Friday, 31 December 2010

Tron: Legacy

More than just binary....

20 years after the disappearance of his father, Sam Flynn (Garrett Hedlund) receives a message from his father's rundown arcade. Upon investigating, Sam stumbles upon a secret room in which he is transported to the virtual domain of The Grid.

It has been many years since the original Tron was released and the sequel plays on this by having a narrative that addresses the very absence of a followup to Tron ,very much like the protagonist Sam has to deal with the mysterious disappearance of his father. In this sense, the audience is very much like Sam as Tron Legacy is clearly designed to appeal to a new generation of moviegoers. This does come with its own set of problem, namely that the story fails to utilize the computer programing jargon which made the original so interesting. Programming is touched upon at times, but it almost feels as if the writer's felt it may complicate the story unnecessarily. While this may be possible, it does not stop the fact that specified jargon would have created a far more convincing context for the plot, as well as create some needed depth to the themes which are presented. It is a pity because Tron Legacy has the potential for deeper discussion but it rarely presents the opportunity for such an endeavour.

Thankfully, the linear narrative is helped by an enthusiastic cast. Oscar potential is not on the agenda, but the actors are definitely watchable. The respective characters portrayed by Hedlund, Jeff Bridges and Olivia Wilde, who which the story revolves, are is likable in their ambition. Sam is a rebel who is wayward by his father's absence while Flynn yearns for nothing more but to see his son again. It is a compelling side story which brings about emotional response from both character, but unfortunately never ever convincing enough. Bridges also sports the chance to play Clu, the digital representation of Flynn. This is intriguing as ti allows Bridge's to also play a smug villain who is very different to that of Flynn. It is, however, disappointing to find Tron himself pretty much absent from the film considering how important he was in aiding against the MCP of the original film. Bruce Boxleitner gets some screen-time but it would have been nice for him to get some more.

Either way, the visual and audio of the film are an absolute treat. There are some stunning uses of CGI and special effects that create an impressive visual design, such as the modeling of a younger Bridges and the stark contrast between dark and light create an almost monochromatic feel. It should also be said that the use of 3D is amazingly effective, especially when helping differentiating the real world to that of The Grid. The musical score was composed by Daft Punk: their upbeat characteristic really aids the film's overall tempo allowing action sequences to feel more intense and any slow moments to be almost forgotten.

There are some sexualised women represented with tight bodysuits and profanity is hardly even mild. The film is action orientated but death sequences result in character deconstructing considering they are computer coding rather then physical beings.

Tron Legacy ends 2010 on a high note. While it lacks the ambitious nature of the original story and with acting that is not always entirely effective, Tron Legacy is nevertheless an absolute feast for the eyes and ears. The film's minor shortcomings are just that as Tron Legacy overclocks itself in presenting an entertaining experience.


Screen date: 31 December 2010
Release date: 31 December 2010

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Liefling, die Movie

Bottled ambition...

December vacation proves a bounteous time for students as they leave all the worries of work and education in favour of relaxation. One such student, Jan (Bobby van Jaarsveld0 discovers that this holiday period is a life changing event when he meets Liefling Marais (Like Berning), the daughter of his professor. Jan is instantly intrigued by Liefling and begins to court her, unaware that Melanie (Marlee van der Merwe) has her eyes on him.

Modern Afrikaans cinema is generally divided into two categories: the more conservative dramas that provide an expose on Afrikaans culture and the liberal comedies that are fairly risque in nature. Liefling, die Movie tries a different approach as a musical, as it attempts to balance both traditional Afrikanerdom while appealing to the youth. The story is lighthearted and easy to follow, but it wavers with poor development, both in terms of the narrative and characters. Characters are never built up beyond stereotypes, though they are given an alternate perspective to help build some depth, and any development they do have is entirely rushed. This impacts on the story as it becomes difficult to appreciate the relationship between Jan and Liefling as ti is glazed over: the film tries to imbue the characters with a Romeo and Juliet sense of intellectual and instantaneous love but it never really clicks until much further in the film. Their are secondary love stories taking place simultaneously, though they are predictable and unnecessarily take away screentime from the couple that matters.

The acting is, on a whole, a stronger quality of the film, but not by much. Primary characters have enough zest for you to care about them while secondary characters merely enjoy themselves instead of really gelling with the material. This is not entirely problematic as the casual nature of the acting does go hand-in-hand with the carefree atmosphere provided. It is difficult to pick out individuals as no one really outshines anyone else. That said, where Bobby and Lika lack in experience, they make up for in energy.

As expected of a South African film of this kind the film quality is lacking. It is factor that can be overlooked but this does not stop some strange choreography choices. There is the odd scene among every few songs which comes across as downright silly in comparison with the rest due to lazy editing and poor choreography. Thankfully, this occurs only occasionally as the remainder of the film is filled with musical segments, though they are lacking in passion when compared to the likes of High School Musical or Phantom of the Opera.

While this may seem strange to say, there is just too many musical numbers and very little downtime between them. At many intervals a handful of songs will be packed right next to one another with little context connecting them. In fact, there is such an urgency to cramming the film with songs many scenes which should include basic dialogue become musical. One such scene revolves around Liefling being awaken by her mother just for her to break into song about how she wishes to have a husband and that only an Afrikaner man will do. Yes, it ends on a humourous note, but it shows the inability of the filmmakers to strengthen the music with some normative dialogue sequences.

While more conservative than liberal, Liefling, die Movie is pretty much void of any objectionable content.

Liefling, die Movie is an intriguing avenue of exploration for Afrikaans films in a commercial sense for the entire South African audiences. One need not be Afrikaans to appreciate the simple story and music presented, but the film is not without some glaring issues which hold it back. The accumulation of too much music is the biggest culprit which effects the rest of the issues: characters are underdeveloped fail to accompany the lighthearted story into something more. That said, Liefling, die Movie is by no means a poor film, but one which is drowned in the overzealous enthusiasm of its creators.


Screen date: 21 November 2010
Release date: 19 November 2010

(Movie poster provided by iGeek)

Thursday, 16 September 2010

TGS 2010: Sony Conference Overview


3D support:
-Disaster 4: Summer Memories, Everybody's Golf, Final Fantasy 14, Gran Turismo 5, Metal Gear Solid Rising

Ape Escape Fury! Fury!:
- anime cutscenes.

Dynasty Warriors 7
- Developed only for PS3.

Firmware 3.5:
-3D bluray support.
-21 September.

Gran Turismo 5:
-My Home service: accessible from web and a hub for accessing messages, albums, friends list.
-Weather effects: rain and snow shown.
-Night time racing.
-X1 Prototype vehicle in game.

Gundam Musou 3:
-Cel shaded art style.
-December release for Japan.

Ico/ Shadow of the Colossus:
-HD Port for PS3.

Ni no Kuni:
-2011 release in Japan.
-No assets used from DS version of game.

Project Dark:
-Developed by From Software.
-Design philosophy similar to Demon's Souls.
-2011 release.
-PS3 exclusive.

The Last Guardian:
-2011 release.

Yakuza: Of the End:
-Fight Zombies.

-21 October release in Japan.


Playstation Portable

3rd Birthday:
-Possible vehicle and turret sequences included

Cardboard Warmachines:
-Anime sequences, cross media with an anime version.

Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy:
-Spring 2011 in Japan.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep Final Mix:
-January release in Japan.

23 December release in Japan.

Monster Hunter:
-Special bundle for release of Monster Hunter 3rd.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

The King of Fighters

Ready? Not quite...

The King of Fighters tournament is one in which participating members are transported to an alternate dimension to engage in a fight. This is made possible due to three ancient artifacts that allow this dimension to exist. The members come under threat when Rugal (Ray Park), a previous member of the tournament, steals the artifacts and begins to manipulate the other dimension to his own liking so as to kill anyone who enters it. It is left to Mai (Maggie Q) and Iori (Will Yun Lee) must enlist the help of Kyo (Sean Farris) to defeat Rugal before too many lives are lost.

The film adaptation of The King of Fighters loosely follows that of the original King of Fighters '94, with some elements from '95, in which Rugal starts the tournament so as to get some excitement into his life. The most notable difference in the adaptation is that the tournament is already established and also that the fighters need to be in an alternate dimension in order to fight in a way which resemble the original game. The science fiction-esque twist on the narrative makes for an intriguing story but the films never really explores the concept. The story is fashioned in a linear manner, with the odd reference to past sequences to help explain certain information. Unfortunately, the plot is fairly thin: it presents opportunities for further development but these avenues are never fully explored.

The acting quality is not exactly great but this is somewhat understandable considering the cast. That said, no actor ever falls prey to evidently poor acting and with more depth to the script a better acting prowess could have been shown. Actors generally take their roles seriously: Park seems to enjoy the eccentric nature of being a villain while the likes of Maggie Q, Lee and Faris portray the motives of their respective characters adequately enough.

The overall filming quality suggests that the film-makers had a low budget to work with. The King of Fighters appears to be filmed more like a television show then an actual movie but that does not stop some fairly enjoyable action sequences, yet these only become common in the latter half. CG becomes present mainly towards the end and looks low-key but nonetheless workable.

Beyond the makings of a possible girl-on-girl scene, there is no nudity or sexual content present. Language is tame and infrequent while violence is frequent throughout the film without ever being gory or bloody.

There is no doubt that The King of Fighters is a missed opportunity. With some obvious reworking to the script and story, and a better budget, the film could easily have been a more commendable entry for videogame-to-cinema adaptations. What really needed to happen was the fleshing out of the characters and the overall narrative to create a more cohesive product. That said the story, actors, and some decent action scenes, are adequate enough to carry The King of Fighters to its conclusion and miss a definitive K.O.


Screen date: 13 August 2010
Release date: 13 August 2010

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

GC 2010: Sony Conference Overview


Gran Turismo 5:
- November 3 official launch date for SCEE region.

Infamous 2:
-Cole model revised back to original.

Killzone 3:
-Mech suits.

LittleBigPlanet 2:
- Story trailer revealed.

-PS Move support.

Medal of Honor:
-MOH Frontline exclusive to PS3.

Mortal Kombat 9:
-3D support.

Play TV Live:
- Community features such as chat, text chat during programmes, and programme recommendations.

Ratchet and Clank All 4 One
-Fall 2011 release; 4 player drop-in-drop-out co-op.

Resistance 3
-2011 release.

- Supports PS move.

Virtua Tennis 4:
- Supports PS move; 3D support.

New SKUs:
- 320 gb PS3 with Move starter pack (349 euro), and 160gb (299).



Catch up TV:
-6 new channels, including ITV, Animax and Yahoo.

-Film streaming; PPV and subscription options; 18 countries availability on launch.



PS3 Sales:
- 38 million.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Nothing Personal

Too detached ...

After finding herself alone and detached from society, an unnamed woman (Lotte Verbeek), backpacks through Ireland seemingly wanting to lead a solitary existence. With no more than the clothes she has on her back and some utensils like a small tent, the woman discovers an isolated house belonging to Martin (Stephen Rea) who also appears to be living his life alone.

Nothing Personal tells an intriguing story of loneliness and this becomes quite apparent due to the less than normal use of dialogue, minimal use of accompanying music, controlled camera shots and the muted colour scheme which fills every scene. All of these traits slowly increase as the film continues, and from a visual and audio manner it is great to see the relationship between the woman and Martin develops. The narrative uses a linear flow but it becomes quite a shame that it is broken into noticeable chapters: each chapter begins with a black screen and a word, such as 'marriage'. Beyond hurting the flow of the film these wordings do not exactly portray the tangible events about to occur, but rather abstractly feel as if the director needed to guide the viewer into a particular point of thought in regards to the events about to take place. This guidance erodes at the loneliness theme of the narrative and inevitably makes it more difficult for the viewer to truly appreciate the resonance of story and the characters. An aspect which could have gotten a little extra information for story purposes is in regards to the history of both main characters. By the conclusion, the plot ultimately retains an element of uncertainty as it is difficult to truly gauge the strength of the conclusion on characters who the audience knows almost nothing about.

While neither Verbeek nor Rea provide strong acting performances both are adequate in depicting the different means by which people approach a feeling of isolation. Rea's character takes a more traditional approach to the experience whereas Verbeek seems somewhat off-the-wall. This is not a bad thing as this helps to differentiate the characters and make them more unique, but some of her actions can seem rather odd in an almost overly poetic manner.

Nothing Personal marks the full-length feature debut for Urszula Antoniak. Her control on scenes really does allow for some lovely landscape imagery, if muted by the colour scheme and harsh weather that surrounds the film, for the viewer to gaze up. It all works in enhancing the reclusiveness of the characters and the visual aids thus synch nicely with the thematic elements being explored. This naturalness is barred by some odd editing problems which occur infrequently.

The film contains no violence while language is strong but used rarely. One scene could constitute as sexual in nature but otherwise there is none to speak of, yet breast nudity does feature in two or three scenes.

There is an emotionally powerful story to be told within Nothing Personal and this is noted by a wonderful use of minimal music and colour variety, however it never really succeeds as expected. The narrative does a decent job on impressing the experience of loneliness onto the viewer but, it is unfortunate that Verbeek and Rea are unable to find the connection between their respective character and the narrative material, and the story can feel thin when the credits roll. Still, Nothing Personal is not a film which should be easily dismissed.


Screen date: 24 July 2010
Release date: N/A (Durban International Film Festival)

Wednesday, 30 June 2010


Finally getting some blood...

While Bella (Kristin Stewart), Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) continue their heated love triangle as to what is best for Bella's future, the nearby city of Seattle is caught within a mysterious string of killings and disappearances. The Cullen family fears the worse, as they are not sure whether the problem in Seattle is related to Victoria (Bryce Dallas-Howard) or the Volturi but nevertheless, they decide that it is best to take precautions in case they get caught up into a situation they may not be able to control.

Eclipse continues the Twilight Saga in a far tighter manner than both its predecessors and this allows for a far more effective use of the Twilight mythology. New revelations are made about the cultures of the vampires and werewolves and this aids the film with a more cemented supernatural feel. Additionally, certain minor characters are allowed to voice their respective pasts: this aids the film's narrative with added character depth as well as giving these characters a vital role in the events to come. The overall narrative is structured reasonably well with two poignant story arcs taking place and ultimately fuse by the end. However, the events in Seattle only provides a simple distraction to the poorly conceived love story which is clearly holding back the series. Thankfully, the love triangle in the film escalates into a stronger conclusion than expected, but that does not stop it being rough around the edges and filled with character development that seems out of place. The romance is also portrayed far too positively with the apparent negative consequences of such oppressive love going unacknowledged. Speaking of which, an apparent theme of selfishness can be ascertained from the primary characters yet it is never utilised strongly enough to help connect the characters. The narrative is commendable, in light of the previous attempts, and definitely a step in the right direction for the final two movies.

With added improvement to the story, it seems rather disappointing that the acting of the central three figures continues to just fall short. Stewart continues to proceed in a dull manner and by this stage it may just be what her character is truly like: but scenes of romance are never able to excite as you would expect of the vampire genre. Sure, the intent behind the love which surrounds the characters is understandable but it continues to lack feeling from Stewart though she does build life in the final arc of the plot. Pattinson is not much better but his acts of jealously do admirably convey the sort of sinister nature which belies his character's love: pity the film never plays on this. Lautner continues his surprising performance from New Moon but the script never really allows him to further his contribution. Minor characters continue to strengthen the acting ensemble but it is a pity that those who represent the Volturi, are either limited to a few minutes or are completely absent.

Another slight improvement is in regards to the computer animation, which flows slightly better this time around with the live-action; a soundtrack that does not always feel tacked on for commercial profitably as orchestra highlights some of the high moments in the film; and directorial control that makes for a more well-rounded experience in which some decent action sequences are allowed to come to life.

Language is in running with previous films with its minimal and tame use. There is no nudity but sexual overtones are slightly stronger in Eclipse than seen in the previous films. The violence factor has been increased rather noticeably, either via implication or actual on-screen events. There is a greater emphasis on action but the lack of blood in death scenes stops it ever being overly violent.

The Volturi may not grant second chances, and for the Twilight franchise that is a good thing. Third time lucky it definitely is as Eclipse is a marked improvement over both the original Twilight and New Moon, mostly because the overall quality is better. The narrative has more depth; the actors appear to be getting a grasp of their characters, and all while the balancing of melodrama with action takes place. The story offers interesting depth and developments which ultimately become underused and so it is unfortunate that no facet of the film is really as strong as it should be given this is the third film in the series.


Screen date: 30 June 2010
Release date: 30 June 2010

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

E3 2010: Sony Conference Overview


Assassin's Creed; Brotherhood
-Multiplayer beta exclusive to PS3.
-Exclusive content.

Dead Space 2:
-Limited edition includes DS: Extraction with Move support.

Echochrome 2:
-Move title

Final Fantasy 14

Gran Turismo 5:
-Top Gear test track
-November 2 2010 launch.

Heroes on the Move:
-Move title
- Ratchet, Jak and Sly combined.

Infamous 2:
-Ice powers added.

Killzone 3:
-live demo in 3D
-February 2011 worldwide release
-Compatible with PS Move at launch

LittleBigPlanet 2:
-Competitive scoring system
-Make your own games with elaborate tools.
-Create HUD's.
-Trailer shows off user creations in 24 hours with no tutorials from the developers, including a working RTS title.

Mafia 2:
-Exclusive DLC at 1 on PS3 version.

Medal of Honor:
-Exclusive content for PS3 version: limited edition includes a remastered version of MOH Frontline.
-Title is modern day and work was done with actual soldiers, military and weapon personnel.
-New character: Deuce.
-Multiplayer designed by Dice.
-October 12 2010 release.

Portal 2:
-Best version on any console according to Gabe
-Coming 2011

Singstar Dance:
- Uses Move

-Move title.
-Play as a magicians apprentice.
-Flick at screen to attack.
-Spells include frost which freezes enemies
-Spells can be combined: fire and wind create a fire storm.
-Fix environments with magic.
-Change into different animals.
-Release: Spring 2011.

Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11:
-Move enabled through upcoming patch.
-1:1 movement.
-Power is important.

Twisted Metal:
-By Eat. Sleep. Play - David Jaffe.
-Flight added.
-Emphasis on team play.
-2011 release.

Playstation Move
-Launch fall 2010.
-Bundle with PS Eye, Move and Sports Champion for $99; PS3 bundle $399.
-Level of precisio
-Level of precision like realism.
-Camera and controller creates 1:1 tracking.
-Developer praise montage.


Playstation Portable


God of War: Ghost of Sparta


Patapon 3

The 3rd Birthday

Valkyria Chronicles 2



-Sony E3 booth recreated in Home.

Playstation Plus
-Subscription based PSN.
-Exclusive digital content, priority to betas, PSN store savings and free content like select PSN games.
- $49.99 for a year; $17.99 for 3 months.
First 3 months free.

Tester 2



- Motorstorm, Killzone 3, Gran Turismo 5, Sly Cooper Collection, Crysis 2, Mortal Kombat, Tron, The Fight, Eyepet.

Coca Cola:
-Cross over advertising with Playstation products.

-Exclusive content for Medal of Honor and Dead Space 2

Kevin Butler:
-Surprise attendance.
-Advertises PS Move.
-'Every gamer is a true gamer'

- 2nd most played console of 2009.

PSP ad campaign:
-Like PS3 ads, with Marcus.
-'Step your game up'

Friday, 21 May 2010

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Dampened sand...

When it discovered that a nearby holy city may be manufacturing weapons for enemy states of Persia, Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his brothers decide to attack the city in order to stop the treachery. When King Sharaman of Persia (Ronald Pickup) arrives Dastan offers his father a gift that ends up poisoning him. Dastan is suspected of murder and so he flees along with the captured Tamina (Gemma Arterton). Dastan soon discovers that he is possession of a powerful dagger that gives its bearer the ability to rewind time.

The Sands of Time is based upon the 2003 video game of the same name but there are few similarities shared between the two. For starters, the narrative is completely different but that does not stop certain story elements from the game sneaking into the odd scene of the film. Fans will definitely appreciate this aspect but their disappointment in the lack of faithfulness to the original game can be understood to some degree. While adaptations always bring about fun possibilities by never been entirely accurate, Prince of Persia forgoes a tale of the Prince finding redemption in place of a tried-and-tested tale of the protagonist attempting to clear their name of some terrible act not of their doing. This inevitably leads to a variety of locales in place of the single castle which contextualised the game and ultimately feels less unique then the premise of the film allows it to be. That said the story works just fine even though it loses direction on the odd occasion. It falls victim to being predictable at times but a decent mix of humour and some workable action sequences keep the experience from never being dull. On a side note, the film does get some depth from its political allusions to the US invasion of Iraq.

The cast can appear unorthodox considering it is a group of Westerners playing Persians and without any changes to speech. Though considering the original game contained a British speaking Caucasian protagonist, the casting come across more like a stylised option rather than a lack of desire to authenticity. The actors do a reasonable job but consistency is somewhat of a problem. At times the actors come across as flat but thankfully there is a charm to Gyllenhaal, intrigue with Arterton, and workable humour from Alfred Molina which prevents the acting from being poor. The chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Arterton only ever finds ground with their constant quips so their romance never feels involved enough by the films end.

The film is littered with computer animation and many acrobatic manoeuvres. The animation is an on and off affair but thankfully does more right than wrong. The scale of some of the imagery is wonderful such as the establishing scenes of the holy city and especially the Hourglass of Time itself. Though, the scenes involving the reverse of time appear underdeveloped. The acrobatic sequences are fairly enjoyable affairs but they are more akin to the Prince of Persia spiritual successor Assassin's Creed rather than the original game itself.

As a Disney film you can expect that nudity and sexual content play no role in the film. The same goes for language while the violence, frequent and somewhat lengthy at times, is relatively bloodless and involves a variety of weaponry slashes and stabbings.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is an intriguing take on its source material, albeit an obviously commercial one. Perhaps, the creators felt that the original plot was not marketable enough and for all intents and purposes they are most likely correct. The problem for the film is its lack of individuality in a stream of Hollywood blockbuster titles: it is just a pity that with a workable plot and metaphorical imagery that the film never reaches the height of its proposed fantastical nature. Granted, the narrative, acting, and base level sense of wonder gets the job done and makes for a fun time. Though, you would think that if the creators themselves had access to the mythical Dagger of Time, they could have gone back and given the film the needed sharpening it deserves.


Screen date: 21 May 2010
Release date: 21 May 2010

Friday, 30 April 2010

Iron Man 2

Less sparks reveal the metal...

Six months after Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) unveiled to the world that he was Iron Man, Stark has created an era of peace between the super powers of the world but he is faced with increasing pressure from the government to allow the military use of the Iron Man suit for military application. This does not come at a good time for Stark as competition from a rival, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell), is continued by the strange appearance of Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke). Vanko poses a threat to Stark as he shares the same knowledge on how to build the arc rector on which the Iron Man suit works.

Iron Man 2's story shares a little too much similarity to that of the original. Like the first, Iron Man 2 is not aggressive as it bathes itself in some quick humour and a rather silly middle-arc. This keeps the comic book feel of the source material unlike The Dark Knight, for instance, which attempted to rework Batman into a more real world setting. That said, Iron Man 2 does a great job of seeming real with some potentially viable politics occurring: the US government wanting the Iron Man suit for military application makes sense. In addition to this, Iron Man 2 does a decent job of setting in motion the upcoming Avengers film. Nevertheless, the film's narrative falters in two distinct ways: familiarity and lack of focus. The problem this time around is that the villains, and their motivations, are too familiar to that of the villain in the first film. Both Hammer and Danko appear as two parts of Obadiah Stane from the first film, and like Stane before they want the technology behind the Iron Man suit. Granted, Danko is able to make the arc reactor himself due to an interesting sub-plot, which plays less into the story than expected, but the villains ultimately come down to just wanting what Tony Stark has. Consequently, the arrival of two villains also brings along a few more heroes including Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) and the arrival of War Machine. While it is great to see the Avengers plot moving ahead, it results in less glory time for Iron Man himself. By the film's closure, it feels as if Iron Man had not done enough with so many different characters getting perhaps a little more screen-time then they ought to. There was talk of re-shoots having to take place for the film and it shows at times: with so many characters and villains, the films pacing can feel offish on the odd occasion because there is just a little too much for what the story is trying to convey. Perhaps if structured a little more like The Dark Knight, in terms of villains and heroes, Iron Man 2 would have been a bit more coherent, but I suppose it just was not 'part of the plan'. Nevertheless, it is a workable story that keeps things going but it could be a lot tighter.

On the acting front there is a lot more to be desired, but there are still some slight issues. Downey Jr. and Paltrow slide back into their respective Iron Man characters with relative ease. It is also great to see how both build upon their characters as the character development allows them to: Downey Jr. is able to emphasise the despair and narcissist feeling he has about his own individual mortality, whereas Paltrow's gives Pepper Potts the more assertive nature she needs to keep Tony Stark in check. While their romantic relationship is not as strong as it could be, it is noticeable from their scenes together. Don Cheadle replaces Terence Howard from the first film and does a respectable enough job. The rest of the cast are adequate to a point with Rockwell overacting his role with decent results, Johansson being a little dull with hers, and Rourke not having nearly enough screen time to be a menacing villain.

The computer graphics are nice to look at but are never overly convincing. While they work there are odd occasions where the texturing on the Iron Man suits appears too cartoon-like. That said they look great in action scenes, of which there should have been more, while the special effects only prove to enhance the overall graphics.

Much like the first film, there is little in terms of swearing and no nudity beyond revealing outfits. Sex is merely referred to in passing while the violence, with some mild blood in the odd scene, is pretty similar to the first film with explosions, gunfire and hand-to-hand combat taking place.

Iron man 2 is a fun film but it is just not as good as its predecessor. While the basic plot resembles that of the original, Iron Man 2 is far too ambitious for its own good. The new heroes do not develop strongly enough and take away vital screen time from Iron Man. Likewise, the new villains feel underused and ultimately never pose any real threat, especially when they are easily outnumbered and outmatched by the heroes. The narrative is not focused enough and the action sequences are never as spectacular as they should be. Nevertheless, the narrative introduces some interesting developments and gets the basic ideas across to the audience, while the actors do a good job. Like Quantum of Solace, Iron Man 2 feels like a weak middle ground for a possible satisfying conclusion: the potential is there.


Screen date: 1 May 2010
Release date: 1 May 2010

Wednesday, 28 April 2010 not Resistance 3?

A recent article over at System Link made an interesting theory that the viral site gknova6 may in fact be related to an upcoming Resistance title instead of the heavily believed Call of Duty 7: this may not be the case.

It is a nice guess until further digging into the registrar information reveals that the original assumption of Call of Duty 7 may indeed be the correct one.

The registrar information for gknova6 reveals the registrar to be It comes as no surprise that the exact same registrar belongs to Treyarch's official home page.

The registrar for Insomniac's official home page is, which happens to be the same registrar for all four viral websites related to Resistance 2.

While we will only officially know until the viral website reveals the game ultimately being marketed, it is a strong assumption that Resistance 3 is by no means related to gknova6: but I suppose you never know.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Shutter Island

Undeniably captivating ...

Taking on the case of a mysterious disappearance of a patient in a hospital for those who are criminally insane, US Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) attempt to investigate a rather absurd escape. With the help of the head psychiatrist Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley), Teddy and Chuck attempt to unravel how a patient, named Rachael Solando (Emily Mortimer), was able to completely vanish from the confines of her locked room.

Shutter Island begins with a brooding image of a ferry making its way through some heavy fog, and it is the very enigmatic nature of the scene which claws its way throughout the narrative till the thought provoking conclusion. This becomes far more evident when many scenes and symbolic gestures in the film are soaked in a hint of polysemy. Of course this would not work without a very engaging storyline and Shutter Island makes for an exciting, and never dull, thriller. This is mostly achieved through the narratives pacing being quite consistent throughout for the film never felt like it was dragging. That said, it can be a little disorientating when the narrative decides its time to bombard information upon Teddy, and the viewer, in an attempt to guide the film to the mystery of Rachael Solando's escape. The film is by no means overly complicated but if you lose track of the information which these certain scenes attempt to convey, the films real twist can appear somewhat disjointed even if it is to an extent predictable.

The narrative is only heightened by a group of actors who do a convincing job of representing their respective characters. The character of Teddy is easily the most important and DiCaprio does a great job of conveying the character's need to find the truth while battling the guilt over the horrors of his own past life. Kingsley provides a wonderful performance as the head psychiatrist on the island who wishes to rehabilitate the mentally ill instead of resorting to measures such as lobotomy. He has a restrained and calm manner which exudes his character's intellectual capability. Ruffalo provides good support to DiCaprio, as he assumes the role of the concerned and eager to help partner. The entire supporting cast, involving the likes of Ted Levine and Elias Koteas, to name a few, all perform at their best to assure that Shutter Island feels highly believable, though it is just a pity that some of them only appear for a few minutes. This does result in Teddy being the only character with any real emotional appeal outside the intellectual nature of the film.

The filming style by Martin Scorsese is an absolute wonder, especially the final scene, as he utilises varying techniques in order to construct the web of events into something meaningful but abstract. Some techniques could appear unusable in modern films but they nevertheless work to enhance the film. Another good addition to the cinematography is how a few stylised camera sequences are used on single occasions allowing the film to constantly remain fresh. The computer imagery which accompanies the work is of a generally high standard with some beautifully rendered scenes enhanced by the Gothic atmosphere. Still, the computer imagery is not entirely top tier material with some scenes lacking the polish of others.

There is no sex in the film though nudity does make an appearance in one scene of a couple of seconds showing some male genitalia. Violence is largely in the form of Teddy's memories which involve soldiers being gunned down and blood appearing in large pools, both for realistic deaths and for artistic reasons. Dead bodies are shown throughout, some with bloody results, and involve adults and children. Language is contained mostly to F-words and blasphemy. Neither overpower the film and are sporadically placed through the plus 2 hour run time, yet the blasphemy can come across as slightly more excessive then required.

Shutter Island culminates into a fascinating outlook on how truth can be both liberating and destructive. This is achieved through a combination of a tight and absorbing narrative; superb acting performances; and a film style that enhances the Gothic atmosphere required for the thematic depth to be appreciated. The film does lose some footing with the odd narrative hiccup; some slight graphical issues; and a lack of emotional pull from the general characters for some part of the film. Nevertheless, Shutter Island is an intelligently taut thriller which allows its viewers to ultimately invest in its characters and story while providing ample entertainment.


Screen date: 12 March 2010
Release date: 12 March 2010

Thursday, 11 March 2010

GDC 2010: Sony Conference Overview

Playstation 3

Playstation Move
- motion controller.
- bundles include standalone controller, with the playstation eye and a whole PS3 bundle.

Playstation Move sub controller
- 2nd controller to assist the Move for use in traditional games.

- trailer shows off the PS Move adding new motion control actions to the game beyond the existing PS Eye movements.

- demo showcasing the PS Move.
- one person controls the Sackboy while the other player uses the Move to manipulate the environment.

Gran Turismo 5:
- will ship in 2010.

Motion Fighters:
- black and white 3rd person fighting game where 2 PS Move controllers are used for each arm of the character.

Move Party:
- family title which uses the Move, PS Eye and mic.
- similar in design to the original Eyetoy games by including a bunch of mini games like hitting objects, painting and cutting hair.

Socom 4:
- includes support for the motion controls with use of the Move and sub controller.

Sports Champion:
- includes a variety of games including Gladiator Fight, table tennis.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Alice in Wonderland

Late for tea ...

While attending a party on a Victorian estate, Alice Kingsley (Mia Wasikowska) becomes interested in an apparent white rabbit she sees. Upon following the rabbit, Alice finds herself caught up in a magical world unlike reality known as Underland. Alice believes she is dreaming, but with the help of the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) she learns that she is needed to help stop the Red Queen's (Helena Bonham Carter) reign of terror.

Alice in Wonderland can, on first appearance, seem like a remake of the original story on which it is based. But as the story develops it becomes clear that it is a sequel of sorts following the life of Alice now that she is older. The narrative is divided into two parts, namely the Victorian setting which opens and closes the film and that of Underland of which the film is mostly comprised. There is a very interesting point of departure in how both worlds become important for Alice's development as a woman in Victorian London but the relation is just poorly implemented on Tim Burton's part. Though, it must be said that Alice in Wonderland is merely Lewis Carroll's original story just with a Goth coating and with less thematic depth: in fact it is perhaps one of Burton's least original and weakest in terms of narrative fecundity but the feminist undertones are noticeable. It should be noted that character development is perhaps the weakest point of the film with no character really showing off any tangible development whatsoever. It could be argued that Alice does grow as a character and this is what allows her to make the decisions she does in the end, but these actions only portray her original feminist ideas, rather than any self-reflection on her part of the society in which she lives. In a rather bizarre twist, the seriousness of the final act of Underland is finished by a rather unappealing, albeit slightly funny, act which hurts the more film then it helps. Humour becomes a largely hit-and-miss affair with some being plainly unfunny, though the Red Queen allows for some good laughs.

That said, the acting is a mixed bag with some actors getting their respective character spot on and others seemingly unable to do so. Alice and the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) are sadly examples of the latter which is disappointing since it is with these two that the film carries itself. Wasikowska may be able to look the part but she is far too subdued in her emotion and tone range for the feminist Alice, while Hathaway gets herself wrapped up in poor overacting. On the reverse there are some great performances to be seen with the Red Queen and the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry). Both are wonderful performances and easily help elevate the film's overall quality as Carter shouts out the most hilarious line of the film over and over without any dulling effect as Fry oozes a charisma that is sure to put a smile on your face. Lastly, there is Depp as the Mad Hatter: Depp comes across as playing his usual eccentric character which feels a little tiresome at times these days. On top of this his character's vocal change shows hint of his Jack Sparrow character which breaks the illusion of the film. Nevertheless, Depp does showcase why he is a talented actor but he never really does anything exciting to make the Mad Hatter that much different to previous roles.

On the opposite side of the spectrum the physical nature of the film looks and sounds delightful with some good use of computer animation and music. It is never on par with the likes of Avatar in terms of lushness, but there is a distinct cartoon feel which resonates well for the film: just as great as Fry is as the Cheshire Cat, so is the physical manifestation of the character an appealing sight. There are however some shortcomings such as wonky movement animation on the rare character and some major texturing issues resulting in some average looking character models. The added 3D elements in the 3D version of the film lack life and are unimaginatively used for the sole purpose of having the film released at 3D cinemas.

The film contains no sex, nudity or language. Violence is in small dose with some sword fighting which results in a creature having its eye taken out and another losing its head but it is far from being termed 'violent'.

'Wonderful' would be far too much praise for Burton's adaptation of Lewis Carroll's classic story. Like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory before, Alice in Wonderland shows why Burton's version of an existing story is not always a good one. The narrative lacks depth with feminist dealings being the only core concern; character development is unheard of; and the overall acting ensemble do not do the overall cast justice. That said the computer animation serves the film's source material adequately enough; the musical score is worth noting and the film offers a potentially fun experience: it just lacks the wonder it so desperately needs.


Screen date: 06 March 2010
Release date: 06 March 2010

Thursday, 11 February 2010

The Wolfman

Incomplete transformation ...

After learning that his brother has disappeared, Lawrence Talbot (Benecio Del Toro), returns to his family estate to find that his brother was the victim of a ferocious attack. Lawrence decides to find out what happened to his brother all while trying to juggle relations with his brothers fiancée, Gwen (Emily Blunt), and his alienating father, Sir John (Anthony Hopkins). Inevitably, Lawrence is attacked in the same manner as his brother but manages to survive. This only leads to him being cursed with a transformation into a werewolf during a full moon.

1880's England is a lovely sight to behold from the opening minutes of the film and the gloomy weather, architecture and somewhat sombre tone of the film only go to visually highlight the very important Gothic themes with which the film will utilize. Thankfully this remains a constant throughout the film for the narrative does not. The story starts off interestingly enough with increasing debate as to whether a beast or lunatic is going around killing people. The plot thickens when it is discovered that Lawrence himself was placed in a mental asylum when he was younger and the introduction of Scotland Yard inspector Aberline (Hugo Weaving) gives the film the very sense of mystery it needs. Though Aberline does very little in terms of tangible investigation as the film's opening few arcs fall away to some very quick plot reveals. And this is one of the major problems with the film's story as a whole: so much is revealed so quickly that the last third to quarter of the film contains nothing for the narrative beyond a poorly conceived romance between Gwen and Lawrence. This, in turn, only happens because character development in terms of relations is not fully realized. If anything, the asylum arc of the film is very enjoyable next to some fun, albeit rather violent, action sequences. And the inclusions of some genuinely good horror elements add to the dynamic, even if lacking, narrative.

The acting performances are also somewhat on the weaker side. Del Toro and Blunt seemed somewhat distracted. Of course the death of Ben Talbot (Simon Merrells) lingers over both of them but their melancholy never feels real. Both do become progressively better by the films end but never really enough to show what both are capable of. Hopkins has an intriguing role as the protagonist's father who lives in the family estate by himself but his character lacks the emotional impact to allow much from Hopkins. Weaving is the best of the lot and gives his character the life he needs to appear as both a concerned inspector of the law, while also a figure that could potentially see his duty as above common humanity. Weaving's character is not explored enough so his screen time can feel limited at times.

On a better note the technical aspects of the film are quite compelling. The very bleak look of the films setting hits hard the atmosphere that is to be expected from the remainder of the film. The CGI and special effects are largely good enough to help capture the Gothic essence but there is the odd moment where it seems poorly implemented, such as when there is a close-up of the werewolf running at a high speed. Architecture is used well with costume design clearing indicating towards as faithful a recreation of 1880's England as possible. Lastly the look of the werewolf himself is workable and exudes a promising menacing force for a monster film.

There is no sex and almost as little use of language. There is no direct nudity but a female character is shown from behind without a top on. Violence makes up for what is missing however, with some violent, bloody and gory sequences involving decapitations and other more beastly attempts at mutilation. As expected, these are all done during the night which somewhat blankets the violence but nevertheless it can be quite explicit even though the deaths are not lingered on for long.

There is much to love in the opening half of The Wolfman as it sets itself up for a potentially thrilling finale. But for all the intense Gothic atmospheric inclusions that the film uses for its foundation, such as the costume design, CGI and scale of the visual treat that is 1880's England, it nevertheless falls apart by the films end. If you wish for a dark and bloody exposition on a werewolf then you should be satisfied, but that does not stop some underwhelming performances and a thin narrative from impending the transformation of excellent ideas into an excellent film. At one point Sir John exclaims: 'The beast will have its day' but for now The Wolfman will have to do until that day comes.


Screen date: 10 February 2010
Release date: 12 February 2010

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Top 10 Films of 2009

So I have finally come to my top 10 films of 2009. As before, these relate to films released in South Africa during 2009 and may include some that had a 2008 release elsewhere. And they are:

10. Knowing
Review not available.

9. Adam

Review not available.

8. Genova
Review not available.

7. Depatures
Review not available.

6. Drag me to Hell
Full Review
Drag Me to Hell is one of the most enjoyable horror films of recent times. It has an interesting, supernatural storyline with interesting characters; reasonably good acting, though it could have been stronger; and intriguing cinematographic design, even if a little overused. There is even well formulated social commentary which really adds wonders in allowing the film to appeal on an intellectual level. Raimi’s grip on horror makes for a great deal of suspense and the added humour only makes the film all the more devious. All this is achieved with a minimal level of objectionable content, making the film less conformist to the horror genre as it stands and showcases Raimi at what he does best. Though the shining achievement of Drag Me to Hell is that it does what a horror should: not just simply gross out the audience but rather aim to scare and entertain them.

5. Valkyrie
Full Review
Valkyrie can be considered Tom Cruise's return to cinema, and thankfully the end result is a positive one. He is backed up by a decent storyline and a superb selection of actors. Sure the film could have used with some better pacing, more depth and subtlety; and the lack of German accents do possibly ruin the experience if you allow it to do so, but these problems do not hurt the film in any serious manner. Valkyrie might lack the literary impact to allow it to be phenomenal, but that does not stop it being watchable and exciting.

4. Coraline
Review not available.

3. An Education
Full Review
There is a charming simplicity to An Education which allows the narrative to unfold without any hindrance. The acting is great, the direction is just as good, and the story has some important messages to impart to audiences. Though as a coming-of-age story, An Education steers clear of trying to have an impact with its core themes, and ultimately suffers for convenience.

2. District 9
Full Review
District 9 is being heralded as one of the best science fiction films to ever be showcased and its not difficult to understand why: it has a mature and exciting narrative, even if unclear at times, which brings about enough material to further the created universe in many directions. With a brilliant example of acting by Sharlto Copley, fascinating cinematography from Neill Blomkamp, high quality CGI, and engaging violence, District 9 is one of the most exciting films of recent years with only a few hitches. And as for this year, it easily relegates other recent blockbusters to the levels of mediocrity they deserve.

1.Still Walking
Review not available.

What were your Top 10 films of last year?

Top 10 Disappointments of 2009

My first post of 2010 comes a little late due to some misfortune with internet, being busy and a little lazy at times. Regardless, here is my top 10 Disappointments of 2009. This list contains all films which either saw a commercial or film festival release in 2009 in South Africa. So some films may originate from 2008 due to their late release here and some films could seem clearly missing cause I never got to see them all. So here we go:

10. G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Review Not Available.

9. Transporter 3
Review Not Available.

8. New Moon
Full review
While somewhat enjoyable, New Moon lacks identity and this is solely based on the fact that it does little to enhance the Twilight formula. Richer mythology is added; the quality of acting has increased in the overall cast; and the special effects have undergone a needed retuning. But like Edward so blandly points about himself, the film lacks a soul. The brewing romance between Bella and Edward is lifeless with a general lack of development throughout all the characters. Likewise, the narrative never really seems to head in any viable direction and it is up to the lesser characters to get the film's blood pumping.

7. Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian
Review Not Available.

6. Passengers
Review Not Available.

5. The Haunting in Connecticut
Review Not Available.

4. Chandni Chowk to China
Full review
Simply put, Chandni Chowk to China is a disappointing film especially when its taken into consideration that it was delayed from its original release in October/ November last year. It is difficult to tell if any additions were made because nothing really gels well for the film as a whole. The acting is passable, with the Chinese actors being the highlight; the story is decent but is overshadowed by a mere subplot; and the music selection is shocking. That said the film has some of the best action sequences in a Bollywood film with the martial arts being fun to watch and the film is comedic throughout. However it should be advised that one's enjoyment of the film depends merely on their temperament for stupidity.

3. The Countess
Full review
The Countess is a surprisingly average film with a good sense of technical techniques being weighed down by some weak showcases of acting and a confused directional narrative. The beginning attempts to setup the film as a mystery thriller, something to get audiences debating the accuracy of events, but ultimately the film is so conclusive with what it wants audiences to believe that the film gets muddled up in its own creative process. It is an interesting movie with an exciting subject at its helm, but it is nonetheless a flawed film that just never gets going

2. Transformers: Rise of the Fallen
Review Not Available

1. Obsessed
Review Not Available

What were your disappointing films of last year?