The Hunger Games Catching Fire (Blu-Ray & DVD): Review

The Film

The second film in the Hunger Games series, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire has repeat viewing power, meaning you can watch it again with friends and family on disc now, and take home the cinema experience.

Read the SAMDB Review of The Hunger Games; Catching Fire.

The Blu-Ray

The Blu-Ray is how a disc should be presented. There are hours of behind the scenes features on the cast and crew, including everything from the elaborate costumes, to the difficulties of filming, music, sound design, the editing process, and countless other aspects of the production.

There are over 3 hours worth of bonus video to watch, not including the director and producer audio commentary, which too provide some insightful information to the process of making the film; a great bit of knowledge for those in the filmmaking business and for fans alike.

The DVD

The DVD is encoded at a high bitrate, and those with viewing platforms with some of the advanced capabilities, would have no problem scaling up to an HD screen. Sound is well encoded too, and makes good use of the surrounds.

The DVD includes a few bonus features, namely the audio commentary, some deleted scenes, and the Divergent sneak peak.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire DVD and Blu-Ray are available now in South Africa, and will be a great addition to any collection.

The Family (DVD): Review

The Film

With Robert De Niro, Tommy-Lee Jones, and Michelle Pfeiffer, you’re sure to get a tour-de-force of talent, and they don’t disappoint.

The Manzoni family, part of a mafia organisation, are relocated by the FBI to Normandy, France, as part of a witness protection deal. Old habits die hard, and Giovanni soon gets up to his usual tricks.

The Family is full of talent, well written, and superbly executed. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. This, combined with the talented cast, provide the humour. At it’s core, there is a great story, and an interesting angle on a story that has been told many times in other films.

The Family is one that will appeal to everyone, and a fun tale of a family and their struggles.

The Disc

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, and can scale via software to HD. Sound make superb use of the surrounds, and expand the on-screen action by providing a wide and immersive stage for the sound design.

There are no bonus features on the disc, which is a bit disappointing, as it would be nice to have a commentary, or some behind the scenes.

The Family is available now, to purchase, in South Africa.

Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa (DVD): Review

The Film

Reprising his role as Irving Zisman, Johnny Knoxville returns in Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, on a journey from Nebraska to North Carolina, with his 8 year old grandson, Billy.

The unlikely companions take the audience along on a ride of hidden-camera hijinks, catching the public unaware, and setting up some elaborate pranks and stunts for the viewers amusement.

There is a bit of a story in the movie, but it’s a silly movie. Fans of the Jackass movie will be excited just because this is from the team that brought them all those, sometimes atrocious, dares. Bad Grandpa, however, is well executed, and one can see why it got an Oscar nomination for make-up. Knoxville does an excellent job as Irving, and Jackson Nicoll, as Billy, holds his own.

Viewers are bound to find a part of the movie that will appeal to their sense of humour, and Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa will provide a fun filled evening with friends.

The Disc

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, however, due to the type of footage included, as part of a hidden camera setup, it does not seem to scale, via software, up to HD too well. The soundtrack will not touch your surrounds, but again, due to the subject matter, it won’t really be missed.

There are some great bonus features on the disk. Some gags that did not make the final cut, and a very informative collection of behind the scenes that provide some interesting insights into what goes into a gag.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is available in South Africa, to purchase, now.

Muppets Most Wanted: Review

They’re back, and this time it’s a global tour. The Muppet’s Most Wanted follows their world tour, and the seedy story of the World’s Number One Criminal. Just one problem,  he looks almost like Kermit!

The cast is a veritable who’s who of cameos and stars, with Tina Fey delivering a hilarious performance as a Russian guard at a gulag. Ricky Gervais provides the sidekick to the most wanted criminal, as Number Two, and of course, most of the Muppet gang is back to thrill the younger audience.

The film is a light hearted laugh for the kids, and will keep them occupied in the holidays. There isn’t too much of a story aimed at the older audience, so it will be hit or miss as to whether parents will enjoy the show. There is a sense of nostalgia seeing those creatures back on screen though.

Muppet’s Most Wanted opens 28 March 2014 on South African screens, and is bound to be a delight for the kids!

iNumber Number Wins Audience Choice Award At Jozi Film Festival

iNumber Number’, the South African thriller written and directed by Donovan Marsh, has won the coveted Audience Choice Award at the third annual Jozi Film Festival. The festival winners were announced 23 February at an Awards ceremony held at The Rand Club in Johannesburg. The film opens in cinemas nationwide on 25 April 2014.

“Now a regular on the annual film festival calendar, the Jozi Film Festival showcases the latest films made by South African and international filmmakers,” says film director Marsh. “It highlights the best in filmmaking across a number of categories. To win the critically important Audience Choice Award is a fantastic achievement and we are very proud. We believe it’s an indication of the quality of the film and the outstanding performances of the actors.”

Helen Kuun,CEO of Indigenous Film Distribution, which is distributing ‘iNumber Number’ in South Africa, agrees. “Audience choice awards are particularly special and gratifying because they’re voted on by cinema’s biggest cheerleaders: the audience. The win highlights the fact that ‘iNumber Number’ is a high-energy crowd pleaser.”

‘iNumber Number’ follows an honest undercover cop who,after being cheated out of a promotion, crosses over to become a part of a cash-in-transit heist gang. The film, which stars S’dumo Mtshali and Presley Chweneyagae, had its world premiere at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival in September 2013. It was produced by Marsh, Quizzical Pictures’ Harriet Gavshon, JP Potgieter and Mariki van der Walt, and executive produced by Nim Geva and Owen Kessel.

An action-packed movie, ‘iNumber Number’ is about a pair of cops battling corrupt colleagues as well as a gang of armoured-car thieves.Chili (S’dumo Mtshali, winner of ‘Class Act’ in 2010), and Shoes (Presley Chweneyagae of ‘Tsotsi’ and ‘State of Violence’ fame) have been partners in the police force for eight years. After they make a risky arrest, their corrupt superior refuses to give them the reward they are due. Enraged, Chili realises that honesty does not pay and sets about infiltrating a gang of armoured car thieves. His scheme goes awry when the gang discover his true identity. They take Shoes hostage and go through with the heist. Lured by the potential loot,but finding himself in the midst of a killing spree, Chili has to shake off his rage and cynicism to do the right thing. The film boasts an oddball cast that brings comic relief to the ruthless thuggery.

‘iNumber Number’ is South African director Donovan Marsh’s fourth film. An award-winning director, writer and editor, Marsh has worked in the local film industry since 1992. He wrote and directed the feature films ‘Dollars and White Pipes’, ‘Spud’ and ‘Spud 2: The Madness Continues’.

Mr Peabody & Sherman: Review

Starting in the 1950’s and 60’s as a television series, the characters of Mr. Peabody and Sherman came about.

Mr. Peabody, a talking dog how was never adopted as a puppy. He wins the right, in court, to adopt a human child. This joy comes to him in the form of Sherman, whom he tries to raise in the best possible way, and prepare him for the world. Mr. Peabody is an acclaimed scientist, consulting for many governments and winning countless awards, and it’s this genius that prompts him to create The WABAC, a time machine he uses to take Sherman to different historic events, in order to teach him first hand what he will be learning in school.

Following an incident at school, where Sherman bites a girl in his class, Mr. Peabody invites her family to his house in order to make amends and prevent Sherman from being taken away from him. The two children get bored, and against Mr. Peabody’s instructions, they take the WABAC for a ride, and of course, things go wrong.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman is one of those animated stories that has plenty for the younger viewers, and loads of laughs for the adults. The history puns are thrown about thick and fast as the engrossing tale unfolds, with many interesting characters, and caricatures of those they represent from the past.

The plot is simple enough for the younger audience to follow, yet there are enough twists to keep the adults guessing. This is a film the whole family will enjoy, and anyone who is looking for an escape to have a few laughs, with a touch of sci-fi, adventure and drama in the mix.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman opens 20 March 2014 in South Africa.

Need For Speed: Review

It began in 1994 with a game from Electronic Arts (EA), The Need For Speed was first released on the 3DO, and then ported to DOS on the PC, PlayStation and Sega Saturn. The game included racing exotic cars, impressive audio and video for the day, and introduced us to police pursuits, where players would race head-to-head while the police force chased them.

A slew of games followed, across many gaming platforms, with a new incarnation released every year since that initial release.

And now, to the joy of gamers around the world, we are finally presented with Need For Speed, the movie.

Tobey Marshell (Aaron Paul) works at the family garage he inherited from the family. On his off time he partakes in the illegal street racing in the area, in a bid to gather enough winnings to save the shop from financial ruin, with the bank after him, and staff to pay.

Racing against a long time rival, things go wrong, and Marshell ends up in prison for a 2 year stint. He thinks of nothing but vengeance, and so begins the story. Cue racing, action and some awesome cars.

Need For Speed is not just about driving fast with loud music and special effects. All the car stunts were performed for the camera, with no CG. There is a plot to the film as well, and one that is engrossing, and full of drama. It’s not overly complex, but streets ahead of other such movies in this genre.

The cars are amazing, listing many of the game favourites, and those who have driven the Need For Speed worlds will recognise many little snippets of scenery, not to mention a few of the car stunts performed by Marshell on his adventure.

Good story, fun stunts, great exotic cars, and an engrossing story.

An adrenaline filled ride of drama and exotic cars at full speed. Need For Speed opens 20 March 2014 in South African cinemas.

Those looking to get a feel for driving exotic cars, at high speed, while evading police, might want to try their hand at the free online Need For Speed: World game for PC.

The Lego Movie: Review

A delightful tale, imagined by a child, comes to life on screen with the one of the most widely acquired toy in the world. Lego, loved by children, and still used by adults. Those bricks that can make anything come to life.

The Lego Movie tells the story of an ordinary Lego man, thought to be the MasterBuilder. He embarks on a quest to stop an evil tyrant who is gluing the Lego world bricks together, making them permanent.

Anyone who has ever heard of Lego (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?) will love this film. There is a barrage of in-jokes from all the popular movies of the past few decades, and appearances by a whole host of characters we all know and love, from Batman (in a hilarious parody), to Wonder Woman, and appearances by the Star Wars team.

The Lego Movie is one of those you need to see a few times in order to catch the fast paced barrage of humour sent your way. The main story isn’t too complex for the little one’s in the family, yet will keep the adults entertained as well. It’s clear to see why there are already talks of a sequel.

A fun filled, laughter inducing, feel good film. See it a few times.

The Lego Movie opens 14 march 2014 in South Africa.

I, Frankenstein: Review

I, Frankenstein, the tale of the monster of Victor Frankenstein 200 years on. Having wondered the Earth after the death of his creator. Following an incident where he kills a group of demons, he is recruited by the gargoyles to fight in a war that has raged for generations, being the one who is able to kill each of the warring parties, due to his not having a soul.

The film is short, and thankfully so. The plot is simple in theory, yet you are treated to basically one long special effects fight between the two groups of creatures, filled with sparkly orange and blue lights that signify when one of each side does – blue for gargoyle and orange for demon.

It’s a pity that such actors as Bill Nighy and Yvonne Strahovski should appear in something like this. For the viewer looking for the story of Mary Shelley’s creation, it’s best to look elsewhere.

Prisoners (DVD): Review

The Film

How far would you go to save your child? Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) goes far, crossing the line. With Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) close on his heels. With Dover’s daughter and friend missing, Prisoners is a drama about family, and loved ones, and an intense thriller.

Plot twists and red herrings a-plenty, the police pursue multiple leads, Keller Dover follows his own leads, and they all come together in one of the most unpredicable endings of late.

Prisoners is well acted, and well written. The phenomenal cast bring the characters to life on-screen, while the editing and setting bring that feeling of foreboding that chills us all.

For anyone interested in a dramatic thriller, Prisoners is one ride that will suck you in, and leave you wanting more.

The Disc

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, meaning there are no on-screen artefacts, and should the viewer have an appropriate system, it can be scaled up to an HD screen. Sound is mixed in 5.1 audio, but this type of story does not lend itself to much use of the surrounds. Some scenes however create a great atmospheric effect, drawing the viewer into the scene, and making you part of the setting.

There are no special features on the disc, but at just under two and a half hours, there is likely not much room left on the DVD for bonus material, and it’s better to have the main title encoded for clarity, than to try squeeze more onto the disc.

Prisoners is available now in South African stores.