Huge Year For Microsoft Games…

March sees Microsoft New Zealand celebrate the X-Box 360’s first birthday, and what better way to celebrate then to release a whole host of new games over the rest of the year…

Fuzion Frenzy 2 | 2nd March
Fuzion Frenzy 2 combines over 40 mini games with futuristic arcade action, custom tournaments, Xbox Live features and more to create the ultimate party game exclusively on Xbox 360. Play with your friends and family to find out who is the strongest among you.

Until four years ago, Fuzion Frenzy was the most popular tournament on Earth and was broadcast live to all corners of the world. However, due to the extreme competitiveness of the players, the leaders of Earth banned it, fearing its influence on the general population.

Recently, however, the world’s leaders have struggled with the problem of overpopulation, and have come up with a plan for the citizens of Earth to immigrate to space. To encourage immigration, the leaders have brought back the Fuzion Frenzy tournament, but with a change—they have set up game zones on various other planets. The people of Earth welcome this news, especially the announcement that the leaders have reinstated the six most famous players, who are returning with renewed enthusiasm!
Mass Effect | 3rd May (Estimated date.)
Mass Effect is a science fiction action-RPG created by BioWare Corp., the commercially and critically acclaimed RPG developer of "Jade Empire," "Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic," "Neverwinter Nights," and the "Baldur's Gate" series. "Mass Effect" will deliver an immersive story driven gameplay experience with stunning visual fidelity. Published by Microsoft Game Studios, "Mass Effect" will be exclusively for the Xbox 360 video game system.

As the first human Specter – sworn defenders of galactic peace – your mission is to halt the advancing armies of a legendary agent gone rogue. But as you lead your elite team across hostile alien worlds, you will discover the true threat is far greater than anyone imagined.
Too Human | 1st June (Estimated Date)
Step into the world of “Too Human,” the next-generation third-person epic action game from renowned Canadian developer Silicon Knights. As the cybernetic god Baldur, you are thrust into the midst of an ongoing battle that threatens the existence of mankind. An ancient machine presence has forced the god’s hand. In the first part of a trilogy, Baldur is charged with defending humanity from an onslaught of monstrous war machines bent on the eradication of human life.

In “Too Human,” players are treated to a nonstop barrage of action powered by the seamless integration of melee and ranged firearms combat and fueled by breathtaking visuals enabled by the powerful combination of Xbox 360 and the Unreal Engine 3. Battles unfold in awesome scale as players engage with vast numbers of enemies. Gamers take it to the next level by playing the entire single-player campaign in multiplayer co-op mode via Xbox Live® or system link.

“Too Human” is produced by Silicon Knights, which brings a wealth of knowledge, story-based design and gameplay expertise to the next generation of video gaming.
Forza Motorsport 2 | 1st June (Estimated Date)
“Forza Motorsport 2,” the sequel to Microsoft Game Studios’ award-winning, fully customizable driving simulator “Forza Motorsport,” speeds its way onto Xbox 360 this holiday. With authentic simulation physics, bone-jarring damage, photo-realistic graphics, and licensed tuning and customization options, the franchise improves on the unprecedented features gamers enjoyed in its debut installment. Loaded with more than 300 of the world’s hottest cars for you to collect, personalize and tune, “Forza Motorsport 2” gives you a complete racing experience.
Shadowrun | 28th July (Estimated Date)
FASA Studio, the creative minds behind “MechWarrior” and “Crimson Skies,” are back with “Shadowrun,” the new multiplayer first-person shooter (FPS) based on the much-beloved role-playing game (RPG) franchise. “Shadowrun” propels team-based combat into a new dimension with a revolutionary blend of modern weaponry and ancient magic. Up to 16 players can battle for control of this new world through Xbox 360-to-Windows Vista online compatibility. In “Shadowrun” players vie for supremacy in a constantly evolving battlefield where advanced technology and ancient magic provide an unprecedented and high-velocity tactical action experience.Alan Wake | 19th October (Estimated Date)
Alan Wake is a psychological action thriller, a unique new take in the world of gaming. The game is set in an idyllic all-American small town and its surroundings in the state of Washington. Alan Wake, the game's protagonist, is a bestselling horror writer, who writes a novel about his darkest nightmares. In the game, those nightmares come true.

The game features a massive, open world for the players to explore. The game design is mission based with the player as the driving force behind the action, and as with their previous games, Remedy again focuses completely on delivering the best possible single player experience.Halo 3 | 31st October (Estimated Date)
The epic saga continues with Halo 3, the hugely anticipated sequel to the highly successful and critically acclaimed Halo franchise. In this third chapter of the Halo trilogy, Master Chief returns to finish the fight, bringing the epic conflict between the Covenant, the Flood, and the entire human race to a dramatic, pulse-pounding climax.

Halo 3 represents the third chapter in the Halo trilogy—an international award-winning action series that grew into a global entertainment phenomenon, selling more than 14.5 million units worldwide, logging more than 650 million hours of multiplayer action on Xbox Live, and spawning action figures, books, a graphic novel, apparel, an upcoming film adaptation, and more.


Rating: M – Contains Sex Scenes & Offensive Language.
Duration: 96 mins.
Genre: Drama.
Actors: Anthony Hopkins, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hope Davis, Jake Gyllenhaal, Roshan Seth, Gary Houston, Tobiasz Daszkiewicz.
Director: John Madden.
Release Date: Available Now.

Sheer brilliance. That’s how I would like to sum up Proof, but that in its self wouldn’t make for a very good review.

A film adaptation of David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize-winng play, Proof follows the downward slide into mental instability of Catherine, a 27 year old daughter of a brilliant mathematician, whose recent departure form this life has left her with an unfinished equation, both mathematical and emotional.

Her father’s life - played with consummate greatness by Anthony Hopkins through a series of flashbacks and imagined interactions - ended slowly, with his own decline into madness, leaving Catherine to carry on alone.

Throw in Hal, a student who was being mentored by Catherine’s father as the love interest, and things get even more interesting as Catherine’s paranoia kicks in as to what Hal’s motives are.

Further complications arise as Catherine seems to be losing grip on reality and starts to make outrageous claims about everyone around her, forcing her sister in New York to try and encourage her into a facility near where she lives.

Neither a huge action spectacular, nor an edge of your seats thriller, but what proof does have, it has in spades: A great story, and absolutely fantastic acting.

Jake Gyllenhaal is truly lovable as Hal, whose genuine love for Catherine offers the only real stability for the characters of the movie, and Gwyneth Paltrow as Catherine digs real deep into her abilities and pulls off a mesmerising performance that brings focus to the story and overriding theme of the inseparable closeness of insanity and genius.

Food for thought:
Are people really insane just because they don’t conform to societies acceptable norms?

Rent or Buy?
Buy it, it’s a true masterpiece.

Oscar, The Chosen Few

Best Picture:
The Departed
Letters From Iwo Jima
Little Miss Sunshine
The Queen

Martin Scorsese, The Departed
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Babel
Clint Eastwood, Letters From Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears, The Queen
Paul Greengrass, United 93

Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland
Leonardo DiCaprio, Blood Diamond
Ryan Gosling, Half Nelson
Peter O'Toole, Venus
Will Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness

Helen Mirren, The Queen
Penelope Cruz, Volver
Judi Dench, Notes on a Scandal
Meryl Streep, The Devil Wears Prada
Kate Winslet, Little Children

Film Editing:
The Departed
Blood Diamond
Children of Men
United 93

Original Song:
I Need to Wake Up from An Inconvenient Truth, Melissa Etheridge
Listen from Dreamgirls, Henry Krieger, Scott Cutler and Anne Preven
Love You I Do from Dreamgirls, Henry Krieger and Siedah Garrett
Our Town from Cars, Randy Newman
Patience from Dreamgirls, Henry Krieger and Willie Reale

Original Screenplay:
Michael Arndt, Little Miss Sunshine
Guillermo Arriaga, Babel
Iris Yamashita and Paul Haggis, Letters From Iwo Jima
Guillermo del Toro, Pan's Labyrinth
Peter Morgan, The Queen

Original Score:
Babel, Gustavo Santaolalla
The Good German, Thomas Newman
Notes on a Scandal, Philip Glass
Pan's Labyrinth, Javier Navarrete
The Queen, Alexandre Desplat

Documentary Feature:
An Inconvenient Truth
Deliver Us From Evil
Iraq in Fragments
Jesus Camp
My Country, My Country

Documentary (short subject):
The Blood of Yingzhou District
Recycled Life
Rehearsing a Dream
Two Hands

Supporting Actress:
Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls
Adriana Barraza, Babel
Cate Blanchett, Notes on a Scandal
Abigail Breslin, Little Miss Sunshine
Rinko Kikuchi, Babel

Foreign Language Film:
The Lives of Others, Germany
After the Wedding, Denmark
Days of Glory (Indigenes), Algeria
Pan's Labyrinth, Mexico
Water, Canada

Visual Effects:
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Superman Returns

Pan's Labyrinth
The Black Dahlia
Children of Men
The Illusionist
The Prestige

Marie Antoinette
Curse of the Golden Flower
The Devil Wears Prada
The Queen

Adapted Screenplay:
William Monahan, The Departed
Sacha Baron Cohen and Anthony Hines and Peter Baynham and Dan Mazer and Todd Phillips, Borat Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Alfonso Cuaron and Timothy J Sexton and David Arata and Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, Children of Men
Todd Field and Tom Perrotta, Little Children
Patrick Marber, Notes on a Scandal

Animated Feature Film:
Happy Feet
Monster House

Supporting Actor:
Alan Arkin, Little Miss Sunshine
Jackie Earle Haley, Little Children
Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond
Eddie Murphy, Dreamgirls
Mark Wahlberg, The Departed

Sound Mixing:
Blood Diamond
Flags of Our Fathers
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Sound Editing:
Letters From Iwo Jima
Blood Diamond
Flags of Our Fathers
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Live Action Short Film:
West Bank Story
Binta and the Great Idea (Binta Y La Gran Idea)
Eramos Pocos (One Too Many)
Helmer & Son
The Saviour

Animated Short Film:
The Danish Poet
The Little Matchgirl
No Time for Nuts

Pan's Labyrinth

Art Direction:
Pan's Labyrinth
The Good Shepherd
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
The Prestige

Oscar, Apparently...

The stars have started to trickle down the red carpet at the Kodak Theater, and pretty soon the awards will start to be given out, followed by big, boring speeches.

I'll try and keep y'all updated, but don't hold your breath, I'll probably go home before any of the big ones are announced and forget all about Oscar until I read about it tomorrow...

Happy Feet: Best Animated Feature Film.

Pan's Labyrinth: Best Art Direction and Best Make-up.

Alan Arkin: Best Supporting Actor for Little Miss Sunshine.

Letters from Iwo Jima: Best Sound Editing.

Dreamgirls: Best Sound Mixing.

West Bank Story: Best Live Action Short Film.

The Danish Poet: Best Animated Short Film.

And that's all folks, as I'm heading off home!

Snakes on a Plane

Rating: M – Contains Violence, Offensive Language & Sex Scenes.
Duration: 105 mins.
Genre: Suspense & Thriller.
Actors: Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Blanchard, Kenan Thompson, Byron Lawson, Flex Alexander.
Director: David R. Ellis.
Release Date: Available Now.

The people who complained about Snakes on a Plane obviously need to get their heads checked. I mean look at the title of the movie; Snakes on a Plane! What? You were expecting a take-me-seriously type of hight altitude thriller along the lines of Flightplan?

Forget it. This is a kick back to B-grade thrillers, back when Hollywood was all about fun. This is a movie along the lines of Slither, but with better actors.

Snakes on a Plane knows not to take it’s self seriously, It’s a movie about assassinating someone by filling the domestic flight that they are on with poisonous snakes.

If you don’t think the title and the concept is cool in a that’s-so-bad-it’s-bound-to-be-funny way, then stay away.

If you a slightly irreverent sense of humour and a brain that can be left behind when watching movies, then Snakes is for you!

Samuel L. Jackson switches between his bad-arse look, and trademark bellow with ease, driving this story with his sheer presence.

Yes, it’s a safe bet to say if you don’t like Mr Jackson, you won’t like this movie.

Other familiar faces, mainly from TV, manage to keep straight faces and compliment the deadpan humour that pervades the plane.

Cellular’s Director David R. Ellis keeps the action moving along at speed, never really relenting until the credits, and the special effects, whilst at times a little that’s-so-obviously-fake looking, are good enough to keep everything ticking, and the snake cam is sheer brilliance, especially as it is used with restraint.

Food for thought:
Is laughter really the best medicine?

Rent or Buy?
Buy it, it’s another Samuel L. Jackson classic.

Video Games Don't Make You Violent!

According to a new study by a researcher at Texas A&M International University, studies that see a connection between video games and violent behavior usually suffer from shoddy research techniques. Dr. Christopher Ferguson studied the results of a number of recent studies linking violent video games to aggressive behavior with an eye not just to individual results, but also to overall trends in the studies as a whole.

Ferguson found that the connection between violence and gaming had more to do with publication bias than it did with any actual correlation. In other words, journals were more likely to publish studies that supported the hypothesis that playing violent games made a subject more prone to violent behavior. Nothing like scientific stacking the deck, eh? Ferguson sums it up nicely:

Thus it was concluded that there is little evidence from the current body of literature on violent video games that playing violent video games is either causally or correlationally associated with increases in aggressive behavior.

Wow, so playing violent video games isn't bad anymore?

SOURCE | Wired

Battlestations: Midway

Rating: M - Suitable for mature audiences 16 years and over.
Contains violence.
Genre: World War Two, Action, Strategy.
Developer: Atari.
Release Date: February 22nd.

It’s December 7th, 1941 and you’re on a PT Boat heading through the peaceful harbour waters on your way to battleship row, peacefull that is until all hell breaks loose.

Caught in the middle of Japan’s surprise attack, you have to help fend off wave after wave of aerial attacks, and then, when it seems like you only just survived you spot the unmistakable signs of a submarine prowling the waters, looking for a target that the plans missed.

That’s right, it’s sub-hunting time, and after her you go, armed with a limited supply of depth charges.

A baptism of fire Pearl Harbour may have been, but its nothing compared to what awaits you in Battlestations Midway. This is no world war two themed arcade game, this is an all encompassing action/strategy campaign for domination of the Pacific.

The early missions are really only training – though they don’t fell like training, but in war, everything is training – for the later missions when you have to really engage your brain, reflexes and skills to win battles.

So treat these early missions with respect, because the skills you learn being in control of only one aircraft/ship/submarine at a time will be invaluable later on when you have to manage an entire carrier group at Midway.

So an all-encompassing game can only excel at one thing, and with something this big, that thing would have to be strategy, right?


Battlestations Midway seems to get everything right. The aircraft handle like you would expect aircraft to handle in a flight combat game, the surface vessels respond how you’d expect them to handle in a battleship game, and the subs handle, well you get the picture.

So on the one hand you could look at this as three games in one, and in fact the options you get at the start menu reflect this. You can opt to jump straight into the American Pacific campaign, or try you had and some flying missions, battleship missions or submarine missions.

But it’s the campaign mode that really gets the grey matter going, as the strategy is the glue that binds all the individual components together into one mammoth experience.

Graphically, with everything that’s going on, I was expecting a below par look to the game, but in true 360 style, the graphics are awesome, with beautiful explosions and smoke effects, right down to destructible buildings on the islands, through to the liquid oceans and the water splashes on the screen when you fly too close to the water.

It’s mind numbingly awesome.

Of course there is a down side. No game is ever going to be perfect, and Battlestation Midway’s best feature is also it’ achilles’ heel. The sheer amount of gameplay means that there is some steep learning curves, and this can take time to master.

Now to a lot of people this wont seem like much of an achilles’ heel, but if you’re looking for a quick game, that isn’t going to tax your brain much, and give you non-stop carnage, then you might w ant to look else where. If, however, you want to experience warfare it it’s realest form, then look no further.

Rent or buy?
Buy it, you’ll be playing this one for some time.


Rating: R16 – Contains Violence, Offensive Language & Horror.
Duration: 96 mins.
Genre: Horror.
Actors: Gregg Henry, Michael Rooker, Elizabeth Banks, Nathan Fillion, Jenna Fischer, Don Thompson.
Director: James Gunn.
Release Date: Available Now.

Slither is one of those movies that you’ll either get, or you wont.

Classified as a horror, and from the penmanship of James Gunn who wrote the fantastic re-make of Dawn of the Dead, you might be expecting an edge of your seats thrill ride.

But Slither is more than just a horror. It’s a comedic homage to the over the top horrors of the ‘70s and ‘80s. It’s as much a horror movie as Shaun of the Dead was.

It’s a B-Grade masterpiece, with plenty of laughs, buckets of blood, unbelievably ridiculous mutated human/alien hybrids and a cast of so-bad-they’re-good actors.

The humour and homage’s are everywhere, but there’s something else about this movie that strikes the observant; there’s no Hollywood A-List actors here. Everyone looks normal, no one is striving for perfection – ok, so one or two might, but not the whole world – and there’s no gratuitous horror movie nudity.

In fact, in one scene a teenage girl is soaking in a bath when one of the alien slugs attack, and she wrestles with it, in and out of the bath. The perfect opportunity for the director to pleas legions of adolescent males, but he doesn’t. The scene is set up with a fanatical precision that not once to we see any of those often named ‘naughty’ parts of the body.

Clearly this is an exceptionally crafted movie, whose ability at mocking its own genre is carefully wrapped up in B-Grade packaging that not everyone will notice the genious.

The only thing I’m not sure of after watching Slither is Nathan Fillion’s ability to act, I might just have to re-watch Firefly and Serenity before I come to a conclusion. Either he sucks at acting, or he’s incredibly good at acting bad…

Food for thought:
Why do people in movies always do stupid things?

Rent or Buy?
Buy it, the its-so-bad-its-good factor will probably make Slither a cult classic.

Bones S1

Rating: M – Contains Violence.
Duration: 43 mins/episode.
Genre: Crime, Television Series.
Actors: David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel, Eric Millegan, Jonathan Adams, Michaela Conlin, T.J. Thyne.
Release Date: Available Now.

Bones never struck me as being a worthwhile watch on TV. The main channels were awash with some kind of forensic drama or another, what could one that focussed on looking at Bones really offer?

Especially when it stared that guy from Buffy!

Little did I know how ever that Bones had that near perfect mix of tight action, knife-edge suspense, humour and a huge dose of chemistry between the Buffy guy David Boreananz and the leading lady Emily Deschanel.

Oh, and a whole host of unique crimes to be solved, and an absolutely lovable supporting cast.

Of course you could be cynical and cut it back to it’s bare bones (pun intended) and say that it is the same as any other forensic drama; crime is committed, dead person is the only clue, experts figure out guilty party form said corpse.

But what sets Bones apart from every other show, is that whilst it does treat the crime and forensics seriously, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. David Boreananz looks like he’s having a whole heap of fun doing this show and it helps not only with the chemistry, but by offering a light relief to what could have been a very dark and brooding series.

Of course good television would be nothing without great source material, and Bones has that in spades too with the series being inspired by real-life forensic anthropologist and author Kathy Reichs.

All in all, television on DVD doesn’t come much better than Bones.

Food for thought:
Is there ever a perfect crime?

Rent or Buy?
Buy it, you’ll be hooked form episode 1.

The Break Up

Rating: M – Contains Offensive Language & Sexual References.
Duration: 102 mins.
Genre: Romantic Comedy.
Actors: Cole Hauser, Joey Lauren Adams, Jennifer Aniston, Vince Vaughn, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman.
Director: Peyton Reed.
Release Date: Available Now.

Most romantic comedies end when the couple finally get together. The Break Up is slightly different. The first 5 minutes is basically a montage of the romance, honeymoon period, settling into the drudgery, and then the movie really starts when the niggling annoyances start to raise their head.

Of course, this being Hollywood, you can’t have a stable relationship, though I guess a movie call Stable, about a couple who managed to work through all their problems might not be so funny.

Not that I’m saying that The Break Up is funny. Sure it has its moments, but it’s a story about two people growing apart. Not really a solid plot line for a romantic comedy.

Vince Vaugh plays a great guy who still has to grow up and realise that it’s not all about him, Jennifer Aniston does an ok job at being Jennifer Aniston.

Then there’s the supporting cast. I always seem to enjoy Cole Hauser, even though he, like Aniston tends to play the same character no matter who his character is.

But it’s this supporting cast who really carry the film, with their sometimes miss-guided and often conflicting advice.

Sadly The Break Up never seems to manage to extract itself from the funk of having a depressing storyline, and if you’re really looking for a romantic comedy, you’d do a lot better with something like Just Like Heaven.

Food for thought:
Why do some people seem to put more energy fighting each other rather than fighting to improve their relationship?

Rent or Buy?
Rent it, you won’t get any additional mileage out of this one.

United 93

Rating: M – Contains Violence & Offensive Language.
Duration: 110 mins.
Genre: Drama, Suspense & Thriller.
Actors: Polly Adams, Opal Alladin, Lewis Alsamari, Starla Benford, Gary Commock, Trish Gates, Cheyenne Jackson, J. J. Johnson, Nancy McDoniel.
Director: Paul Greengrass.
Release Date: Available Now.

To be honest, I wasn’t too fused about seeing United 93. I mean it’s a movie based mostly on conjecture. It’s also a movie about an incident that is so well known.

So conjecture and knowing what’s going to happen, what’s the point? It’s not going to have any tension, and it’s probably going to be overly patriotic.


But yawn it wasn’t, far from it. A gritty, edge of your seats human drama and suspense is what it turned out to be.

Paul Greengrass who’s only film of note prior to United 93 was the excellent The Bourne Ultimatum – not the type of movie you’d think would prepare him for United 93 – but rather than ramp up the action and glamorise the story, Greengrass treats the movie with a great deal of respect.

The film starts out following the terrorist from their hotel room to the boarding lounge.

Then we start flicking back and forth between air traffic control and the military, which is sheer brilliance. It’s amazing how much tension and pace Greengrass manages to squeeze out of a few rooms full of people, as they start to realise the scope of what is happening, and the confusion and desperation that follows.

It’s also amazingly emotional.

Then we switch to United 93 as the flight gets airborne and the terrorists get ready to move. The pace and emotion starts to abate at this point, but it’s the only real breather we get in the entire movie.

Once the terrorist do take control, your rest period is over as everything starts to tighten up again as the passengers talk to loved ones on their cell phones and start to discover and piece together what has been going on, and the realisation dawns on then that they are on a suicide flight.

Fear of death, and desperate to have a say in their destiny, the passengers decide to take action, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Relentless and gut wrenching, United 93 is as realistic portrayal as possible, whilst being down to earth. The cinematography is fantastic with a handheld feel it basically puts you right on the flight, amongst the passengers, and helps add to the emotional trauma.

Entertaining seems to be the wrong word for a movie like this, but it’s certainly not a movie that will afflict you with boredom.

One thing I will recommend is that you watch United 93: The Families and the Film, one of the special features. Here we get to see some of the interviews with the families of the passengers of United 93, and see some of the actors meeting family members and talking to them about the characters they are going to portray.

Food for thought:
Is it evil if you’re following what you believe to be right?

Rent or Buy?
Buy it, You’re sure to watch it again at some point.

Lady In The Water

Rating: PG – Contains Supernatural Themes.
Duration: 105 mins.
Genre: Suspense & Thriller, Fantasy, Supernatural Thriller.
Actors: Bob Balaban, Mary Beth Hurt, Sarita Choudhury, Jeffrey Wright, Paul Giamatti, Jared Harris, Freddy Rodríguez, Bill Irwin, M. Night Shyamalan, Bryce Dallas Howard.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan.
Release Date: Available Now.

‘I see dead people.’

The Sixth Sense had one of the most unexpected twists in modern movies, and it made M. Night Shyamalan and overnight success.

The biggest problem of course, was how does one follow a movie as good that? Shyamalan followed it up with Unbreakabled, Signs, The Village and now Lady in the Water.

All in my view, good, solid movies. But alas, most movie critics, and movie goers decided that Shyamalan was loosing his touch, that his movies didn’t have the pre-requisite mind blowing twist any more.

The problem is that Shyamalan seems to be evolving, growing as a filmmaker. The Village had a great twist, in reality it had several, but it also introduced a social commentary, and had an aspect of fantasy and folklore.

So we come to Lady in the Water, a different direction for Shyamalan. Rather than a twist in the movie, he looks to creating a modern mythological tale. A tale that brings hope for humanity; a humanity that has lost touch with innocence.

It’s this search for the re-awakening of innocence that gives Lady in the Water it’s charm. Of course, if you’re a hardened cynic, you’re going to miss the point, and that’s the point.

Brilliant storytelling that is lost on most of us.

What shouldn’t be lost on anyone is the stellar performance by Paul Giamatti and the supporting cast. I’ve always enjoyed seeing Giamatti since American Splendour, and he has a knack for picking interesting roles.

Ok, so lady isn’t the perfect movie, but lets give the guy a break and enjoy his movies for what they can be, not what they have been. Don’t let yourself become the hardened movie critic that finds his demise in this movie, be the people who re-discover their true humanity.

Food for thought:
Can innocence lost ever be found again?

Rent or Buy?
Buy it, everyone should have a M. Night Shyamalan collection.

Arthur And The Invisibles

Rating: G – Suitable for General Audiences.
Genre: Adventure.
Developer: Atari.
Release Date: 9th February.

Arthur and the Invisibles is the latest movie based kids game, though the action and controls of this particular game are more suited to slightly older kids, and fortunately the parents will be able to enjoy this a lot more than the brain numbing simplicity of the Cars movie game.

It’s your classic action adventure, where by your character has to fight his way through the main story of the movie, solving puzzles along the way, much in the same vein as Tomb Raider, but on a simpler level.

Another difference to Tomb Raider is the team aspect.

Your character is not alone on his quest. After a short training level, you’ll be introduced to two other characters that you can switch between, utilising each characters special abilities to progress further along in the game.

Fortunately these characters know how to handle them selves for the most part and greatly enhance the game play.

The thing that really got me with the game however was the graphics. I’d long put my PS2 to rest, only bringing it out for Guitar Hero sessions, or for the kids to play on. Whilst graphically challenged in comparison to the 360, I was pleasantly surprised at the loveliness of the visuals.

So if you’re looking for a fun game that the whole family can enjoy, you won’t get much better that Authur.

Rent or Buy?
Buy, it’ll keep the kids busy for a while.

It never rains but it pours.

I've been away on holiday over the last couple of weeks, with little to no internet access, so I've got a bit of catching up to do with posting my reviews, so over the next few days, expects an abnormal amount of reviews to be posted, followed by a more sedate number of reviews as I settle down again!


Rating: M – Contains Violence & Offensive Language.
Duration: 90 mins.
Genre: Festival & Foreign.
Actors: Ian Roberts, Mothusi Magano, Zenzo Ngqobe, Kenneth Nkosi, Jerry Mofokeng, Terry Pheto, Presley Chweneyagae, Rapulana Seiphemo.
Director: Gavin Hood.
Release Date: Available Now.

Tsotsi is a story of redemption, a little too clean in places, but non-the-less, an emotional redemptive tale.

Survival in a Johannesburg shantytown is no easy feat, especially if you’re a male with an ego, as all males are, especially if you’re the leader of a small gang, as Tsotsi is.

Making their money by riding the train into town and mugging people, the stakes are raised when Tsotsi kills a man on the train for his money. His boys aren’t too happy about the increased level of their criminal path, and one in particular gets vocal with Tsotsi.

Tsotsi being the alpha male leader with an ego has no other choice but the smash his friend to a pulp, near killing him.

This fractures the gang and sends Tsotsi on a voyage of self-discovery and the need for more money. Taking cover from a storm - which is metaphoric for what his life is about to become – under a tree in a well to do suburb, he sees a woman arrive home to find her automatic gate opener isn’t working.

Seeing an opportunity, Tsotsi runs across the road when she gets out of her BMW, with the idea of car jacking. Things turn nasty when she puts up a fight and Tsotsi accidentally shoots her.

Panicked, Tsotsi takes the car and races off into the night, only to have an accident when he’s gets distracted by the reason the woman put up a fight; a baby in the back seat.

After an all too brief, what-the-hell-do-I-do-now scene, Tsotsi decides to take and care for the baby. He has found purpose in his life.

The only trouble is he has no idea how too look after the baby.

Now his journey to redemption can begin, as he starts to see people as humans, not just possible targets. Tsotsi’s path will also have to cross his past as he deals with where he came from so he can see where he has to go.

The film is filled with much emotion and some really good film work. The story as a whole is a good one, but the script and direction is a little to forced.

Having said that however, Tsotsi is a good watch, and gets you thinking on a number of levels.

Food for thought:
Can the darkest evils ever find redemption?

Rent or Buy?
Rent it, once you’ve seen how it plays out, you’ll likely not get anymore out of this film.

The Lake House

Rating: PG – Contains Low Level Offensive Language.
Duration: 108 mins.
Genre: Romance.
Actors: Keanu Reeves, Christopher Plummer, Sandra Bullock, Dylan Walsh, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Ebon Moss-Bachrach.
Director: Alejandro Agresti.
Release Date: Available Now.

When you think of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock together in a movie, you immediately think of Speed.

Speed was a great popcorn-for-the-brain action movie. But it was more, it had chemistry. That chemistry came by way of Reeves and Bullock.

Now I’m not a fan of Sandra Bullock, be it because she chooses bad movies or that she’s just a talent free zone, I don’t know. But I normally go out of my way not to see a movie with her in it.

The Lake House was different. My wife wanted to see the movie, so I got it for her. The storyline alone was a little too kooky for me to start with, add in the Sandra Bullock factor and no hope of any bullet-time action sequences and I was looking at a very boring night in front of the TV, albeit with a beautiful woman cuddled up to me.

But then something happened, my hard-arsed maleness disappeared as I started to enjoy this unlikely story of two lovers who just can’t seem to hook up, no matter how hard they try.

Why can’t they seem to hook up you ask, well that’s because of the storyline.

Alex Wyler (Reeves) moves into an unusual glass house on stilts on a lake front, he’s needing to chill out for a while, and sees the rundown, unique abode a suitable challenge.

Alex finds a note in the letterbox from the previous tenant, apologising for the dog’s footprints along the path, footprints that don’t exist, until later in the day.

Perplexed, Alex leaves a reply in the letter box, and thus begins a pen-pal relationship, that turns romantic and incidentally transcends time and space.

You see the previous tenant; Kate Forster is actually the tenant that moves in after Alex leaves. Whoa, there’s a Matrix moment for you. Alex is conversing through notes with someone living two years in the future.

Now you see what I mean about kooky.

But it’s not. It’s incredibly well done and it’ll hook you and pull you in.

I’m not going to say it’s a perfect romantic movie, it’s just a damn good one.

Its multiple storylines add some complexity without being complex. It’s pure fluff when you try and dissect it, but that’s the point.

Reeves and Bullock prove that they don’t need a maniacal terrorist and constant action scenes to keep a romantic subplot moving along.

Food for thought:
Can love really transcend time and space?

Rent or Buy?
Buy it, you’ll enjoy cuddling up and watching this movie more than once.

Rumour Mill

Dark Horizons reports that production on Indiana Jones 4 has hit a bit of a snag with regards to safety regulations. It seems that insurance won’t cover Harrison Ford on the movie set if he has a real bull whip in his hands, and so the proposed alternative will be to insert a computer generated bull whip instead. Ford has rightfully called the situation “ridiculous” and has threatened to pull out of the film if he can’t use a real bull whip. Hollywood, we have a problem. Hhhhmmm, insurance for using a bull whip? Sure sounds like a load of, um, bull…

Warning signs came a couple of days ago when it was announced that Warner Bros. Pictures and Silver Pictures had bought a second Wonder Woman script from Matthew Jennison and Brent Strickland. At the time it was reported that this was just a precaution, “to protect itself against the possibility that any similarities between the scripts could be fodder for future legal action” (which, when you think about it, doesn’t really make too much sense). But now Whedon himself has confirmed that he has been cut loose by producer Joel Silver: “We just saw different movies, and at the price range this kind of movie hangs in, that’s never gonna work… The worst thing that can happen in this scenario is that the studio just keeps hammering out changes and the writer falls into a horrible limbo of development. These guys had the clarity and grace to skip that part. So I’m a free man.”

Zack Snyder is red hot in Hollywood right now. His latest film 300 hasn’t even hit theaters yet, and yet all the buzz surrounding it has studios taking notice. Warner Bros have been quite eager to keep working with him, and as a result they have just signed a two-year first look deal with Snyder’s production company, Cruel and Unusual Films.

Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2

Rating: PG – Parental Guidance Recommended.
Genre: Sport?
Developer: Temco.
Release Date: Available Now.

Ok, so I’ve played one of the Dead or Alive fighting games, and I’ve seen the movie (on a recommendation of a girl friend!?), but this was my first experience of Dead or Alive Xtreme.

It seems that the game follows the same scantily clad girls from the fighting game and movie, though now they’re on holiday.

And what do scantily clad girls with abnormally large breasts do on holiday? Well they race Jet Skis, play Volleyball, sunbath, play pool games, running games, basically anything to show how well animated their independently - and slightly disturbing - bouncing breasts are.

Not only do you get to see these bouncing oddities in game play, but you’re also treated to re-plays in lovely hi-def video.

WOW. This is any 13 year old boys dream game.

Except that the game play isn’t all that. The Jet Ski racing is the most fun, and I must say, Team Ninja have done a great job of modelling the water, but it’s too easy to win.

The Volley Ball could have been another interesting segment, but the controls and camera problems make it more frustrating than fun.

Visually the game is a treat, though it’s easy to see that way too much time went into modelling and animating the breasts, as there are some enormously funny glitches in some of the animated scenes.

There is a sim-like element of game play whereby you have to try and be friends, and stay friends with the other girls on the island, and this involves spending time with them and buying them appropriate gifts, but I’m not sure wether this improves or distracts from the overall game play.

Dead or Alive: Xtreme 2 – Fun for a while, but the joy quickly fades.

Rent or Buy?
Rent. It has some fun value, and shows off the graphical grunt of your 360, but you may end up being embarrassed if someone finds it as a permanent part of your game collection.