Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Bait 3D: Movie Review

Bait 3D: Movie Review


Cast: Xavier Samuel, Chris Betts, Phoebe Tonkin, Julian McMahon, Sharni Vinson,
Director: Kimble Rendall

What is it about those Aussies and their shark worries?

Well, whatever it is, this latest release will do nothing to quell any fears they may have.

Twilight's Xavier Samuel stars as lifeguard Josh, whose life is turned upside down the day after his engagement party when his surfer colleague and fiancee Tina's brother, Rory, is mauled by a shark. Riddled with guilt, the pair split up.

One year later, Josh is working in a supermarket on the coast of Queensland - and his life is turned upside down once again when a robbery takes place in the mall and he finds Tina is one of the robber's hostages.

But that's nothing compared to when the mall is over-run by a tsunami, trapping Josh, the robbers, Tina and a group of others in a potentially watery grave.

Things get even worse when the trapped group finds they're being hunted by a couple of hungry great white sharks....

And so, the fight for survival begins.

Bait 3D is a veritable cheesefest.

It sets its stall out before the titles have even shown on screen and Josh is channelling his very deepest Anakin Skywalker learning that Padme died howl while on a jetski when his colleague Rory is chomped by a shark.

Pretty soon after that, wooden acting, risible dialogue and utterly ludicrous situations unfold (one victim even wears a shark cage suit made from shopping baskets and cans) and you're laughing at the film perhaps a little more than you should. There's very little tension as the shark circles, to be frank, picking off each victim one by one. And there are plot holes a-plenty - like how is the top part of the supermarket flooded but the underground car park not completely underwater? (Apparently, because of two doors...)

The cast are very earnest in their (at times over) acting as well as scenery chewing and the whole thing is ludicrously silly as you'd expect. Sure, there are bits of splatter gore when the sharks chomp in a frenzy but there's little else in between.

There are your stereotypes - a pair of lovers, separated but destined to be together; a father and daughter, whose relationship is strained but will stand the test of a great white bearing down on them; a comic relief couple who are airheads but provide the laughs and a bad guy, who's not actually all bad but just forced into a bad situation and will ultimately come good.

Swirls of blood are the only real flourish for the 3D - everything else is fish swimming at you, a gun pointing out of the screen and a shark jumping in the air. Not exactly challenging or redefining the technical boundaries.

Bait ticks all the boxes for a cheap night out but it's so appallingly done in places, you can't but help be swept along by the risible dialogue, OTT acting and soon to be cult quoted lines.

In essence, Bait is Sharks in a Supermarket - so if you like that idea, (much like Snakes on a Plane) then you know what you're in for. Just don't be surprised, if you find yourself laughing when you shouldn't and rolling your eyes as the terrible plot plays out.

Rating:





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Hobbit release date changes

Hobbit release date changes


Not long now, my preciousses.

Soon, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey will premiere in Wellington - and we've just got word there's been a change of release date for the first part of Sir Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy.

The release has come in this afternoon and states the following:


NEW ZEALAND SETS OUT ON ‘AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY’ A DAY EARLIER
New Zealanders will be amongst the first audiences in the world to see The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, when it releases in NZ cinemas a day earlier than originally scheduled.

The new release date for the film is now Wednesday 12 December 2012.

John Davie, General Manager of Roadshow Films NZ, states “Given the unprecedented level of interest in the film on a local level we are delighted to be one of the first markets in the world to screen the film for audiences, a full day earlier than the traditional Thursday release.”

Midnight screenings launch at 12.01am at select cinemas across the country, with pre-sale tickets for all NZ screenings available for purchase from Wednesday 7 November.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first instalment of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit Trilogy, and will be released in Digital 2D and 3D from Kaitaia to Invercargill, with IMAX also available in Auckland.

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” the first of a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien.

The three films tell a continuous story set in Middle-earth 60 years before “The Lord of the Rings,” which Jackson and his filmmaking team brought to the big screen in the blockbuster trilogy that culminated with the Oscar®-winning “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

The adventure follows the journey of title character Bilbo Baggins, who is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome dragon Smaug. Approached out of the blue by the wizard Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo finds himself joining a company of thirteen dwarves led by the legendary warrior, Thorin Oakenshield. Their journey will take them into the Wild; through treacherous lands swarming with Goblins and Orcs, deadly Wargs and Sorcerers.

Although their goal lies to the East and the wastelands of the Lonely Mountain, first they must escape the goblin tunnels, where Bilbo meets the creature that will change his life forever…Gollum.

Here, alone with Gollum, on the shores of an underground lake, the unassuming Bilbo Baggins not only discovers depths of ingenuity and courage that surprise even him, he also gains possession of Gollum’s “precious” ring that holds unexpected and useful qualities… A simple, gold ring that is tied to the fate of all Middle-earth in ways Bilbo cannot begin to know.

Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, the character he played in “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy, with Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. Also reprising their roles from “The Lord of the Rings” in “The Hobbit” Trilogy are: Cate Blanchett as Galadriel; Ian Holm as the elder Bilbo; Christopher Lee as Saruman; Hugo Weaving as Elrond; Elijah Wood as Frodo; and Andy Serkis as Gollum. The international ensemble cast of the trilogy also includes (in alphabetical order) Manu Bennett, Jed Brophy, Adam Brown, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Peter Hambleton, Barry Humphries, Stephen Hunter, William Kircher, Sylvester McCoy, Bret McKenzie, Graham McTavish, James Nesbitt, Dean O’Gorman, Conan Stevens, Ken Stott and Aidan Turner.

The screenplay for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is by Fran Walsh & Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson & Guillermo del Toro. Jackson is also producing the film, together with Carolynne Cunningham, Zane Weiner and Fran Walsh. The executive producers are Alan Horn, Toby Emmerich, Ken Kamins and Carolyn Blackwood, with Boyens and Eileen Moran serving as co-producers.

Under Jackson’s direction, “The Hobbit” Trilogy is being shot consecutively in digital 3D using the latest camera and stereo technology. Filming is taking place at Stone Street Studios, Wellington, and on location around New Zealand.

Among the creative behind-the-scenes team returning to Jackson’s crew are director of photography Andrew Lesnie, production designer Dan Hennah, conceptual designers Alan Lee and John Howe, composer Howard Shore and make-up and hair designer Peter King. The costumes are designed by Ann Maskrey, Richard Taylor and Bob Buck.

Taylor is also overseeing the design and production of weaponry, armour and prosthetics which are once again being made by the award-winning Weta Workshop. Weta Digital take on the visual effects for the films, led by the film’s visual effects supervisor, Joe Letteri. Post production will take place at Park Road Post Production in Wellington.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and the second and third films of the trilogy are productions of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, with New Line managing production. Warner Bros. Pictures is handling worldwide theatrical distribution, with select international territories as well as all international television licensing being handled by MGM.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
will be released in New Zealand on December 12, 2012, with the second film releasing December 12, 2013, and the third film slated for July 17, 1014.

How to Meet Girls From a Distance: Movie Review

How to Meet Girls From a Distance: Movie Review


Cast: Owen BlackJonathan Brugh, Scarlet Hemingway and Richard Falkner
Director: Dean Hewison, Richard Falkner

Scripted, edited and shot within a few months and made (on paper and in theory) for $100K, How To Meet Girls From a Distance is a minor NZ cinematic miracle. 

The peeping tom rom-com follows Richard Falkner's Toby, a stalker in Wellington whose luck with the ladies is less than impressive. 

So, while receiving coaching from dodgy date expert Carl (an utterly brilliant and scene stealing Jonathan Brugh), Toby ends up meeting Phoebe (Scarlet Hemingway) and falling for her. 

And of course, he does what any normal person would do - follows his heart, takes illicit pictures of her from a distance and stalks her to get to know her better. 

However, there's a stumbling block - Phoebe's with Owen Black's Brad - but for any decent stalker, that's not a problem. And soon, Toby is ingratiating himself into Phoebe's life and heart... 

How To Meet Girls From a Distance deserves to be admired for its turn around and chutzpah - but it also deserves to be admired for what's actually turned up on the screen, as well as making great use of its Wellington location.

Funny, charming and kooky, this piece of celluloid is a commendably good effort from all those involved. Falkner makes Toby endearingly sweet and innocent rather than borderline psychotic and Jonathan Brugh's Carl deserves a place in the pantheon of Kiwi oddball characters as a psychiatrist who helps Toby to meet women  he gets the lion's share of the best moments and is instantly a cult icon. 

A funny script plies on the laughs while never losing sight of the overall plot. Even though there are a few creaks and cracks here there, it still shows a great deal of likeability. From cringe-worthy dancing to dodgy tracheotomies, How To Meet Girls From a Distance is highly amusing, utterly rewarding and a totally unmissable experience which shows creativity comes from the simplest of ideas and the tightest of deadlines.

Rating: 




Arbitrage: Movie Review

Arbitrage: Movie Review


Cast: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Tim Roth, Brit Marling, Laetitia Casta
Director: Nicholas Jarecki

Richard Gere stars as a troubled hedge fund magnate, Robert Miller, in this thriller from first time director Jarecki.

As he turns 60, Miller is the epitome of success - a beautiful home, beautiful family, respected within the business community. But under the public exterior lies a troubled truth - Miller has a mistress, young French art dealer Julie (Casta) and is desperately trying to seal the sale of his company before his fraud is discovered.

But it all goes wrong - a car accident is disastrous for Miller. And his carefully built house of cards threatens to topple over when NYPD Detective Michael Bryer (Tim Roth) comes sniffing around.

Arbitrage is a taut thriller, slickly produced and shot but one which benefits greatly from a searing performance by Gere. He's watchable, and never predictable as the story plays out, preferring to go for a classier approach rather than the sleaze that he clearly is. And it's obvious that Miller has some morals somewhere deep down but chooses just to make the wrong choices as the screws begin to tighten around him.

If Gere's all uptight, subdued swagger then Roth as the detective out to finally bring down one of the rich-erati is his polar opposite. Walking with a slouch and slumping on furniture wherever he can, Roth's shaggy faced detective is a voice for many who feel that Wall Street has got away with too much for far too long. As the cat and mouse game winds up ever closer to the end, you may find your allegiances torn between both sides as each tries to weasel out of their fate.

While Gere and Roth are stand-outs here with characters which are slightly stereotyped, it's the supporting players who also shine; Sarandon is impressive, particularly in one scene with Gere where she finally decides enough is enough. That scene shows masterful touches and subtle nuances which speak volumes about their character's history with each other. Likewise, Another Earth's Brit Marling does well in this as the daughter and chief financier of the company, forced to confront Miller's duplicitous behaviour.

All in all though, it's Gere who should be the main reason for seeing this film - while its story is perhaps the stuff of novels and occasionally predictable mini-series, his performance lifts this cautionary tale that money can't buy you everything out of the ordinary.

Rating:




Star Wars 7 due for release

Star Wars 7 due for release


In news that came out of nowhere, details have been revealed about the release of Star Wars Episode 7.

That's right - I said number 7...

Overnight, it was revealed the Walt Disney company has bought LucasFilm for a whopping $4.05 billion - and that Star Wars Episode VII will be released sometime in 2015.

Episode Seven will continue the story of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Princess Leia beyond Return of the Jedi. Episodes eight and nine will follow the new film, followed by one new movie every two or three years after that.



Here's what George Lucas has to say in a statement:

"For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation tot he next," George Lucas said in a statement."It's now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I've always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime.
"I'm confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney's reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment and consumer products."



The Amazing Spider-Man: Blu Ray Review

The Amazing Spider-Man: Blu Ray Review


Rating: M
Released by Sony Home Entertainment



Andrew Garfield takes on the iconic role of Peter Parker, in this reboot of the franchise.

Abandoned by his parents when he was a young boy, Peter grows up with his Uncle Ben (the ever brilliant Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field). A typical teenage outsider, this Parker is a skateboarder who defends the picked on at school and gets a beating for his troubles.

But it also gets him the attention of Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone, in yet another excellent turn).

Trying to find out what happened to his parents, Peter's awkward quest leads him to Oscorp and the one armed Dr Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans), his father's former partner. Connors' research is into tissue regeneration and when Peter helps with the research, he inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events which will have catastrophic life-changing effects.

The idea of a reboot of the Spider-man series wasn't one which had some fans and movie goers excited. 

Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst had pretty much got it wrapped up with the trilogy of films nearly a decade ago, so there was perhaps some fears as to where a new version of the established story could go.

But clearly, based on this latest, the answer is wherever it wants.

Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are the perfect pair as Spidey and Stacy; they have a sparky, realistic relationship which is grounded, human and benefits from excellent chemistry. There's a playfulness underpinning the usual sadness of this relationship and is a direct result of an early unveiling that Parker is Spider-man. It's a bold creative decision which means this version of Spider-man doesn't wallow or wander into emo territory, preferring to bring a bit of spring into the proceedings. His is also a Peter Parker whose strength is in science, with the web slinging the result of the Spidey intelligence rather than a genetic touch. It's a nice nod to the comics' history and also gives this Spidey a bit more of a vulnerable feel, prone as he is to looking beaten to pieces after the mask's taken off following a fight with Lizard.


If you're being picky about this version of Spider-man, you could argue that the Lizard lets the side down a little in terms of creating a creature that matches some of the other FX work within the film; and his overall plot to take the world isn't anything spectacularly original or cleverly executed. Plus the film's ever so slightly long with some heavy handed cheesy moments towards the end - a scene where workmen line up cranes to help an injured Spidey get to the top of the Oscorp tower is painful in some ways.  However, those are a few minor niggles for a film which delivers good solid action and a strong story which engages the heart as well as the visual senses.

But all in all, The Amazing Spider-man is a stunning take on an established comic book favourite - and manages to put the prior versions in the shade, which is no mean feat.


Extras: Amazing Spider-Man Second Screen App – On disc supporting content, Commentary with Marc Webb, Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach

Rating:

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Fresh Meat: Movie Review

Fresh Meat: Movie Review


Cast: Temuera Morrison, Kate Elliot, Nicola Kawana, Hannah Tevita
Director: Danny Mulheron

You just can't beat this mad butcher's meat.

In the latest horror-come-comedy outing for NZ film, it's off to the kitchen with a dash of exploitation and a pinch of pulp thrown in for good measure.

After a jailbreak from a security van, a gang of criminals end up on the run and in a house owned by Temuera Morrison's associate professor, Hemi and his celeb chef wife, Margaret (Kawana).

However, the family's just got their daughter Rina (Tevita) back from her all-girls school (wink, wink - according to the film) and into the bosom of her meat loving whanau.

But Hemi and Margaret have a secret to share with their daughter - they've discovered the joys of human flesh. And when the crooks crash the dinner party, the family decides it's time they were on the menu.

What can you say about Fresh Meat?

It's probably destined for cult status, with echoes of Tarantino from its slow-mo ultra-violent shoot out at the start, and its sleazy eye on exploitation right from the start as the camera lingers on Rina as she enjoys a shower with one of her fellow school girls.

But to my mind, I don't think it goes far enough and as a result ends up feeling more like a mixed stew than a gourmet meal. It's fairly clear that this occasionally vulgar film's tongue is firmly in its cheek, but by holding back on some of the gore and not going the whole hog, this finger-licking cannibal flick ends up being a bit of a damp squib rather than a full on festival of Kiwi film. Certainly after the initial guts and gore opening, it appears to run a little out of steam as it becomes confined to the hostage house of Hemi and the gang, losing its energy, bite and undeniable fizz.

It's a shame because it's gloriously OTT (and rightly so), mixing in violence, social commentary, some hammy acting (Witness Tem licking his lips salaciously when he spies one of the criminals' wound) and some solid performances. Elliott and Tevita have good solid meaty roles and show some acting chops. Tevita, in particular, gives us a great in and emotional centre as the decidedly non-PC action plays out.

Morrison's fine, offering up some good one-liners and acerbic comments, but his final ascent into insanity goes too OTT - and his final shot appearance hints at the hamminess and cult potential this film has.

Overall, Fresh Meat isn't bad - deliberately trashy, tasteless and unPC but just a little hamstrung by its own constraints. If it had had a little more  punch to be seasoned in with its black humour, knowing winks to Maori life and horror credentials, it could have been a real entry into the Kiwi cult cinema canon.

Rating:



Show Me Shorts finalists nominees revealed

Show Me Shorts finalists nominees revealed


This just in...

The nominees for the 7th annual Show Me Shorts Film Festival are in! Fourteen films have been nominated in nine award categories.  Notably, ‘Night Shift’ by Zia Mandviwalla received nominations in five award categories; ‘Tatau’ by Chantelle Burgoyne and ‘Lambs’ by Sam Kelly each received four nominations; and ‘43,000 Feet’ by Campbell Hooper received two nominations.


The winners will be announced at the Opening Night in Auckland on Thursday 1st November. The 2012 prize pool is valued at over $20,000, with the winner of the top award for Best Film taking away $5,000 in film equipment rental from Rubber Monkey Rentals, 6x 400ft of Kodak film stock, subscriptions to Screen Hub, StarNow.com and Setkick’s online production management tool, plus a one year membership to SDGNZ for the Editor and Director.

Two short films from Australia and one from Switzerland have been nominated for Best International Film. Australian film, ‘The Wilding’, is produced by previous Show Me Shorts Best Film award winner Jannine Barnes.

Three dramatic Kiwi shorts are in contention for the coveted Best Film award: ‘Lambs’, ‘Tatau’ and ‘Night Shift’. Last year’s Best Film award was won by Jack Woon for his dreamy drama about awkward teenage love: ‘The Great Barrier’.

There are still some tickets for the Auckland Opening Night and Awards Ceremony available to the public but these are selling fast from Capitol Cinemas (reservations on 09 623 2000). The Show Me Shorts Opening Nights include screenings of the winning films, and are the only chance to see all of these films screened together. A Wellington Opening Night event will follow at Paramount on Thursday, November 8th.

The judges for 2012 are actor Rene Naufahu (‘No.2’, ‘The Market’, ‘Russian Snark’), props and prosthetics designer Roger Murray (‘Evil Dead’, ‘Spartacus’, ‘Narnia Chronicles’) and director Paul Campion (‘The Devils Rock’, ‘Eel Girl’). Naufahu was impressed with “the willingness of the assembled teams to take risk, to lead with the heart, to be brave; without compromise of technique in all areas - photography, editing, script-writing, acting - regardless of budget, location or material.”

The nominated films can be found scattered throughout the six different sessions of Show Me Shorts 2012 programme, each featuring about seven short films grouped together around a common theme: Explorers, Comedy Corner, Love & Other Catastrophes, My Hero, Nerd’s Revenge and Unrestricted Access. The full programme of 40 short films this year showcases a wide variety of fiction and documentaryshorts. Themes of family ties and new relationships feature alongside dumpster diving and synchronised cycling. The international films on offer tell tales of sheep stealing, the de-winging of angels and time travel, not to mention stories on love… for gravediggers, zombies and juvenile delinquents.

Judge Rene Naufahu describes the Show Me Shorts films that had the biggest impact on him as “inescapable, claustrophobic, unpredictable, urgent and other-worldly yet at the same time liberating, a huge breath of fresh air, slow-burning and (best of all!) on our doorstep”. 

The seventh annual SHOW ME SHORTS Film Festival will screen in 12 cinemas around New Zealand, commencing 1 November. The full programme is at www.showmeshorts.co.nz.


Here is the full list of 2012 nominees:

SHOW ME SHORTS BEST FILM
Tom Hern for ‘Lambs’
Zanna Gillespie, Graeme E. Bibby & Chantelle Burgoyne for ‘Tatau’
Matt Noonan & Chelsea Winstanley for ‘Night Shift’

PANAVISION BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Andrew Stroud for ‘43,000 Feet’
Ari Wegner for ‘Night Shift’
Denson Baker for ‘Lambs’

BEST STUDENT FILM
UNITEC for ‘This is Libby’
Zanna Gillespie, Graeme E. Bibby & Chantelle Burgoyne for ‘Tatau’
Lauren Eisinger & Katherine France for ‘Kia Kaha’

STARNOW BEST ACTOR
Waka Rowlands for his role in ‘Lambs’                  
Anapela Polataivao for her role in ‘Night Shift’                      
Fynn Ellison for his role in ‘Ollie’    

SCRIPT TO SCREEN BEST SCREENPLAY
Zia Mandviwalla for ‘Night Shift’
Matthew Harris for ‘43,000 Feet’
Lucy Zee for ‘This is Libby’

SDGNZ BEST DIRECTOR
Zia Mandviwalla for ‘Night Shift’
Sam Kelly for ‘Lambs’
Chantelle Burgoyne for ‘Tatau’

SDGNZ BEST EDITOR
Chantelle Burgoyne for ‘Tatau’
Jeff Hurrell for ‘Lambs’
Dan Jarman for ‘The F.E.U.C’

BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM
Jannine Barnes for ‘The Wilding’
Maya Zibung Jones for ‘Parallel’
Asuka Sylvie for ‘Pinion’

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
Richard Mans’ technical accomplishment for ‘Abiogenesis’.
The cast and crew of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ for community filmmaking.
Yaser Naser for the VFX on ‘50% off Mail Order Bride’.
(Also a special mention to Andrew Long’s End Credits on 50% off Mail Order Bride)

The Deep Blue Sea: DVD Review

The Deep Blue Sea: DVD Review


Rating: M
Released by Universal Home Entertainment


In a repressed world just out of the Second World War and in a flat in a boarding house, Hester Collyer (Rachel Weisz) is on the edge of desperation. As she puts a towel under the door to block it and turns the gas fire on full, it's clear what she intends to do.

But her suicide attempt is unsuccessful and suddenly through a series of flashbacks and current events, the ramifications of what she's tried to do and what's led her to that point are gradually revealed.

The Deep Blue Sea is a terrifically stifled and repressed film - the whole thing reeks of claustrophobia and desperation as flashbacks reveal the reasons for Hester's despair. Trapped in a loveless marriage to a British High Court Judge (Simon Russell Beale) who adores her but is older and clearly aware this is a society marriage, it's obvious that Hester will fall for fly boy Freddie (a brilliant Tom Hiddleston) and find her passion reignited.


However, it's a tragedy that the passion cools for Hester and Freddie because of his post traumatic stress disorder and his (understandable) comfort in living in the past.

As the threads start to tie together, you begin to realise that there's only really been two actors on screen for the duration of this and that the intensity of their performance is intoxicating. Hiddleston is initially all "chocks away" and flyboy bravado, but the bitter frustrations of a repressed age from long ago push his performance more into the slightly monstrous whilst still managing to keep you engaged.


The Deep Blue Sea isn't exactly a joyous film which will leave you feeling a fuzzy after glow as it ends; but with some great performances from Weisz and Hiddleston, it becomes the kind of film that gets under your skin.

Extras: None

Rating:

Avatar 3D: Blu Ray Review

Avatar 3D: Blu Ray Review


Rating: M
Released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Once more back into the world of Pandora for the 3D TV release of the film which was one of the biggest ever.

In case you've been living under a rock, Sam Worthington stars as crippled marine Jake Sully, who finds himself on the world of Pandora and thrust into the middle of a battle between the blue skinned natives and the colonists looking for a mineral called Raritanium.

It's the age old tale of redemption, discovery and love as the fight for the civilisation goes on and to be honest, you're either on board with this story and all its faults - or you're completely put off by the cliched writing, terrible dialogue and lack of distinct originality.

To be frank though, Avatar for me was never about the story - it was always about the visuals and the look of it and this latest release does much to boost that once again by embracing the technology currently on offer in the market place.

It's a relatively light package in terms of the extras (ie none) and is really more about launching the film into the 3D TV waters - so you've been warned if you don't have the technology, you may want to wait a little.

Extras: 3D version of the film, 2D version

Rating:



Brand new Wolverine poster

Brand new Wolverine poster


Exciting news for fans of The Wolverine film, starring Hugh Jackman.

There's been a live chat today with Hugh Jackman and James Mangold about the upcoming film, The Wolverine.

And at the end of the chat, a new poster for The Wolverine film was revealed...

Badassdigest has it first - and here's a look at it below.




Monday, 29 October 2012

The Unfinished Swan: PS3 Game Review

The Unfinished Swan: PS3 Game Review


Released by Sony Home Computer Entertainment
Platform: PS3 via PSN

I have to say I am loving the creativity demonstrated by downloadable titles on the PSN.

Earlier this year, I was completely blown away by the haunting sights and sounds of Journey on the PS3, and now, The Unfinished Swan arrives heralding its creativity in a loud hailer and offering up signs that artistic vision and points of difference are in no way in danger of running short.

Basically, the story begins in the style of children's story book. You are Monroe, a boy whose mother loved to paint but whose artistic visions never allowed her to finish any of them. So, when she died, Monroe was taken into an orphanage but allowed to keep one of his mother's 300-plus paintings. He chooses a favourite, the Unfinished Swan, which was also his mother's fave too.

One day, Monroe discovers that the swan has escaped from the painting and, realising how much it meant to his mother, he sets out to retrieve it.

And if you think that's surreal, wait till the game begins.

From a first person perspective, you are faced with a world of sheer white; a screen of sleek colourlessness stretches before you. That is until you realise that by pressing the R1 button, or using the PS Move, you can launch giant globules of black into the murky world beyond and begin to see the world in front of you take shape as well as navigate your way around this bizarre world.

Firing globs of paint works for the first few levels and then you begin to use water bombs to help see your way - and it's here that the story takes a deeper twist - as you begin to see what the King did while he ruled the land Monroe finds himself in - it's a magical world so think giants, vines and mazes and you'd be on the right track. Each level has pages of a storybook within which you have to find and these help to paint the story as it clears literally in front of your eyes. Plus collecting balloons from around the world give you the chance to boost your paint/ water hurling powers - as well as other bits and bobs

The game designers here have created a world which is like a children's storybook but is also beautifully portrayed and hauntingly evocative - as you launch paint blobs and water bombs, you get to see parts of it unfurl in front of you like a slightly unfinished painting. It's wonderfully evocative as any art lover will tell you and it certainly adds to a unique vision on the screen. With voice work from Terry Gilliam as well as the king, it's definitely something different.

All in all, The Unfinished Swan shows a level of imagination and sophistication, mixed in with simplicity and innocence. It's an intriguing title and while not overly long (as many of these creative ones can be), it's certainly likely to engross you from the moment it begins - although I can't help but wish the game had been a little longer.

Rating:


Dishonored: PS3 Game Review

Dishonored: PS3 Game Review


Released by Bethesda
Platform: PS3

Revenge has never been so stealthy.

In the latest first person game to hit the console, you take control of Corvo, who lives in the district of Dunwall, and is a disgraced former royal bodyguard, who's accused of the murder of the Empress and banged up in jail.

That's when you join the action, trapped behind bars and facing the chop unless you can escape.

But using a combination of stealthy, swarthy hiding in the shadows and killing/ knocking out where necessary, Corvo can escape the jails and start to try and find those responsible for killing the Empress and making off with her daughter.

And this is where Dishonored really starts to get interesting - because, once you've escaped the jails, rabid rats and multiple attempts to take you down, you get a chance to flex some supernatural muscles and use newly acquired powers for breaking into the conspiracy and trying to solve what exactly is going on.

Dishonored is a thrilling one player game; one which is deeply engrossing and totally addictive.

As the game pans out and the scope of it starts to expand, you realise there are different ways to complete each part of what's ahead - as an assassin, you can kill, maim or silently take down your enemies in a lethal - or non-lethal way. Levels are about discovering more of the conspiracy and taking out those who are behind it - as well as discovering, thieving and finding runes to boost your supernatural powers.

But here's the thing with Dishonored - as with InFamous before it - your choices have consequences; every action has an influence down the track and if you decide to go the good route, you'll find a different ending; but an evil route, where you slaughter everything around you, will present you with an alternative outcome. That's the smart move of the developers of this title - you have to be true to what you want to achieve - and it means that you can replay the title as well, encouraging repeat gaming is always the sign of a wise developer.

The look and feel of Dishonored is incredible - from the sewers of Dunwall to the dream worlds where you first get to check out your new powers, to good solid cut scenes, there's plenty to engage in this deeply atmospheric title right from the very beginning. Scratch the surface of the game and you're instantly addicted, thanks to the wide variety of what's on offer and the multiple ways it can be completed.

Every once in a while, a game comes along which is so involving, gets everything right and proves to be a deeply rewarding experience. Dishonored is one of those games - and you really need to have it in your collection if you're remotely serious about gaming.

Rating:




Sunday, 28 October 2012

ATM: DVD Review

ATM: DVD Review


Rating: M
Released by Roadshow Home Entertainment

A horror film, with a fairly simple premise, ATM is a rip your hair out with frustration kind of ride as opposed to edge of the seat tension.

David, Emily and Corey are three friends at a work party at Christmas time; David's got designs on Emily (played by Alice Eve) and they leave for the night. Heading back the group head to an ATM Booth to get some money - and that's when the terror starts as a hooded figure begins to terrorise them, locking them in the booth and thwarting their plans to escape....

ATM is a frustrating film, and one that you should be grateful is mercifully short.

Full of the obligatory jumpy moments and lack of any real coherence, if you like horror and are willing to forgive the gaping holes (like why they don't just run away) then maybe you'll find something to watch and enjoy.

Everyone else will find it predictable, annoying and despite its initial clever premise, descends into every stereotyped horror film cliche you'd expect.

Rating:



New Wolverine pic discovered

New Wolverine pic discovered


Empire's done it again.

A brand new exclusive picture's emerged of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine on Empire Online.

It is apparently a flashback shot of The Wolverine from James Mangold's latest film, which has been filming in Sydney. It's believed the film takes Logan aka Wolverine to Japan as well.

Take a look below:


Piranha 3DD: Blu Ray Review

Piranha 3DD: Blu Ray Review


Rating: M
Released by Roadshow Home Entertainment

Stop, the search is over - I've found the worst film of the year.

Piranha 3DD is the sequel to Piranha, which in itself was no masterpiece but had a certain charm.

In the first film, the residents of Lake Victoria were terrorised by hungry little fish, desperate to chow down on human flesh after lying dormant for millions of years.

This time, the "action" relocates to a waterpark called The Big Wet, which promises such high faluting entertainment as the Adult Pool, where its nubile and pneumatic residents need not bother with clothes or worry about their privacy being invaded by pervs - thanks to underwater cameras.

When the first signs of the fish start to strike again, the powers that be ignore all the warnings and the inevitable carnage materialises....

Mercifully short at a touch over 1 hour, this base and vulgar film is nothing nearing any form of class. Gratuitous nudity, lots of slow mo shots of girls in bikinis and various other exploitative moments make up the majority of this film which boasts hammy cameos from Christopher Lloyd, Gary Busey and the Hoff.

Any film which starts with an exploding cow and sees one person beheaded and their head land squarely in ample bosoms isn't aiming high - and thankfully, Piranha 3DD hits all of its targets.

Extras: Deleted scenes

Rating:



Saturday, 27 October 2012

Skyfall Movie Review

Skyfall Movie Review


Well, sort of.

We don't get to see the new Bond film Skyfall until early November in New Zealand, but fresh off the phone this morning, here's a review of Bond: Skyfall from one of the first screenings in the UK.

Skyfall of course, stars Daniel Craig as James Bond and Judi Dench as M.

This is a review from a dyed in the wool Bond fan, who had his ticket booked for a while. No spoilers ahoy, just the Bond fan viewpoint of a Bond: Skyfall: Movie Review.


It is Bond, but not in any way as you may know it!

Skyfall is a gutsy film, with, unlike some of the previous Bond films, a great plot that you can really get behind  and follow every step of the way.
It has got all those special moments in it that you are looking for in a Bond movie, plus so much more. This film would stand up on its own without the reputation of Bond behind it.
The opening sequence is back to good old Bond with a fantastic chase sequence that leads into the opening title sequence with the very fitting Adele track to accompany the traditional graphics.
The film has some great scenes in it with some wonderful colours and images, it is really shot well, it looks such a grown up film.
The cinema I went to see it in did not have the best sound ever, so I think I have just found an excuse to have to go and see it again, but really, I didn’t need an excuse!

Homeland Series One: DVD Review

Homeland Series One: DVD Review


Rating: M
Released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

It swept the Emmys this year and quite rightly so.

The drama starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis is one of the most taut thrillers I've seen for a while - and despite only being 12 episodes long, it's highly compelling and addictive.

Still, what would you expect from the makers of 24?

Lewis stars as Brody, a US Marine held captive by al-Qaeda - and Danes plays the CIA Agent Carrie Mathison, who believes Brody was turned by the terrorists and now he was rescued, poses a clear and present danger to the USA.

Warned in Iraq that Brody was a traitor,Mathison launches a quest to bring him down - but here's the kicker - she's potentially on shaky mental ground, causing you to question whether she's right at all....

Homeland is a thrilling ride, a taut piece of psychological drama which plays out well thanks to excellent performances from Danes and Lewis. It's an engrossing piece with some impressive supporting turns from the likes of Morena Baccarin, David Harewood and Mandy Patinkin.

Season 2 is currently playing - and the show's swept a slew of awards, so it really is a great time to jump on in and see what the fuss is about - you won't regret it.

Extras: Docos, behind the scenes, a solid bunch

Rating:



What to Expect When You're Expecting: DVD Review

What to Expect When You're Expecting: DVD Review


Rating: M
Released by Roadshow Home Ent

It's the story of five Atlanta couples who're in various stages of life but with babies on the mind - either accidentally or deliberately.


There's Cameron Diaz's fitness expert Jules, who's secretly sleeping with Matthew Morrison's Evan as they dance their way around a celebrity dance show; there's J-Lo's Holly, a photographer who's about to adopt an African baby with scared silly father to be Alex (Santoro); there's Elizabeth Banks' Wendy, an expert on babies and motherhood who's been unable to conceive despite trying with her hubbie Gary (Ben Falcone) and there's his competitive father Ramsey, who's about to give birth with his young trophy wife (and Wendy's nemesis) Skyler (Decker). Throw into that mix, youngster Rosie (Kendrick) who finds herself pregnant after a one night stand with Chace Crawford's Marco and the baby mix is complete.

But, as ever in life there are trials and tribulations ahead - some of them good, some of them bad.

You should know what to expect with What To Expect When You're Expecting; essentially, it's another one of those relatively asinine, bland Hollywood ensembles which pitches at all demographics and pulls in all kinds of big names.

While it's exactly what you'd think they'd conceive for this kind of film and may have you wishing it'd gestated for another 9 months or so, there are some parts which will appeal to those wanting a film which is cheesy as and predictable.


Firstly, the Dudes Group, which proffers up a male point of view courtesy of Chris Rock and a trio of other dads, is actually funny and amusing. Along with a kid from the group which is accident prone, there's some laughs to be had. There'll probably be some men in the audience who'll be nodding their heads in agreement with their situations - if they're unfortunate enough to be dragged along to this.

Secondly, the cast is all relatively talented and brings a reasonable performance to the table; but especially watchable is Elizabeth Banks' character who, while going through an entirely predictable character arc as she becomes a mess of pregnancy hormones, manages to light up the screen with her turn.

The problem with What To Expect When You're Expecting is, I suspect,  more one of managing your own expectations.

If you want to see a film where life's problems are brought up and then summarily dismissed in a montage of moments or a quick trite solution then this is the film for you; it espouses such life lessons as "Pregnancy's not as dreamy as you've always imagined it to be" and "Becoming a parent can be quite scary, but is ultimately worth it" as it saunters on its way through a formula to its inevitably sentimental end.


Extras: What to expect and the pregnancy bible

Rating:

Friday, 26 October 2012

Prometheus: Blu Ray Review

Prometheus: Blu Ray Review


Rating: M
Released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

One of the most anticipated films of the year, Prometheus was weighed down by expectation before it released - mainly thanks to a marketing campaign which was so successful.

Prometheus stars Noomi Rapace as Dr Elizabeth Shaw, one of the 17 strong crew of the ship Prometheus, which is on the way to the outer reaches of the stars to discover the potential interstellar origins of life on earth.

When the planet believed to be the start of life on earth is reached, the crew is awoken by synthetic human David (played with aloof brilliance by Michael Fassbender) and set out to explore the world of LV-223.
However, what they discover is devastating in more ways than one - and soon, the crew of the Prometheus is in a fight to the death....

Prometheus
the film still remains a frustrating watch - from its brilliant opening scenes which promise such mystery and scope to the disappointing final shot, it's a film which both thrills and enthralls as well as frustrates and avoids hitting the mark.

It's perhaps, just not as frightening or terrifying as it should have been as it leaps around from sequence to sequence. Sure, it's occasionally nervy watching as it descends into B movie body horror and frights (one scene where Shaw's forced to undergo an emergency piece of surgery is as tense, scary and horrific as anything in the original run of films) but there's less tension in the second half of the film which can't match the heightened anticipation of the opening with the Engineers.

But the big reason to buy this current set (aside from the HD conversion) is the wealth of Prometheus Blu Ray extras.

With over 7 hours of content, there's plenty of reasons to watch on and explore the universe of Prometheus. From a commentary with Ridley Scott and Damon Lindelof, a lot of answers are offered up and with the doco entitled "Questions Will Be Answered", there will be plenty of fans who will want to know more - and these will satiate many. 

Other extras include The Peter Weyland files, deleted and alternate scenes, including an opening and ending which are different, there's more than enough here to justify expanding the release. 

Ultimately, Prometheus looks stunning in HD and with the bulked up extras (a great reason to buy), it's certainly an impressive release for a film which has divided so many this year.

Rating:


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Hobbit run time revealed - and new images

Hobbit run time revealed - and new images


Not long to go now, until the world premiere of The Hobbit in Wellington.

Plus more, news is leaking out about the film.

Empire Magazine's just unleashed five new Hobbit images with a series of collector's covers as well as revealing some juicy information about the film.

Including the running time of The Hobbit.

The Hobbit is expected to run for 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Here's what Sir Peter Jackson has to say about it:


“It’s looking like it’s going to be about ten minutes shorter than Fellowship was," explains Jackson. "So it’s going to be officially our shortest Middle-earth yet. I mean, Fellowship was just under three hours and this is about 2 hours 40 minutes at the moment.”

Here are the five new Hobbit images:








Evil Dead trailer arrives

Evil Dead trailer arrives


If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a real treat.

Here's the first look at Evil Dead remake (they've even dropped the The).

Produced by Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi, the remake of iconic horror The Evil Dead is due to launch next year.

Evil Dead is directed by Fede Alvarez and stars Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandeez and Jessica Lucas


Wednesday, 24 October 2012

New Assassins Creed III content

New Assassins Creed III content


It's not long now till the release of Assassin's Creed III - and we've got some new trailers to show you.

First up, the story trailer for Assassin's Creed III Liberation hitting PS Vita at the end of October:




Next up, the Assassin's Creed III launch trailer.

That hits PS3 and Xbox from October 31st.

Mental: Movie Review

Mental: Movie Review


Cast: Toni Collette, Rebecca Gibney, Anthony LaPaglia, Liev Schreiber, Kerry Fox, Deborah Mailman
Director: PJ Hogan

The latest Aussie outing sees Packed to the Rafters star Rebecca Gibney looking almost unrecognisable as a matriarch of a family falling apart.

Gibney plays Shirley Moochmore, who dreams of a life as the head of the Von Trapp family and who we first see singing the Sound of Music much to the horror of her five daughters. Shirley's hubbie Barry, the wannabe re-elected mayor, is a bit of a rascal, cheating on her, never home for family meals and forgetting all of the kids' names.

So it's no wonder that our Shirl has a breakdown and is carted off to the local looney bin - or "on holiday in Woollongong" to avoid embarrassment.

However, Barry's forced home when he realises how troubled his daughters are; one's already tried to commit suicide, the others are unpopular and one's borderline schizophrenic...things don't look good for the Moochmores. In fact, Coral, who tried to kill herself, is the main reason Barry stays away, unable to face what they call "The Disgrace."

That's when a hard smoking, straight talking Shaz (Toni Collette) shows up in their lives (well, after Barry picks her up from the side of the road) - and turns them all upside down, making them believe in themselves and that being different is nothing to be frightened or ashamed of.

But Shaz isn't exactly being completely honest with the Moochmores - in fact, she's got as much baggage as the rest of them....

Mental is an intriguing film - and certainly one which is aiming to upend the usual attitudes to mental health.

Crazy opening scenes set the tone - the mum's in the yard, singing that The Hills are Alive with the Sound of music, while the daughters are inside, cringing at her embarrassing behaviour. However, when Shirley's carted off to a mental institution for a breakdown, it's down to a bit more of a drama as drifter Shaz shows up.

Which is a real shame - because while it cocks a snook at suburban uptight attitudes and opinions, it's that spark of total bizarreness which is much needed throughout. After all, any film which ends with someone lighting a fart and setting fire to a room full of dolls is clearly hoping to achieve some kind of randomness.

Throw in a good cast of calibre - LaPaglia as a cheating husband, Schreiber as a croc hunter with a grizzly edge, and the Sapphires Deborah Mailman as a lusty lesbian and you've got quite the ensemble.

In amongst all that, while Collette is all energy and kook with heart as the nanny who shows up, the story is determined to give her a tragic past, which torpedoes any of the levity that Hogan's brought to the screen.

Mental isn't a bad film - it's just one that's a mismatch of various tones and ideas and consequently doesn't really achieve any overall final feeling. If you're after another Muriel's Wedding, you'll be highly disappointed.

Rating: