Grand Theft Auto V (2014)
When a young street hustler, a retired bank robber and a terrifying psychopath find themselves entangled with some of the most frightening and deranged elements of the criminal underworld, the U.S. government and the entertainment industry, they must pull off a series of dangerous heists to survive in a ruthless city in which they can trust nobody, least of all each other.
There is little left to be said about Grand Theft Auto V which hasn’t been said before. There is a reason that this mammoth game is one of the best selling games of all time, why five years down the line it still features in the annual top game lists, and why it continues to be an absolute unit of a cash cow for parent company Rockstar Games.
Now I’m not interested in the massively successful multiplayer mode, instead it is the campaign which I want to gush about. Extremely late to the party, all I can say that this is once again a masterclass in merging story into an open world sandbox title. The seamless story/action transitions, the character switching, the seemingly endless amount of things you can interact with or do in the world is astounding. Sure, the gunplay could be seen as a little simplistic (even at the time of release), but mixed in with the rest of the elements, the cinematography, the exceptional soundtrack… well, everything just works.
Honestly, I can see exactly why GTA V sits with as high a metacritic rating as what it does.
Cities: Skylines (2017)
There isn’t a story blurb for this one, but basically Cities: Skylines is hands down the best city builder currently available on the Xbox. After the last Sim Cities dropped the ball in a horrible PR negative way, developer Colossal Order and publisher Paradox Interactive unleashed this modern city builder that quickly became a firm fan favourite, so much so that developer Tantalus Media was approached to produce a console port.
The end result is a magnificent city builder that works flawlessly with a Xbox game controller, one which is guaranteed to suck up MANY precious hours of your lifespan. Urban planning, zoning, districts, taxation, policies, road, subway and rail placement, public works – its an absolutely delightful time sink.
The game runs well, is particularly well supported with DLC, and in my opinion is an absolute must for anyone with an inkling of love for the city building genre.
Naturally, I’m completely in love.
Batman: Assault on Arkham is set in the universe of the Batman: Arkham video game franchise, and occurs after the events of Batman: Arkham Origins. The story focuses primarily on the Suicide Squad, particularly Batman villains Deadshot and Harley Quinn, with Batman in a supporting role. In the film, a Suicide Squad of six hardened, super-powered criminals is dispatched by Amanda Waller to break into Arkham Asylum and retrieve a specific item, where they must contend with the asylum’s inmates, including the dangerous as always Joker, and not to mention the ever present Batman, as they attempt to complete their mission.
When we first heard that the latest offering in the excellent DC Universe Animated Original Movies line was to be yet another Batman title, we sighed. But as it turns out, Batman isn’t exactly the star of this particular outing, making for quite the nice twist as we follow a rampaging group trying to achieve their goal and thus buy their freedom, against some pretty overwhelming odds. It is to date the most violent (and graphically so) outing in this great movie line, but ignoring that this genuinely isn’t a half bad attempt at doing something different and it certainly entertains from start to finish, with more than a few surprises hidden up its sleeve. It’s a solid, good looking animated film that is a great watch for any Batman comic book fans.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 85%
Walk of Shame stars Elizabeth Banks as a resourceful reporter whose one-night stand with a handsome stranger (James Marsden) leaves her stranded the next morning in downtown Los Angeles without a phone, car, ID, or money – and only 8 hours before the most important job interview of her career.
This movie had me laughing out loud, and as such, is a genuinely laugh out loud comedy that will keep you entertained from start to finish. Elizabeth Banks is thoroughly entertaining in her role, and as a whole the movie is well put together and a proper polished comedy gem, despite the weirdly low Rotten Tomatoes rating. Both Chantelle and I loved it, making it well worth it as a date night watch!
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 12%
There is a new criminal mastermind at large-Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris) – and not only is he Sherlock Holmes’ (Robert Downey Jr.) intellectual equal, but his capacity for evil, coupled with a complete lack of conscience, may actually give him an advantage over the renowned detective. When the Crown Prince of Austria is found dead, the evidence, as construed by Inspector Lestrade, points to suicide. But Sherlock Holmes deduces that the prince has been the victim of murder – a murder that is only one piece of a larger and much more portentous puzzle, designed by Professor Moriarty. The cunning Moriarty is always one step ahead of Holmes and Watson as he spins a web of death and destruction – all part of a greater plan that, if he succeeds, will change the course of history.
I enjoyed Guy Ritchie’s first stab at Sherlock Holmes very much, and as such, Holme’s second outing is equally as enjoyable. The second installment is as expected, louder, longer, and perhaps a little more action-orientated than the first (which is in truth a pity), but nevertheless remains a great action/mystery film watch with superb action, style, and filmography. Definitely worth picking up!
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 60%
In a nutshell, a divorced couple of pensionable age (Pierce Brosnan as Richard Jones and Emma Thompson as Kate Jones), have their retirement nest egg wiped out when Richard’s investment firm is defrauded and the pension fund is siphoned away. Learning that the unscrupulous French financier behind the scheme has just purchased a $10 million diamond for his bride to be, the divorced duo grudgingly agree to set aside their differences, head over to France, and hatch a plot to gate-crash the wedding and steal the jewel.
Sadly, this movie just doesn’t work. Despite the talent and one or two chuckle-worthy moments, the whole plot is just too contrived and as a whole, The Love Punch comes across as a bungled attempt at classic caper cinema. Everything runs too smoothly, there are too many leaps in plot and as a whole, nothing feels believable behind the whole adventure. Not worth checking out to be honest.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 27%
War of the Worlds: Goliath is a 2012 Malaysian animated science fiction film directed by Joe Pearson that was released in November 15, 2012 in Malaysia. Unlike other War of the Worlds films, this film is a loose sequel to H. G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds.
With strong dieselpunk/steampunk undertones, the film is set in an alternate reality Manhattan, New York City, in 1914, just before the First World War. As it happened, Earth was invaded and laid waste to by Martian invaders, doing most of their damage via giant tripod battle machines. However, the invaders eventually succumbed to common Earth bacteria, thus allowing humanity to recover and rebuild.
However, the aliens are set to return, now immune to Earth’s bacteria, setting the stage for a second confrontation. This time around though, humanity, having learned a few tricks of their own since the first war, are ready – as are their giant battle mecha!
Honestly, this wasn’t very good as a whole. The backdrops are generally beautiful and well animated, but the main characters and action sequences not so much. Simple lines, over-muscular builds on all the male characters, and often very flat CG overlay effects (particularly for things like fire, lasers and explosions), means that visually not everything works on this one. The story is relatively simple and just a little too ‘rah rah’ for me as well, and I have to be honest, despite one or two nice ideas (particularly the steampunk aspect of it all), I struggled to make it through this one in a single sitting.
It isn’t for kids I don’t think (given all the death rays employed to great success), but it doesn’t really work for adults either, leaving this film stranded in a bit of a no man’s land scenario really. Not recommended, nor worth the time.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: N/A
The Lego Movie is a 2014 computer animated adventure comedy film directed and co-written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, and featuring the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, and Morgan Freeman.
Based mainly on the Lego line of construction toys, the film tells the story of an ordinary Lego minifigure named Emmet prophesied to save the Lego universe from the tyrannical Lord Business who plans to use the Kragle to glue everything in place.
Sounds simple enough, but oh my goodness, what a fantastic, heartfelt film that is guaranteed to please absolutely anyone who watches it – provided of course they’ve had some sort of exposure to LEGO in their lifetime. It pushes all the right buttons, features humour on levels for both young and old, carries a huge sense of nostalgia for older viewers, and then to top it all off, tugs equally hard at the heartstrings at the very end.
It’s a fantastic tale, that is brilliantly done, featuring the perfect voice actors, fantastically clever visuals and an awesome soundtrack. Having gushed all that, by now you might just have guessed as to how much I enjoyed The LEGO Movie – and just how much I recommend you see it, especially with your kids!
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 96%
Paul is a 2011 British-American Comic science fiction road film directed by Greg Mottola and written by and starring Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, with Seth Rogen as the voice of the title character. The film is about two British science fiction fans who meet an ET-like alien who has a sarcastic manner and a penchant for alcohol and cigarettes. The two help the alien to escape secret service agents who are pursuing him so he can return to his home planet.
Hmm, I have to say, I’ve come to realize that I’m not actually such a big fan of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost buddy movies after all. Paul has a moment or two, but to be honest, it felt as if it just lumbered through some over the top scenarios (one after the other) and just didn’t put in the necessary laugh a minute punches to make it a memorable comedy film. Maybe it is because I’m a little jaded, but I have to say, I can’t really remember enjoying this one all that much.
Still, the CG visuals are great, and the soundtrack pretty good too – plus, the surprise ending certainly proved a unsuspected treat!
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 71% (looks like a lot of people enjoyed it after all).
Four hundred years in the future, Aeon Flux is the top underground operative at war with the totalitarian regime governing what appears to be a perfect society. But is this perfect life hiding a perfect lie? Aeon is on the front lines of a rebellion that will reveal a world of secrets.
Hmm, it’s hard to say that I found Aeon Flux a complete disappointment, primarily because at the end of the day I really did enjoy the visual style, the visuals themselves, and all futuristic concepts on display. That said, the acting is perhaps not the greatest in the world, and there are some action sequences that are just too over the top (read silly) to be enjoyable. The story starts out interesting enough and there is certainly twists and turns that you don’t see coming, but it feels jerky quite often in terms of pacing, and there are just too many implausible logical jumps (and twists), all of which combine with some seriously dull dialogue that eventually just weighs the movie down.
Honestly, it probably isn’t worth watching, even if you adored the original MTV cartoons. Unless of course you’re a big Charlize Theron fan that is.
Rotten Tomatoes rating: 10% (That rating seems a little harsh to me)
Studio BONES adapted Skull Man into an anime TV series which premiered on Fuji TV in April 2007. The series is directed by Takeshi Mori and written by Yutaka Izubuchi. Unlike the previous Skull Man, the story closely focuses on a journalist named Hayato Mikogami who returns to his hometown at Otomo to investigate strange rumors of killings done by a man wearing a skull mask. Tailed tightly by a young photographer, Kiriko Mamiya, the two soon uncover the many strings of connections between the victims, a local pharmaceutical company, a mysterious new religious sect, and strange half human, half animal creatures, which roam the night streets for blood.
Nice and short, lots of intrigue and some decent twists and turns (even if the plot does hasten a little too fast towards the end) makes for an enjoyable viewing that starts out strong, fumbles a bit during the middle, and then picks up some good steam to deliver an action-packed finale – which doesn’t necessarily satisfy the viewer mind you. Dark visuals, slick animation and a generally likable cast makes for a decent drama/horror watch that will certainly entertain followers of the genre.
In the end, I did enjoy the viewing, though I can’t necessarily say that I loved it. Worth catching given the slickness of production though.
Elysium is a 2013 American dystopian science fiction action thriller film written, directed, and co-produced by Neill Blomkamp (South African, woo-hoo!), and starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster. The film takes place on both a ravaged Earth, and a luxurious space habitat called Elysium. It explores political and sociological themes such as immigration, overpopulation, health care, exploitation, the justice system, and class issues:
Max Da Costa (Matt Damon), a former car thief, and now a parolee, lives in the ruins of Los Angeles and works at an assembly line for Armadyne Corp, a company which supplies Elysian weaponry as well as the robots which police Earth. After being accidentally poisoned by a lethal dose of radiation, Max has only five days to live, and seeks help from a smuggler named Spider (Wagner Moura) to get him to Elysium.
Visually, Elysium delivers on all fronts, and in general, I have to say I enjoyed this film. The story is well implemented and paced, Matt Damon is fantastic as always, and although Sharlto Copley’s South African accent was a bit over the top, he made a great psychotic antagonist. It’s a heavy, but action-packed watch, and certainly a good follow-up to Blomkamp’s previous outing, namely District 9. (Essentially, if you liked District 9, you’ll probably like Elysium).
Dallas Buyers Club is a 2013 American biographical drama film directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and written by Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack. Matthew McConaughey stars as the real-life AIDS patient Ron Woodroof, who smuggled unapproved pharmaceutical drugs into Texas when he found them effective at improving his symptoms, and distributed them to fellow sufferers by establishing the “Dallas Buyers Club” while facing opposition from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
First off, this really is a terrible movie. The guy is a dick from start to finish quite frankly, motivated entirely by profit and self preservation, and as such it makes it impossible to actually root for anything. Matthew McConaughey is brilliant in the role, but seriously, this story doesn’t really go anywhere and I genuinely struggled to bother watching it all the way through.
If these happenings were part of your reality at the time, then maybe this will appeal to you, but I certainly can’t say that I got anything out of the viewing. Neither did Chantelle for that matter.
Black Swan is a 2010 American psychological thriller/horror film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman, Vincent Cassel, and Mila Kunis. The plot revolves around a production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake ballet by a prestigious New York City company. The production requires a ballerina to play the innocent and fragile White Swan, for which the committed dancer Nina is a perfect fit, as well as the dark and sensual Black Swan, which are qualities embodied by the new arrival Lily. Nina is overwhelmed by a feeling of immense pressure when she finds herself competing for the part, causing her to lose her tenuous grip on reality and descend into a living nightmare.
This is not a movie that I would normally watch, but seeing as it was one that Chantelle wanted to see, I sat through it with her. To be honest, the dark tale is pretty okay most of the way through, and certainly does keep one interested from start to finish – but I have to say, it fell a little flat for me when Aronofsky took a couple of steps too far and incorporated the whole CG swan transformation sequences. This broke the story’s ‘reality’ for me just a little too much, and as such, I ended the film feeling a little disappointed and disillusioned with the tale as a whole.
Again, not my cup of tea, but for people who enjoy dark tales of the human condition, this probably hits all the right spots.
Kick-Ass 2 is a 2013 British-American superhero action comedy film based on the comic book of the same name and Hit-Girl, both by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr., and is the sequel to the 2010 film Kick-Ass, as well as the second installment of the Kick-Ass film series. The film was written and directed by Jeff Wadlow and co-produced by Matthew Vaughn, who directed the first film. Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Chloë Grace Moretz reprise their roles from the first film as Dave Lizewski, Chris D’Amico, and Mindy Macready respectively.
Dave Lizewski, bored after having retired from fighting crime as Kick-Ass, begins training with Mindy Macready to become a proper hero. Eventually he resumes his life as Kick-Ass, and joins the superhero team Justice Forever, led by Colonel Stars and Stripes. At the same time, after accidentally killing his mother, Chris D’Amico is now in control of his family’s money, and reinvents himself as supervillain The Motherfucker – and swearing vengeance on Kick-Ass, the two groups head straight for a very bloody confrontation!
Um, yeah, I have to say, I found this a pretty boring outing. Jim Carrey blew me away in his role as Colonel Stars and Stripes (wasn’t expecting that!), and it was nice seeing Turk from Scrubs (Donald Faison) getting some screen time again, but outside of that, this movie was a bit of a chore to sit through. Over the top, violence for the sake of violence, gross out bits, and really just a bit… juvenile, I strongly suspect that I definitely was not the target market for this one. Though to be honest, I’m not exactly sure who is.
Oblivion is a 2013 post-apocalyptic science fiction film based on Joseph Kosinski’s Radical Comics-edited unpublished graphic novel of the same name. The film was co-written, produced and directed by Kosinski. It stars Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, and Olga Kurylenko.
In 2077, the Earth has been ravaged from war sixty years prior with the extraterrestrial Scavengers (Scavs); the war destroyed the Moon, causing earthquakes and tsunamis, while humanity used nuclear weapons to achieve a costly victory. Humanity is now relocating to Saturn’s moon Titan via the “Tet”, a large tetrahedron-shaped space station used as a launching point.
On Earth, Tech 49 Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) and his partner Victoria “Vika” Olsen (Andrea Riseborough) are two of the last few humans on Earth. Stationed at Tower 49 in what used to be northeastern United States, they are instructed by mission controller Sally (Melissa Leo) to protect from Scav attacks the gigantic offshore fusion energy generators, using a combination of Drones and Jack’s reconnaissance via his ship. Though both had memory wipes five years prior, Jack experiences visions of being on the observation deck of the Empire State Building well before the war – and images of a mysterious woman…
First up, I have to say that the visuals are absolutely stunning, and the cast are perfect, the action sequences great, and the story contains a well executed twist – in other words perfect Sci-Fi. But the pacing… not so much. Actually, I lay the blame squarely at the muddling and slow-paced soundtrack – M83, the band behind the music fails to generate the necessary musical temp to match the action-packed sequences, resulting in an almost boring, listless affair.
It’s a pity really, because everything else really appealed to me, and yet I ended the viewing feeling a little ‘meh’. So did Chantelle, so I know I’m not alone on this one either.
I can’t say I really game any more these days, but funnily enough, thanks to Microsoft’s Games with Gold XBOX 360 initiative, I have been able to dip my toe into a far greater range of titles that I might have otherwise. This is a quick round up of the titles that I’ve spent a little time on over the course of the last couple of months (you know, when the three year old and newborn in the house let me…)
In the aftermath of Hitman: Blood Money, Diana Burnwood, Agent 47’s handler with the International Contract Agency, suddenly goes rogue, carrying out a catastrophic sabotage that includes publicly exposing the Agency. The Agency reforms under agent Benjamin Travis; Travis assigns 47 to kill Diana and bring Victoria, a teenage girl in her care, to the Agency. Shooting and wounding Diana in her home in Chicago, 47, rather than executing her, comforts the dying Diana, who gives him a letter and asks him to keep Victoria safe from the Agency.
It’s the fifth installment in the Hitman game franchise and as such, if you’ve played any of these titles before then you know exactly what you are going to get. Lots of sneaking around, carefully laying traps and taking people out, disguises, and of course when necessary, gun battles. Great graphics, an intricate and dark story, loads of polish, and a good reward hook means that you should very much find yourself trying levels over and over again, attempting to better your score with each and every go! Sadly, I’m not all that fond of stealth games, but despite even this, I have to say that Hitman: Absolution came very close to winning me over to the genre.
Featuring Avatar FameStar! Go all-in with Full House Poker! Play Texas Hold ‘Em against your friends and thousands of players worldwide, and bring your personality to the table with unique tells and unlockables galore. Save your player progression and winnings between sessions as you increase the stakes and make your mark as a Full House Poker pro!
It’s an online poker game that happens to be rather cutesy in its presentation thanks to the fact that your XBOX avatar is the star of the show. Still, it’s a poker game. Which means if you like playing poker online (I don’t), then this could work for you. If not, rather grab a group of friends and a pack or two of cards. Much more fun in real life quite frankly.
Developed in collaboration with the television series from Starz, Spartacus Legends invites you to experience raw, visceral combat using multiple fighting styles and thousands of different weapon combinations. Follow your gladiator’s journey through multiple arenas and watch as they strive to reach legendary fame, or meet death at the hands of another. Compete with friends online and see if you have what it takes to kill them all.
Spartacus Legends is a freemium model game, and as such allows you to either compete by grinding it out, or by splashing out some real world cash in order to quickly gain access to better fighting togs. It’s a pretty simple one on one fighter, but it is nicely implemented, even if the graphics aren’t all that spectacular. Plus, it is pretty fun trying to kill off your online opponents gladiator, though the reverse is rather painful. If your gladiator is killed then you kind of need to go and build a new hero.
The world has ended. There is no hope. No new beginning. Only the survivors. Deadlight follows the journey of Randall Wayne, a man searching for his family across Seattle during the aftermath of a 1980s event that has decimated life on earth. This visually stunning Cinematic Survival Platformer will challenge you to run, jump, climb, and struggle for your life as you look for answers and the ones you love.
Yup, as the description states, this is a classic side-scrolling platformer, but pumped up with a beautiful visual style and a very cinematic story/feel to it. That said, at the heart this is still a zombie/survival game, and as you know, I’m not a great fan of the genre. So in other words, can’t say I played a lot of this one in the end.
Legendary game designer Sid Meier brings the greatest strategy game of all time to the Xbox 360 console! Built from the ground up for the Xbox 360 console, Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution challenges you to lead your chosen nation from the dawn of man to the space age on your quest to rule the world. Go head to head with history’s greatest leaders as you wage war, conduct diplomacy, discover new technologies and build the most powerful empire the world has ever known.
Growing up, I thoroughly enjoyed playing the Civilization series on my PC. That said, this type of game really doesn’t translate well to a console controller, and as such, I just really couldn’t get into it. At all. (In other words, I didn’t spend very much time actually playing this one then).
The Cold War is decided when ’80s era action toys come alive and wage war! Toy Soldiers: Cold War blends intense first person combat with addictive action strategy, whether you’re scrapping solo or jumping into the fray with friends.
Yeah, this one didn’t really grab me. You set up your various types of turrets, get ready to go, and then start protecting against wave after wave of attack. You can jump into first person mode to control your turrets, and sometimes take control over a vehicle or a commando to run around and inflict even more damage. Honestly though, these are just toys, and as such, just really doesn’t offer all that much charm for an older gamer like myself. Pass.
For Max Payne, the tragedies that took his loved ones years ago are wounds that refuse to heal. No longer a cop, close to washed up and addicted to pain killers, Max takes a job in São Paulo, Brazil, protecting the family of wealthy real estate mogul Rodrigo Branco, in an effort to finally escape his troubled past. But as events spiral out of his control, Max Payne finds himself alone on the streets of an unfamiliar city, desperately searching for the truth and fighting for a way out.
Damn it, Max Payne, despite a really silly name, remains as awesome as ever. A fantastically well told story that takes you on a very dark, but very satisfying path is combined with the trademark bullet time gun action that has been a hallmark of the Max Payne series from the very beginning. Lots and lots of shooting, fantastic visuals, and a simply brilliant implementation (with polish) makes this a game I seriously enjoyed working through!
Dead Island Riptide takes players to the island of Palanai on the Banoi archipelago, infested with bloodthirsty Zombies and only a few remaining Survivors still fighting for their lives.
Yup, it is a first person zombie survival game, which means plenty of creepy scares, knocking things over the head when the going gets tough, and running around trying to stay alive. It’s best played as a multiplayer experience, but to be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of survival games, and I’m also not the biggest fan of zombie games, which means I genuinely didn’t enjoy this one then.
Tomb Raider is back, though this time Lara and her new Mayan partner Totec have got plenty of puzzles to solve and platforming to perform in order to defeat the evil spirit Xolotl and make it through these ancient tombs alive!
An isometric view, co-op platformer that is surprisingly fun to play with a partner, as it has you running around like a mad thing, solving varied platform-related problems and puzzles, and trading intense fire and explosive blasts with a host of nasties. A very different Tomb Raider experience, that’s for sure, but an enjoyable Arcade romp nonetheless!
I don’t really feel like typing up reviews any more, and in truth, I haven’t been doing so for a while. However, I do like coming back every couple of years to see if my thoughts on a particular movie or television show has subsequently changed (like how I found Love Hina hilarious the first time I watched it and then atrocious the subsequent time I tried to rewatch it), hence this quick capsule reviews.
The second season, Book Two: Spirits, is set six months after the events of the first season, with Korra learning that restless spirits called Dark Spirits have been terrorizing the south seas. Feeling that she can not learn to calm the Dark Spirits through Tenzin, Korra turns to her uncle Unalaq, the Northern Water Tribe chief, for guidance. However, as civil war among the Water Tribe branches erupts from the Northern Tribe’s forced occupancy, Korra learns that the exile of her father Tonraq was arranged by Unalaq who is using her to achieve his own agenda. Which now means that Korra and her comrades will have to unite once more in order to put a stop to whatever it is that Unalaq is putting in motion!
As with the first season, I absolutely loved this second helping of the Legend of Korra. Fantastic animation and backdrops complement an intricately woven story that carries the right amounts of drama, action and of course humour when necessary. It’s a great blend of elements that then combines well with a fantastic voice cast and soundtrack, making for a very polished, and very enjoyable animated television show.
When time travel allows a past wrong to be righted for The Flash and his family, the ripples of the event prove disastrous as a fractured, alternate reality now exists where a Justice League never formed, and even Superman is nowhere to be found. Teaming with a grittier, more violent Dark Knight and Cyborg, Flash races to restore the continuity of his original timeline while this new world is ravaged by a fierce war between Wonder Woman’s Amazons and Aquaman’s Atlanteans.
Another hit addition to the DC Original Animated Movie stable, The Flashpoint Paradox is a slick and polished animated film with high production values, featuring a great story (loads of action, surprise character reveals, and plenty of drama), an excellent score and fantastic voice acting. I thoroughly enjoyed this animated outing and will definitely watch it again in the near future.
Jeff Winger and most of the old study group find themselves back at Greendale, after failing to have made the cut in the real world following their graduation. Now on the committee to save Greendale from the various problems that always seem to land at its doorstep, the gang is at again as if they had never left… (though with one or two new faces thrown into the mix, mind you)
So the good news is that Dan Harmon is back. The bad news is that Community should probably not have returned after the third season. They continue to do the same thing over and over again, this time with a slightly tweaked cast, and to be honest, the humour is now very much stale. There is only so much that you can rely on meta-humor and pop culture references in order to make your show funny, and unfortunately this limit feels as very much as it has long since been reached. It’s a pity really to watch this show fizzle out just as much as it has. (Sigh, and to think I absolutely adored the first two seasons of it…)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a comedy television series set in New York, telling the story of a group of detectives in the Nine-Nine Precinct. With a new, by the book, Captain to please, these detectives should probably get themselves back into line – though to be fair, that’s not really how they do things in this particular precinct…
Definitely one of our favourite comedy television shows to sit down to at the moment, the acting team of Andy Samberg, Terry Crews, Andre Braugher, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio and Chelsea Peretti do a fantastic job of bringing to life some very funny scripts, and with some clever writing and decent plotting to boot, it is no wonder that Chantelle and I can’t wait for the second season to come rolling in!
A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.
It is always a bad sign when you are forced to watch a movie over two sittings, and then fall asleep during both sessions. Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel is unfortunately a prime example of a comic book movie that just fails to have any real substance, in fact, making it par for the course when it comes to live action Superman films of recent years. Although the visuals and action sequences are stunning, the character development is non existent and thus one’s emotional attachment to the story is just not where it should be. It is a polished production to be sure, but I just didn’t like it, and the fact that they did a very un-Superman-like thing at the end did just enough for me to simply not have enjoyed the experience. Quite a pity really.
This is a compilation disc pulling together episodes from Superman: The Animated Series (10 stories), plus 3 Superman-centric episodes of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Everything is Darkseid and Apokolips based, meaning that naturally there is no surprise as to the flavour of the villain of the day for all the various stories.
Nevertheless, it is a good trip down memory lane if you haven’t seen any of the classic DC animated universe stuff for a long time, and pleasingly the quality of the story telling remains right up there. That said, chances of you not having seen this material before is pretty slim, and if by chance you haven’t in fact seen these before, then honestly you’d be better off purchasing the series DVD releases instead, because obviously they give more variety in the stories being told. Still, I did enjoy seeing these again…
In a futuristic city, people born with super abilities train to be Heroes, sponsored do-gooders that protect the city and fight crime for points, all in front of a cheering television audience. One of the older heroes, old fashioned, clumsy but with a will of steel, Wild Tiger is about to be assigned a brand new partner – the calculating and efficient Barnaby Brooks Jr. The thing is, Barnaby Brooks Jr. brings somewhat of a history with him – and its a mystery which both he and the old man will have to work together on in order to solve!
This is a difficult one. I’m a bit off anime these days, but I have to admit that overall I really did enjoy this show, despite its sometime over the top goofiness and silliness that at times threatened to derail the seriousness and drama of the story being told. The animation is a good blend of traditional and CG, and the action sequences are well choreographed, particularly the various fight scenes. However, the character models are sometimes a little too goofy for my liking. It’s an action ability-powered hero story at the heart of it all, and as such, delivers on the points that it is expected to, thus making for a watchable and relatively fun show at the end of the day. That said, I can’t ever see myself re-watching it any time in the near future…
An events co-ordination company executive goes in search of the nostalgic Boet and Swaer from the old Castrol ads to lure them to a big gala event at Emperor’s Palace. What follows is a road trip of misadventure, fueled of course by copious amounts of alcohol – the good old fashioned South African way!
I hate to say it, but the trailer for this movie is what reeled me in – I definitely thought it could be funny and a bit of a trip down memory lane to see a movie revolving around old South African television adverts that used to air when I was growing up. Sadly, that was not the case, and this time around, the trailer is by far better than the movie itself. It’s not very funny, Jack Parow is really not an actor, and in short, I should probably just have picked up a Hollywood blockbuster instead. Still, I did rather enjoy the very cool South African soundtrack that accompanied this rather limp script…
I’m not really into watching television or movies any more to be quite honest, and my love of animated things has dwindled to the point where I can’t even be bothered to sit down and enjoy simply superhero-themed kids’ show at all.
That said, with a little 3 year old girl in the house, I certainly caught up on a lot of the big screen animated movie releases from the houses of Pixar, Disney and DreamWorks over the holiday period – from the comfort of my couch and with a little body tucked in tightly next me.
As for this litter of capsule reviews coming right up? Well, I kind of like coming back every now and then to check up as to how my enjoyment/appreciation of any given piece of entertainment may have changed over time…
Rapunzel is a girl with insanely long, magical-imbued hair who just happens to be trapped in a tower thanks to a rather overprotective ‘mom’. Of course, as any rebellious teenager would do, when the charming thief on the run, Flynn Rider, ducks in to escape his pursuers, Rapunzel seizes the opportunity to join up with Flynn and break free from the confines of the tower – the result of which leads to one very epic adventure that just happens to end with the returning of joy to an entire island kingdom!
Long story short, I simply can’t fault this film on any level whatsoever. It is astoundingly pretty and well animated, it is truly funny, dives through a deep and drama filled story, has fantastic action sequences, features brilliant voice actors and a polished soundtrack, and at the end of it all, is just the perfect kids animated movie – pitched perfectly for both young and old to enjoy. Seriously love watching this with my little ones!
A film star pup who is incredibly protective over his human girl, manages to get separated from the film studio and is now forced to travel back thousands of miles to reunite with his missing owner. Only problem is, this dog happens to think he is something of a super canine thanks to having been completely cocooned in his make believe world – something which definitely spells trouble for his new found travelling companions!
Bolt is a wonderfully animated kids movie that is impossible not to like. It is a great story of friendship and loyalty, and features some truly funny and touching moments. It is endearing, slickly animated, and well voiced, all backed up with a great soundtrack and a really fun character cast. I have to say, it is a hit with the kids, and it is certainly one of those animated movies that I don’t have any problem sitting down and enjoying with them.
James Sullivan and Mike Wazowski are monsters, they earn their living scaring children (their fearful screams are what powers Monster City) and are the best in the business… even though they’re more afraid of the children than they are of them. When a child accidentally enters their world, James and Mike suddenly find that kids are not to be afraid of – and they uncover a conspiracy that could just threaten all children across the world.
Without a doubt, one of the classics to emerge from the powerhouse that is Pixar animation. It is a superbly well told and heartfelt story, that doubles down on the humour, drama and action all at once. Pleasingly, it holds up well more than ten years later, and quite frankly, remains a pleasure to watch for both young and old!
When Susan Murphy is unwittingly clobbered by a meteor full of outer space gunk on her wedding day, she mysteriously grows to 49-feet-11-inches tall. Naturally, the military jumps into action and hauls her away to a covert government compound where she is renamed Ginormica and placed in confinement with a ragtag group of monsters… which is just as well because Aliens are about to knock on Earth’s door!
Monsters vs. Aliens is a surprisingly enjoyable romp that sees well, monsters going up against aliens. The story is funny and naturally includes tons of action sequences, making it particularly enjoyable for all the boys sitting at home. That said, there is enough there for adults to feed on as well, meaning that this isn’t the worse way you can spend your time watching television with the kids.
Brave is set in the mystical Scottish Highlands, where Mérida is the princess of a kingdom ruled by King Fergus and Queen Elinor. An unruly daughter and an accomplished archer, Mérida one day defies a sacred custom of the land (she doesn’t want to be married off) and inadvertently brings turmoil to the kingdom. In an attempt to smooth things over, Mérida seeks out an eccentric old woman (who happens to be a witch) and is granted an ill-fated wish. A very ill-fated (and bear-related) wish!
Brave is something very different when it comes to CG animated movies, but that in itself is refreshing. It is a story about learning to take responsibility for one’s actions, and along the way to teaching this lesson, the film enthralls with its marvelous backdrops, action sequences and enchanting musical score. I don’t think it works quite so well for the younger kids, but for the older guys as well as the folks – well let’s just say that both I and Chantelle quite enjoyed the experience. (Plus, it really wasn’t what we were expecting).
Po is now living his dream as The Dragon Warior, protecting the Valley of Peace alongside his friends and fellow kung fu masters, The Furious Five – Tigress, Crane, Mantis, Viper and Monkey. But Po’s new life of awesomeness is threatened by the emergence of a formidable villain, who plans to use a secret, unstoppable weapon to conquer China and destroy kung fu. It is up to Po and The Furious Five to journey across China to face this threat and vanquish it. But how can Po stop a weapon that can stop kung fu?
I’m a big fan of the original Kung Fu Panda, and sadly, this second outing of everyone’s favourite Kung Fu Panda Bear isn’t quite as awesome as the first, primarily because (as with pretty much all sequels) it has now lost the original charm of the lovable and silly incompetent panda bear succeeding against great odds – this time around we kind of expect him to succeed because he has already proven that he can. Never the less, it is still an enjoyable action romp that is brimming with silliness and high octane adventure. The boys will definitely love this one, that’s for sure.
I’m not really into spending time collecting my thoughts in the form of movie, gaming, television reviews any more, but that said, I do like coming back three of four years later to see just how my enjoyment/appreciation of any given piece may have changed over time.
Hence these little capsule reviews of things I’ve watched over the last few months.
Civil War vet John Carter is transplanted to Mars, where he discovers a lush, wildly diverse planet whose main inhabitants are 12-foot tall green barbarians. Finding himself a prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, who is in desperate need of a savior.
I have to say, I enjoyed this otherworldly sci-fi action film literally from start to finish. Great actors, great action sequences, wondrous worlds and a truly enjoyable story + ending means that I can’t help but give a solid thumbs up for this polished epic.
When the powerful Darkseid and his massive, relentless forces invade Earth, a group of previously unaligned super heroes – misunderstood and, in some cases, hunted by the authorities – discover that the only way to fend off the attack will be to work together as a cohesive unit. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Shazam! and, in his origin story, Cyborg combine their respective talents in an all-out battle to save the planet.
The animation is slick and superb, the voice acting is perfect, and the action is perfect comic book action. The New 52 angle means a fresh look at some tired faces, and quite frankly, everything just works in this over the top, enjoyable, and action-packed Justice League animated movie hit!
With Lex Luthor granted the power to go back in time and eliminate the Justice League before it was even started, it is left up to young heroes of the 31st century, Dawnstar and Karate Kid to travel back in time and try and fix this disaster they accidentally unleashed – before all the timelines are completely altered beyond repair!
This is a standalone direct to video film that doesn’t form part of the current DC Animated Original Movies stable, the reason being that it is pitched at the slightly younger viewer and as such the story comes with a strong moral motivation attached to it. I’m not the primary audience and as such can’t say I really enjoyed it, even if there isn’t really any wrong with it per say. That said, the fact that the primary Leaguers aren’t the stars of the show here, might just hurt it as well.
Giant monsters arise from the deep and threaten to overrun the world. Earth’s only defense are the gigantic fighting mecha known as Jaegers. But after years of slugging it out, the Jaegers have all but fallen, and the monster Kaiju appear to be increasing in number and strength!
An absolute visual feast, there is no other way of describing this epic sci-fi monster versus mecha slobber knocker. It’s a great film from start to finish, loads of action and drama, plus a satisfying storyline even if the majority of the international Jaegers get so little screen time! Excellent acting and a fantastic soundtrack makes for a very polished film outing which I thoroughly enjoyed!
God of Thunder Thor finds himself disobeying Odin one too many times, and as a result, is punished by being banished to Midgard (Earth) for his disobedience to the All Father. However, this perfectly orchestrated play by the Trickster Loki, is exactly the opening he has been waiting for – and his allies the Frost Giants at his side, the play is made to make Asgard his once and for all!
This movie couldn’t have been better cast quite frankly, with the characters and actors all being perfectly matched up. Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Tom Hiddleston as Loki are literally perfect, and in the end, so is the movie. This is a fantastic comic book movie done right, with a larger than life story, mind-blowing visual affects, and just the perfect amount of drama and fantasy action. Comic book movie perfection in other words!
A malevolent evil spirit is awakened, and bonded with the hapless Jane Foster. This in turn awakens the Dark Elf Malekith, and with him comes a renewed attempt to take down Odin and Asgard with him. With Jane now under Asgard’s protection, Thor is forced to team up with his imprisoned brother Loki if there is any hope of stopping Malekith’s overwhelming forces – and the immense power of the Aether!
Following on from the slick and thoroughly enjoyable first Thor movie, this second outing pretty much continues where the original left off. Once again the actors are perfect, and in turn, the story is a perfect fantasy comic book yarn, with big stakes, plenty of action, and not to mention more than a little drama to go around. Great soundtrack, superb visuals, this is yet again another comic book film done right!
An old acquaintance sends word from Japan that he is on his deathbed and as such would like to personally thank and say farewell to Logan. Of course things are never quite so cut and dry for the Wolverine, who soon finds himself leaving his self-imposed exile, travelling to Japan, and embroiled in the middle of a fierce battle over the daughter of a powerful and rich family. A life that needless to say he feels responsible for and must save, no matter the cost!
The first standalone Wolverine movie (X-Men Origins: Wolverine ) was quite frankly horrible. Pleasingly, this time around it is much, much better. Hugh Jackman has without a doubt grown much more into his Wolverine persona, and with a drama-filled story that features exotic locales, ninjas, yakuza and not to mention exhilarating (and bloody) action sequences, The Wolverine ends up being a fantastic comic book movie. It is ever so slightly too long, but that isn’t a complete deal breaker for me, and in the end I seriously enjoyed it – which is great, because the X-Men family of movies really does need a bit of a boost in my book (based purely on how bad they look compared to the awesome current crop of Marvel Universe releases!)
Gary King and the lads are all grown up these days, well everyone but Gary King that is. A man with a lot of personal problems to deal with but with no concept of responsibility anyway, rounds up the old gang for the sole purpose of completing a pub crawl they failed to complete as lads. The final target of the 12 pub crawl being the renowned World’s End. Unfortunately for the group though, they’re about to find out first hand that something downright alien is going on in their old stomping grounds…
Rounding out the so-called Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End), this is another Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost collaboration and thus blends the same everyday life and drama with some completely over the top twists and then some completely over the top action sequences. As expected, the film is slickly done and well put together, the twist is over the top – as expected, and to be honest, it really does fit in as another installment of the Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz puzzle. In other words, if you liked those, then you’ll like this one. As for me, it wasn’t horrible, I did laugh occasionally, but I can’t say I necessarily walked away having enjoyed it.