Die Spook Van Uniondale: Review

Die Spook Van Uniondale tells the story of Stefan (Adam Tas) as his car breaks down in the peaceful town of Uniondale, South Africa, while on his way to Willowmore to visit his family. Here, he encounters the locals, who have a story to tell of a young woman seen along the highway.

The story has a lot of potential, but sadly falls way short. There is a hint of a romance, when Stefan meets Sonja (Nelda Janse van Rensberg), but this is so slightly explored, that it is neither a romance, nor a fling.

The local characters, whether human or otherwise, would fit more in a school play for kindergarden kids, and portrayed in a way that would stop them from being scared, yet might make them laugh if only slightly.

Tobie Cronje’s performance is so over the top, that you can’t bear to hear another laugh, while the old lady in charge of a hotel does nothing but cackle, and is nothing short of annoying.

Die Spook Van Uniondale, with all the potential of the story, is unfortunatly one to avoid. The acting, story (or lack thereof) and cinematography are just too much to endure. For those wishing to brave the experience, it opens 29 August 2014 in South Africa.

Into The Storm (Review)

Into The Storm tells the story of a single day in Silverton, when the town is ravaged by an unprecedented number of tornados. While most people are fleeing, or seeking shelter, there are those who head towards these vorticies of nature, in a quest to capture their power for science, and of course, money.

Told through the eyes of professional storm chasers, Into The Storm is a thrill ride of nature. Part found-footage, the viewer is dumped in the midst of the carnage, and it certainly feels as if you are there, seeing things that not many of survived to talk about.

This is no far fetched disaster movie, instead with looming climate change, it is all too feasable. The storms themselves are brilliantly created, with incredibly real looking effects. Not to be outdone, the cast hold their own against nature, and will have viewers feeling either sympathy for them, or hatred, as each reveals their true nature, and hidden motives.

Into The Storm is an action packed film of man against the power of Mother Nature, and although there are no massive plot twists, there is enough to keep you guessing.

A fun, thrilling film, and some great escape from the calm of every day life. Into The Storm opens 5 September 2014 in South Africa.

The Purge Anarchy: Review

The annual purge  is back, in The Purge: Anarchy. This time, the world the viewer gets to see is far larger, the action has been stepped up a notch, and we begin to see exactly what the general public thinks of the annual carnage, where law is suspended for 12 hours.

The tenion of the first film, and the claustrophobia have been dialed down a bit, while the action and violence have been stepped up. People are apposed to the purge, while others have found a lucrative way to make money off the poor and defenceless.

The Purge: Anarchy is a stark look at a plausable future, and ponders the nature of humans, whether we’ll help each other, or allow our primal instincts to take over, and forget any sort of morals.

The Purge: Anarchy is a thrilling ride, and opens 22 August 2014 in South Africa.

Lucy: Review

What would happen if we tapped into the potential of the human brain, its secrets and untold mysteries? Lucy (Scarlett Johanssen get the chance to find out when she ends up as a drug mule in place of a shady friend, and is thrown into the middle of the criminal activities of the triad.

Directed by Luc Besson, of La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element, it’s clear to see his touches. Johanssen is great to see in the action scenes, and her talent as an actress clearly lifts this film up to another level.

The story, and visuals, however, do get a bit abstract, and whether these are to show the art of the mind, or to portray a drug induced trip, they are likely not to appeal to all viewers.

The ending is not what one would expect, and again, this might leave some feeling a little cheated, and others happy. This is likely to be a bit hit-or-miss with viewers.

Lucy, love her or hate her, opens 29 August 2014 in South Africa.

Philomena (DVD): Review

The Film

Philomena, the film, inspired by actual events, that garnered so much attention during the 2014 awards season, is finally out for viewers to own.

Following the story of title character, Philomena, as she attempts to find out what happened to her son who was adopted when at a young age, she meets a political journalist who seems to be fighting his own demons.

Judi Dench (Philomena) and Steve Coogen (Martin) deliver a stunning performance in this drama. The pace is slow, denoting the long struggle they undertook to find details of Philomena’s son). But these two bring the story alive, drawing the audience in, and allowing them to feel each emotionally charged aspect, and each sad or joyous moment.

An incredibly talented cast, a well written story. This is one to suck you in, and provide a respite from all the action and effects of the filmes of today.

Disc And Bonus Features

The disc is encoded at a decent bitrate, with no visible artefacts, allowing it to be scaled up to HD via software. Sound makes some use of the surrounds, but being a drama, and most of the focus on dialogue and the on-screen events, there is not an over use of these. There are unfortunatly no bonus features.

Philomena is available now, for purchase, in South Africa.

Oldboy (DVD): Review

The Film

As Oldboy starts, the viewer is left in a state of confusion, much like the main character, played by Josh Brolin. Locked away for 20 years, he finally gets out, and now on a quest for vengence, and answers, can he find those in time and save those in need?

Oldboy is a story with many twists, and just as many questions. Broline is tough, Copley is slimey. And the poles of their characters are balance by the sweet charater played by Olsen.

There are some over the top fight scenes, yet those speak of the sheer desperation of the character, as apposed to being all out action.

An most enjoyable ride, never knowing where the story will take you, or what is driving our protagonist.

Oldboy is a myster thriller that is sure to delight and enthrall those who enjoy that genre. A fresh foray into the world of ‘whodunnit’.

Disc And Bonus Features

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, meaning there are no visible artefacts on screen, and it can be scaled in software up to HD. The soundtrack makes use of the surrounds to add to the atmosphere, and enhance the on-screen action, although not overused, they do provide the audio cues needed to keep the viewer informed of the off-screen activities.

There are unfortunatly no bonus features on the disc.

Oldboy is available now, for purchase, in South Africa.

Inside No 9 (DVD): Review

The Series

The stories in Inside No 9 are interesting, and begin in the normal, daily world we all know, yet slowly they lift the veil to reveal a darker side, and seedy underbelly, and the hint of evil contained in everyone.

Inside No 9 is a look at a few snippets of the world, with a feel of series such as The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. An interesting series that you can watch as and when you wish, in small bites, or a whole bunch of episodes at once.

Sardines

The ensemble cast of characters all seem a bit out of place, playing a childhood game, and reminiscing about days gone by, with the occasional intrusion of adult life. However, things are heading for a surprising twist.

Sardines, enjoyable, in the fact, that the characters are out of place, in the forced world of their childhood games, with the situation leading to a few of those British laughs.

 Quiet Night In

Starting off with the feeling of a French Farce, this soon sprinkles in some British humour. By quiet, they mean, no talking, no dialogue, crafted right down to the point of you thinking it’s ridiculous, and just as you think that, they change things up and the whole plot gets twisted. Another roller-coaster of like and hate.

Tom & Gerri

A look at who we are, and our realities. The life we live, and the life we invent to allow us to cope. Once again, a short plot, full of twists and turns, misleading, foreshadowing. And right at the very end, we realise we were far from predicting the story.

Last Gasp

Greed, how far will we go? And then, what remains once we have carried out a most despicable act, and then lose our grip on that we sold our soul to obtain? A story of just such an act of scheming.

The Understudy

Misguided loyalties, misdirection, and not knowing who to trust. A story of ulterior motives, and while it seems to have far reaching consequences, the stage is well contained.

The Harrowing

How quickly the innocent can turn to something foul and evil. A small favour, a little job, and those who are naive to the world can be so quickly corrupted.

Disc And Bonus Features

The disc is encoded at a decent bitrate, however there are places where you can see the results of compression, likely from adding so much data to a single disc. Sound is good, but there is not use of the surrounds. A Pro-Logic system would help the viewer, but more is not really needed for the material at hand.

There is a short featurette by the writers and director on creating the series, with some further insight into the intent behind the series, and the acting / creative methodology behind their vision.

Inside No 9 is available now  for purchase in South Africa.

 

 

The Lego Movie (Blu-Ray): Review

The Film

The Lego Movie is one of thsoe films that bombards you with so many popular culture references, and visual gags, that it takes several viewings to catch most of those, so the fun never stops, looking for these, which include aspects of the various Lego sets, the Star Wars universe, Marvel, superheroes.

Read the full SAMDB Lego Movie review.

Disc And Bonus Features

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, so no artefacts are visible, even up close. Audio is clear, and makes full use of the surround speakers.

Bonus features are plenty, shwoing the creators on a tour of the Lego factory (taking Emmet along with them), and how they go from a physical item, to creating that on a computer, and bringing it to life on screen. There are a few tutorials on creating some of the Lego items that feature in the movie. Something that is bound to appeal to the younger viewers.

Several items in the film were created first by using the Lego design software, available to anyone.

There are some short fan-made Lego films included on the disc, part of a world-wide competition, with the winners being featured in the actual film.

The cast / crew audio commentary is  a laugh, and one can certainly hear that the cast thouroughly enjoyed being a part of this production. Intersperesed with a lot of laughter, are indeed actual facts and insights to the process of creating the film.

The Lego Movie is available to buy on Blu-Ray and DVD in South Africa now.

Divergent (Blu-Ray): Review

The Film

Owning the Divergent Blu-Ray is a great way to start your collection for the series early, and find the time to watch all the bonus features and listen to the several audio commentaries.

Second time around, the film holds up to multiple viewings, allowing one to spot some of the foreshadowing, and spend some time admiring the incredible detail of the constumes and sets.

Read the full SAMDB Divergent review.

Disc And Bonus Features

With the vast amount of storage space, there is no excuse for compressing footage too much, and Divergent is certainly compressed at a high bitrate, meaning even up-close there are no visible artefacts to be seen.

Bonus features include a gallery of posters and marketing images, a selection of trailers, a vast amount of bonus featurettes, with everything from a detailed look at the costumes, to scouting the locations for the film, preparing the actors for the physical aspects of their fight scenes, deleted scenes, and turning today’s Chicago into the future world of the film. Not forgeting the music video from the soundtrack. There are two audio commentaries for the film, brining a host of additional information to the viewer.

The Divergent Blu-Ray contains so many hours of extra features, and so much information in the audio commentaries, it is sure to thrill both the movie fans and aspiring filmmakers alike.

Divergent is available to purchase in South Africa now.

Need For Speed (DVD): Review

The Film

On a second viewing, it’s great to spot all the little homages and references to the game that leads the computer game racing industry, spotting the fast-paced, subtleties that reference some of the moves and landscape that anyone playing these games would know.

Read the full SAMDB review on Need For Speed.

The Disc And Bonus Features

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, allowing it be to upscaled in software to an HD screen without any artefacts. The soundtrack makes use of the surrounds to enhance the viewing experience, but one would have thought there might have been a bit more distinct use of the rear speakers in a film such as this.

Bonus features include a few deleted scenes, and a behind the scenes look at creating the cars and practical stunts of the film, interviewing the family of stunt performers involved in the shoot, and adding another level to the excitement and fun on the film.