bit of self deprecation here and there but not enough to carry it off; sure, there's cheese aplenty and cameos to tug at the toughest action hero heart as it enters its final furlong - and there's also risible dialogue throughout. Even with the addition of a female to the mercenary group seems like a shallow attempt to shake the dynamic up and get a few women into the auditorium.


And yet, despite railing against these ideas, I can't quite tell if the film deliberately chose those intentions or whether those involved are such geniuses of the genre that we've all had the wool pulled over our eyes.

Arnie's rolled out like some geriatric deus-ex-machina, and spends his little on-screen time stealing all his scenes, shooting everything and dispensing various catchphrases from his past (no sign of Hasta la vista, so maybe we should be grateful); there's a great use of the Sergio Leone theme from the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, though the person who shows up afterwards is not who you'd expect, Liam Hemsworth gives an utterly ludicrous and laughable speech about how, despite the horrors of war, it was the killing of a camp dog which forced him out of the forces (and thus, being a bit vulnerable marks him for death); and even Stallone looks a little weary and tired as it wears on. Crowd pleasing cameos ensue and ultimately, the film's final set piece ends up at an airport, doling out more carnage than a security scanner would ever prevent from happening. Even the final smackdown between a vengeful Ross and wry Vilain lacks the punch-the-air-in-glee denouement you'd expect from such a confrontation you've been teased with over the past 100 minutes.

Despite all the macho gung-ho testosterone on show, and with all of the formulaic plot constraints and constant bombardment of explosions, and people being shot to bits (after dispatching one guy with guts and gusto, Stallone tells his victim to "Rest in Pieces"), if you check your brain at the door and fancy a piece of retro action which comes with a large side order of cheese and explosions, has little coherence and originality, then the Expendables 2 is the perfect night out for you.

Bear in mind though Arnie's final line - when his pals are given an ancient plane to fly off into the distance, and is told that it "belongs in a museum", the Governator smirkingly nods before announcing that "We all do."

Though with a third Expendables outing slated to go into production and with box office anticipation still high for these OAP mercenaries, that seems highly unlikely to happen.

Rating: 


Monday, 27 August 2012

Sound Shapes: PS3 Review

Sound Shapes: PS3 Review


Released by Playstation
Format: PS3

Sometimes, a game can very nearly defy belief and can suck you in completely when you're not expecting to enjoy it.

Such a game is Sound Shapes aka How I lost 36 hours of my life over one weekend.

Unleashed on to the PS3 and PS Vita, this is a brand new gaming experience, which may not be as easily understood by my words...but bear with me.

Designed by Jonathan Mak and Shaw-Han Liem, it's a platformer which will literally bring music to your ears. It's a side scrolling game which uses music to set the tone and also to help play the game. With tunes from the likes of Beck, Jim Guthrie and graphics that are as stripped back and barebones as you can imagine (think 80s gaming with a large dollop of garishness), Sound Shapes doesn't sound like it'd be much fun.

But it's fiendishly addictive; like seeing an album turned into electronica and put onto a screen in front of you. You race through levels as a little ball, clinging to walls, sticking to objects and collecting circular orbs. As you power through the orbs, the beat picks up - and through five mini levels within five other levels - you try to complete them all by collecting as many of the "beats" as you can.

And that's kind of it - except it's not.

Completion of levels gives you the building blocks to build your own levels, which can be shared online and with the community. The more orbs you nab, the more tools you get to play with - simple, eh?

Music and gameplay are fused effortlessly into this piece and while it's simple to play and you're likely to clock the levels pretty quickly, there are plenty of challenges left. Completion of the campaign unlocks the death mode (trickiness personified) and also provides you with heaps of bits to build your own levels, to share, play and complete.

It looks like UGC is the way to go with this game - and it offers up infinite possibilities and plenty of scope for musical fun.

Sound Shapes represents best what I like about the gaming experience currently.

With the arrival of the VITA, gaming's suddenly become a lot more fun, clever, intelligent and fiendishly different, it's not content to sit on its laurels and churn out the same content month after month; this kind of vibrant inventiveness deserves to be applauded and long may it continue.

Rating:


NZ Film Festival goes regional....

NZ Film Festival goes regional



The New Zealand International may have finished in the main centres for 2012 but it continues to roll out to the regions. I caught up with festival director Bill Gosden to get his thoughts on the year just gone - and also to see what the regions can look forward to this year - and what they shouldn't miss out on.

1)      So that’s the end of Auckland and Wellington (and Dunedin) for another year, how’s the festival been - both in terms of sales and experience?Sales exceeded 101,000 in Auckland and we’ve got to be happy about that. We were down 1,000 in Wellington which we attribute largely to the exact coincidence of the Olympics and a general air of caution pervading the capital. Dunedin has been great this year, 2,000 admits ahead of 2011.

2)      What have been the highlights for the main centres?Moonrise Kingdom, West of Memphis, Cabin in the Woods, The Angels’ Share, No, Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Marley, From Up on Poppy Hill, and in Auckland, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra Live Cinema.

3)      Which films do you think these audiences missed out on and that the regional centres shouldn’t miss out on?
In the Fog, the Imposter, Sleepless Night, Pictures of Susan, Shut Up and Play the Hits and The Red House
have proven completely engaging – to smaller audiences than we felt they deserved.


4)      How do you think audiences differ as the festival tours the country?Because attending the festival there requires so much more effort than elsewhere, the Auckland audience is the most intensely focussed. Many Wellingtonians take a more nonchalant approach. The Dunedin audience is our most unnervingly spontaneous, rarely booking and turning up en masse (or not at all) from ten minutes before the advertised start. Elsewhere we can see small venues sell out in advance and schedule extra screenings, but never in Dunedin. This year we’ve had to turn away 100s from Dunedin Rialto screenings of Tatarakihi and The Last Ocean.

5)      Do many of the regionals have the DCP technology – and will people really notice the difference?They certainly will: in Tauranga, Masterton and Hawkes Bay we have no DCP at our disposal and the programme is much, much smaller. The Kiwi content is still strong as we are touring our own HDCAM player.

6)      What’s been your personal highlight so far?There have been many. The first DCP screening at the Civic, Beasts of the Southern Wild  got things off to a stunning start – and the finale with the APO was extraordinary. The response everywhere to such a large and varied New Zealand programme has been very gratifying.

 7)      What do you think will do well around the country?Cabin, Marley, Angels’ Share, Amour, The Last Ocean

8)      What plans do you have for the 2013 festival?Carlos Reygadas has already confirmed his Post Tenebras Lux… We are hoping DCP will be the standard medium by next year and that there will be no more fussing with myriad digital formats.

9)      What’s been the best audience reaction to what you’ve programmed this year?
The big receptions for Beasts and Tatarakihi pleased me the most. Ant gets the credit for orchestrating Cabin in the Woods euphoria.

10)   Just finally, how do you intend to spend the downtime after the regional tour finishes – is there any film or TV you’re desperate to catch up on? Or will you be hoping for a glorious summer to live alfresco and out of the cinema?It’s true that, despite my professional calling, summer is my favourite season, but I am very tantalised by the forthcoming release of 50s and 60s Hitchcock classics on Blu-Ray. 

For all the details of where the NZ Film Festival is hitting around the regions and what's playing, head to www.nzff.co.nz for more!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Moonrise Kingdom: Movie Review

Moonrise Kingdom: Movie Review


Cast: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand
Director: Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson's latest whimsical outing collects together eccentricities, visual gags and quirks aplenty as it unfolds on the screen.

Set in 1965 New England, a tale of first love blooms as scout Sam (first time actor Gilman) breaks out from his troop and meets his love Suzy (also, first time actress Hayward) who frees herself from the shackles of her lawyer family (played by the ever deadpan Bill Murray and a stoic Frances McDormand).

But the 12 year old pair's escape doesn't go unnoticed in the small New England time and a search is launched for them as a hurricane approaches.

Moonrise Kingdom is trademark Anderson with his usual idiosyncratic quirkiness still present but dialled down a little.

The music of Benjamin Britten forms a major backbone of this lightly deft piece which is dazzlingly funny and heartfully humorous throughout, despite dealing with slightly precocious kids and more innocent times.

A star-packed cast offers up the very best of what's given to them but the film belongs firmly to the two leads and Anderson, whose eye for the artfully insane and utterly charming are once again spot on in this crowd pleasing sure-fire audience winner.

The main duo of Hayward and Gilman work very well together in this film which is drenched in the yellow tones of the 1960s; their performances are cute and watchable, as the little moments in the film make you laugh. It's a comedy of deadpan deliciousness in places which is sly and wry.

Every one of the cast fits into this oddball world with its over pronounced quirkiness and over accentuated dialogue.

Moonrise Kingdom is a delight; it's a salute to the simplicities of childish times as we view the unfolding romance. Coupled with some delightful comic rhythms, it's nothing short of a cinematic treat.

Rating:



 

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Julia's Eyes: DVD Review

Julia's Eyes: DVD Review


Rating: M
Released by Vendetta Films


A Spanish horror/ psychological thriller which set Spain’s box office alight, Julia’s Eyes shows up with the tag, produced by Guillermo del Toro and with the weight of expectation.

Rueda (who made such an impact in arthouse thriller The Orphanage a couple of years back) is Julia; when Julia’s blind twin Sara hangs herself in her basement, Julia suspects foul play.

But Julia, like her twin Sara, suffers from a degenerative eye disease causing her to gradually go blind – and as she investigates further, she finds her eyesight failing and sliding into darkness.

Combined with the fact Julia’s hunt for a killer throws up more questions than answers, it becomes a race against time for her as her eyes begin to fail and the killer begins to get closer.

Julia’s Eyes is atmospheric, claustrophobic, unsettling and well acted – but at times, it does lapse into a “there’s a killer in the house, let’s run around blind (literally)” kind of horror, which is a shame as it detracts from the genuinely spooky start and feel of the flick.

Rueda is immensely watchable as the twins – and her growing horror is evident and well acted thanks to a restrained performance which is empathetic and gripping. With a creeping sense of “there’s something just out of the corner of my eye”, Rueda reels you in.

It’s just a shame that the story lapses into a few horror clich├ęs and loses some of its freshness as the ever so slightly overlong story unspools.

Extras: Trailer, B Roll and Interviews

Rating:

Dr Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy: DVD Review

Dr Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy: DVD Review


Rating: PG
Released by BBC and Roadshow Home Entertainment

Into the show's 25th season and The Greatest Show in the Galaxy.

Starring the dream team of Sylvester McCoy's 7th Doctor and Sophie Aldred's streetsmart Ace, the pair end up on a planet (ie quarry somewhere in England) after being invited to attend the psychic circus. Clowns,  gods of Ragnarok and the kid who played Adrian Mole on TV all these years ago await the duo.

Dr Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy is a pretty good and solid entry into the show's history; Aldred and McCoy have a great chemistry together and this serial throws up some genuinely unsettling imagery too - if ever you were a bit suspicious of clowns, then this show will put you off completely.

Sure, there are parallels between the ratings war between the Doc and Coro as the Doc's pulled into an arena and ordered to entertain or die, but Dr Who: The Greatest Show in the Galaxy is a fun slice of Whovian story telling, which sets the tone for future seasons and hints at a more manipulative Doctor.

An average set of extras completes the release - a nice piece looking over how the 7th Doctor's era was covered in the papers explains why there were a few issues - but overall, the set is not massively enhanced by the extra content.

Rating:


Friday, 24 August 2012

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: DVD Review

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: DVD Review


Rating: PG
Released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

From the director of Shakespeare in Love comes the tale of a group of seven British OAPs who decide to spend their retirement in a hotel in India, having "outsourced" their twilight years.

There's Evelyn, a newly widowed housewife (Judi Dench); Douglas and Jean (Nighy and Wilton) whose lost investment in their daughter's business means they're now broke; Graham (Wilkinson), a retired court judge who grew up in India; ageing lothario Norman (Pickup); Madge, a similarly aged nymphomanic (Imrie) and Muriel (Smith), a bitter lonely racist who has to head for India to get a hip operation.

Unfortunately for the group, the hotel is a lot less than the brochure promised - it's somewhat ramshackle despite the best attempts of would be manager Sonny (Slumdog's Dev Patel) to try and bring investment into it.

But gradually in their own ways, the group begins to adjust to life there - or in two cases, not so much - and find that even in their later years, there's still much on offer from the world around them.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is one of those films the word "nice" was invented for; it's a crowd pleasing, snuggly jumper of a film which, while a little overlong, exudes a warm fuzziness and glow which extends beyond you leaving the cinema.

In a very well put together opening sequence, as we're introduced to the characters, we're given all of their backstory and all we need to know about them right away. It's a nice touch and a cleverly deft piece of direction which Madden handles well. 


There's plenty of humour on display too - Dame Maggie Smith's racist and elderly Muriel says of the time they have left on earth being so short "that she doesn't even buy green bananas." It's this kind of humour which permeates the stereotypes of the British abroad story and while occasionally it's predictable, it will be lapped up - no doubt as a level of recognition shines through.

Each of the main cast gets their moment to shine; Dench and Nighy stand out in this ensemble and Wilkinson adds a poignancy to his high court judge. Perhaps the only exception is Patel's Sonny who feels a little sidelined towards the end of the film. India gets a little time to shine as the backdrop but it's never front and central to the action, giving you a taster of life in this love and relationships drama.

Overall, you can see exactly what's coming in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel; the racist whose eyes will be opened; the widower who will step out from her dead husband's shadow; the bickering couple who will discover where their future happiness lies and an Indian who's threatened by an arranged marriage - it's all perfectly obvious what will transpire. And while there will be some who'll roll their eyes as this plays out on the screen, there will be many - including a larger elderly contingent of the audience who will recognise a lot of the universal frustrations - who'll lap up this middle of the road pleasantly watchable and charming dramedy.


Extras: Welcome to the real hotel, casting legends piece, behind the story and other mini docos.
Rating:

Darksiders 2 - Game Review

Darksiders 2 - Game Review


Released by THQ
Platform: PS3

Here comes Death.

Well, more specifically, one of the four horsemen in this new action/adventurer game from THQ, which is the sequel to Darksiders but takes place around the same time. A parallel-a-game if you will..

When fellow Brother horseman War is taken captive and blamed for starting Armageddon, Death sets out to prove his brother's innocence and rescue him.

Resembling a sort of dreadlocked Skeletor, this version of Death is mad, bad and angry and determined to save his brother. So it's into the realm he goes, into a frozen world where crystal creatures are ready to break through the ice and beat seven shades of, erm, death out of him.

Starting off in Darksiders 2 entails a bit of training on how to walk along walls and of course, wield the axe and attack the baddies, lurking around. You can't block attacks (aside from cutaway sequences in the middle of fights which require you to mash the Square button) but you can wield some pretty impressive damage here and there. Each attack throws up a barrel of numbers above the creatures, in something akin to RPG board games years and years ago, before they're beaten down.

Treasure, weapons, health potions all lie around defeated enemies for the taking - and gradually, you get to wield more weapons and unleash more chaos.

A heady mix of quests, puzzles and combat make up the majority of this game play and it does actually take a bit of time to take down the level bosses; in fact, an early fight was actually a lot tougher than expected and nearly reduced me to giving up on Darksiders 2.

Thankfully, a bit of perseverance and some frantic button pressing got me past that and into a world which is entrancing, captivating and a lot more fun than you would have expected. Darksiders 2 is eminently playable and enjoyable - Death's never been so much fun.

Rating:



Thursday, 23 August 2012

How Far Is Heaven : Movie Review

How Far Is Heaven : Movie Review


Cast: The people of Jerusalem
Director: Christopher Pryor and Miriam Smith

Originally premiering in the New Zealand International Film Festival, How Far is Heaven now finally gets a wider release.

This doco spends time in the community of Jerusalem, just outside Whanganui, where the majesty of the river flows through the heart of the community. It's here the Sisters of Compassion have lived for the past 120 years - and today, only three nuns remain.

This film follows the life of Sister Margaret Mary over a year - she's a regular volunteer at the school; by spending time with her and the community, the cameras capture not only the majesty of the surrounding landscape but the diminishing role played by the Sisters in the community which is becoming more staunchly Maori.

But as well as charting the divides between Christianity and Maori beliefs within the community, it also concentrates on the kids of the area, whose various views veer from fear of the local taniwha to general impishness and refusal to be anything other than cheeky when day to day life comes calling.

How Far Is Heaven is a picturesque, vitally important document of community here in Aotearoa these days; it captures an innocence of children and a vital paradigm and paradox of tradition and its contrasts. All of it among some truly wonderfully done cinematography. With a blissfully judge free approach to all sides of the community, the filmmakers have crafted together something which is both respectful and moving, a portrait of a life many of us will never see and experience but whose very existence is central to our own.

Rating:








Total Recall: Movie Review

Total Recall: Movie Review


Cast: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, Bill Nighy
Director: Len Wiseman

It's the 2012 version of Total Recall...this time with no Arnie in sight.

Following the break out of a chemical Third World War which devastated the planet, the world is divided into two major colonies in the 21st Century - the United Federations of Britain and The Colonies.

The two ends of the Earth are joined by a giant gravity elevator, The Fall, which joins them via the Earth's core - and is used daily as a commute for the workers. 

Factory worker Douglas Quaid (Farell) leads a boring existence; he has a crummy job working on building robot synthetic police, lives in a bit of a slum and with a beautiful wife, Lori (Beckinsale).

Troubled by nightmares in which he appears to be a spy, Quaid decides to visit Rekall, a company which provides its clients with fake memories of a life they'd like to lead.

But when the trip to Rekall goes haywire, Quaid finds himself on the run.

This Total Recall remake ramps up the political aspects of the original and leaves aside any notion of anything other than mediocrity.

Granted, Wiseman's created a dark and greying dystopian future, with cityscapes which have hints of Blade Runner and slums proliferating his United Federal Britain and the Colonies.

But it's a CGI shade too far and gives the whole experience a distinct computer game feel, with sections playing out like the latest videogame - escape from Rekall, escape over rooftops, run from the synths, avoid your wife who's trying to shoot the hell out of you etc etc.

Still it is Len Wiseman after all - he who created the slow mo violence of the Underworld series, a trick he employs once again here as bullets fly right from the start.

Farrell acts better than Schwarzenegger (that's a given perhaps) but there is never any real edge to his continually confused and on the run Quaid throughout; Biel is a little more than just wet as his resistance co-fighter, Nighy is criminally underused as the leader of the insurgence, Matthias; Cranston manages to keep it the right side of evil rather than hamming it up as Cohaagen, a politico hell-bent on world domination and Beckinsale is a hard faced but yet pouty would be killer/wife from hell.

Shots of hordes of white synthetic robots toward the end recall Attack of the Clones; there's no trip to Mars as in the original and the whole thing has an inexorable sense of deja vu.

Yet occasionally, there are some pleasing visual touches- a flying car chase scene provides some thrills and breaks up the continual Farrell vs Beckinsale chases; plus some of the potential upgrades of technology deployed look totally plausible and just within our reach.

It's a shame because the 2012 version of Total Recall could have done with a little more of that spark of originality rather than trotting out predictably formulaic action sequences which make the whole film instantly forgettable and present a spectacle, lacking in real grandeur. Whereas the original film had iconic moments and ones which have lived on for good or for bad, this latest, really doesn't have anything which lingers long in the mind afterwards.

In summary, my question is a simple one - where do I sign up to get my memory wiped?

Rating: