Interstellar (DVD): Review

The Film

There are few who have not heard of Interstellar by this time. It was all the buzz during awards season, and it’s clear to see why.

As the story goes, the Earth is in peril. A team of explorers undertake an important mission, beyond our Milky Way galaxy, in order to locate a planet to which mankind can migrate, in order to save the species.

This sci-fi extravaganza follows Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and Brand (Anne Hathaway) on their inter-galactic journey. The science depicted in the plot has been carefully researched, meaning that it is about as real as the filmmakers could make it, and this alone adds great credence to the story. Something that will draw sci-fi and science buffs alike, yet it is not too complex that it will lose the average viewer.

On top of this, the acting, directing and cinematography are sure to astound, saying nothing for the great sound mix and soundtrack.

With a running time of close to three hours, one is left wanting more at the end, and this is something few films can claim.

Broken down to its simplest form, the story of Interstellar is one about love, family, and what one will give up in order to keep them safe. It touches on our values as a species, and looks at the differing values of the individual.

Interstellar is certainly a film that is going to be on any list depicting top films for a long time to come, and is certainly one that any movie going person should see.

The film most definitely holds up to repeat viewing, and is a masterpiece of cinema that will show off any home theatre.

Disc And Bonus Features

The disc is encoded at a reasonable bitrate, however there are no artifacts visible, and it can be scaled, within reason, for viewing on an HD screen.

Audio is presented in a 5.1 surround track, and makes full use of this throughout the movie, whether with scenes on Earth, or the more action packed ones in space and other worlds.

There are unfortunately no bonus features on the DVD, which is a great pity.

The BluRay

For those who prefer the BluRay version of the film, presented in high definition, and superior sound encoding, there is a bonus disc full of additional features and information.

Starting with the hour long video, The Science Of Interstellar, narrated by Matthew McConaughey. This feature is packed full of the details on how the filmmakers and Christopher Nolan went about making sure that all the science represented in the film was true and accurate. There are interviews with their science advisor, who at the end of the film wrote two papers on wormholes, one for the science community and another for the computer graphics community, all based on the collaboration between his mathematical genius and the advanced visualisation capabilities of the computer graphics crew.

There is also Inside Information with no less than fourteen shorter videos showing many aspects of the filmmaking process, from set pieces, to locations, from costume to the effects used. This will keep anyone busy for hours, marvelling at the hard work that went in to creating Interstellar, and provides a very insightful look at how things were done.

And, finally, there are four versions of the trailer, each with it’s own feel and mood, promoting the film.

Interstellar is available on disc, to purchase in South Africa, now.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron: Review

The Avengers are back, and this time we have Tony Stark trying to jumpstart an old peacekeeping program. Things go awry, and The Avengers then have to stop a villainous Ultron from exacting his terrible plans, all this in Avengers: Age of Ultron.

This iteration of what has grown into a mega-international franchise, features non-other than Johannesburg as one of the films settings. Not only filmed there, but identifying the city in the storyline.

The humour has been ratcheted up a notch, and the one-liners fly thick and fast. The same goes for the action sequences, and special effects, all of what are something to marvel at. South African fans are sure to laugh with glee as we see the South African police join the fray, in one particular battle, only to be nonchalantly hurled aside.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is going to be one of 2015s blockbuster films, no doubt. It’s entertaining, it has all the requirements for a great action film, it’s funny and with tie-in’s to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D storyline, and the other films, no fan is going to want to miss this.

One negative point in all this, is the fact that the 3D version of the film is terribly dark. South African cinemas are not correctly set up to display 3D in all its glory, with many opting recently for cheaper 3D glasses that are uncomfortable, and do not sit properly on the face, to the fact that the screens and projectors are just way too dark. Anyone with anything short of perfect eyesight, especially those with poorer night vision, is going to miss out, and have the whole experience ruined for them. While this is not the fault of the film itself, the film does contain some slightly darker lit scenes, that suffer from this issue to a larger degree.

Avengers: Age of Ultron, an action film for any movie-goer, opens 24 April 2015 in South Africa, and will thrill and entertain a very wide selection of audiences.

ZenHQ Films Screens Three Of Six SA Films Showing In Cannes

Out of the six South African films screening at the Marche du Cannes this year, ZenHQ Films is screening three of them. Action cop thriller Dias Santana, the multi-award winning Afrikaans fantasy love story Die Windpomp (The Windmill) and politically incorrect action comedy Bordering on Bad Behavior, will premiere at the world film market in May 2015.

The only single production company this year to screen three of its film in Cannes, lead producer Chris Roland says: ….

The newly completed action thriller Dias Santana (starring David O’Hara and Rapulana Seiphemo) was written and directed by Chris Roland and Maradona Dias Dos Santos. Dias Santana was partially shot in Angola and mostly South, where many locations doubled up for Angola. This is the first ever South African/ Angolan co-production. Chris Roland or Maradona quote here….

Bordering on Bad Behavior (starring Tom Sizemore ) is sweeping the indie market by

storm where it already has won 2 international festivals in multiple categories, including best Comedy Feature, Best supporting actor and Viewers Choice Awards.

South African favourite Die Windpomp is screening under its English title The Windmill, after having just returned from its first American screening at Sonoma Film festival in California. Praised by audience and critics alike, this film has been hailed as the “Best Afrikaans film ever made.”

Cannes Film Festival runs from March 15-21, 2015

Family Comedy “Strikdas – ‘n Familie Gedoente” Holds Strong At S.A. Box Office

Quirky new comedy ‘Strikdas – ‘n Familie Gedoente’ held its position on the SA Industry Top Ten this past weekend after releasing in SA cinemas and worldwide on www.scatzy.com on 2 April. By the close of business on its second weekend, nearly 70 000 people had seen the film on the big screen locally.

It held onto position number 5 on the Industry Top Ten behind Hollywood blockbusters ‘Fast & Furious 7’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Home’, and ‘Insurgent’, and remained ahead of another local film, ‘Ballade vir ‘n Enkeling’, which took seventh place on the Top Ten and ‘The Gunman’ which held sixth position.

“We are really thrilled that the public reaction to the film has remained so positive,” says Stefan Enslin, producer of ‘Strikdas – ‘n Familie Gedoente’. “The response on several social media platforms continues to be positive and everyone who has seen it is raving about how much it makes you laugh, especially because you can enjoy the film with the entire family. It’s a delight for us as the filmmakers because we wanted to make a family comedy that would appeal to everyone. I want to encourage those who haven’t seen it yet, to join the 70000 who already have and can’t stop raving about it”

The film opened 37% ahead of the hugely popular ‘Klein Karoo’ (2013) on its opening weekend, and performed between 15% and 35% better on its second weekend at sites like Northridge, Ster Kinekor Centurion & Mimosa Mall (Bloemfontein) as well as NuMetro Woodlands and Menlyn Park in Pretoria, proving once again that there is an ongoing demand for Afrikaans family entertainment.

‘Strikdas – ‘n familie gedoente’ is also the first Afrikaans feature film to be released worldwide simultaneously, in theatres across South Africa, and online to international audiences outside of Africa via the video-on-demand platform Scatzy.com.

“As the local distributor of the film, it’s been exciting to have the unique opportunity to release a film that South Africans across the world can watch at the same time as their families back home are doing so,” says Helen Kuun, CEO, Indigenous Film Distribution. “Given the success of the film to date, we are very keen to see how it performs online.”

The film’s hero Vossie, played by Kaz McFadden (“Knysna”, 2014) falls in love with Willemien, played by Leandie du Randt (“Mooirivier”, 2015), the spoilt daughter of a wealthy wine farm owner. He finds himself having to prove his worth not only to her, but also to her snobbish family. At the same time, he has to fight off Willemien’s two-timing ex, who is not prepared to let her go without a fight.

The soundtrack for the film, produced by Gresham Records, is available from at retail outlets nationwide. It features the title track ‘Met Jou Hart’, written and performed by Johan C Venter, who gained renown as a member of the popular a cappella group Flip a Coin. The music video is on YouTube and the ‘Praat Afrikaans’ Facebook page. A second single titled Klapsoen was recorded by Bouwer Bosch (Dans Lisa and Straatligkinders) and Almarie du Preez.

Produced by Faith in Motion Productions and Philo Pieterse’s Philo Films, the production company behind runaway success ‘Platteland’, ‘Strikdas – ‘n Familie Gedoente ’also stars Albert Maritz, Susanne Beyers, Gys de Villiers, Elsabé Daneel, Sandra Kotzé and Sean-Marco Vorster.

Revamped DMX Audio Channels And Brand New Ubuntu Audio Channel

DStv customers are in for a treat as we launch three new exciting audio channels onto the DStv audio package on 21 April 2015.

DMX is pleased to announce the launch of two new audio channels, which will enhance the music experience on the DMX DStv audio packages. The new channels, Trots Afrikaans and The Light, will launch on DStv channels 815 and 836.

 

Trots Afrikaans, will feature a mix of current and favourite Afrikaans adult contemporary songs, which is sure to provide a wonderful showcase of Afrikaans music, appealing to avid Afrikaans music listeners. This channel features a range of artists including, Juanita du Plessis, Bobby Van Jaarsveld, Theuns Jordaan, Dozi, Nicholis Louw, Kurt Darren and more.

The Light is an upbeat, mid-tempo and joyful expression of a mix of both Pop and Rock modern gospel tracks, mostly contemporary, from the eighties through to current hits across the gospel charts. The channel features well known artists such as Casting Crowns, Britt Nicole, Tobymac, Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe, Meredith Andrews, Josh Wilson and more.

Trots Afrikaans and The Light will replace Electrosphere (DStv channel 815) and New Age (DStv channel 836) respectively.

Talk radio enthusiasts can tune into Ubuntu Radio on DStv audio channel 888. Launched by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa (DIRCO) as an online radio station, Ubuntu Radio is the first of its kind on the African continent.

The station aims to create a platform for exchange of views and opinions by various stakeholders as well as tell African stories from an African perspective. It also aims to create a fair and balanced representation of the work of the department and government as a whole; and to clearly and consistently present the policies of the Government of South Africa.

For more information about DStv Audio channels and all other DStv channels and packages, please visit DStv.com

God Only Knows (DVD): Review

The Film

After many years spent working for, and idolising, the Italian gangsters, a smooth-talking, ambitious Nick Tortano (Ben Barnes) finally proves himself to the boss and becomes a made-man. Once on the inside though, Nick encounters conflict from a Mafia moneymaker, and this in turn begins to drive a wedge between him and the boss.

God Only Knows is a crime drama about progress, and the lack thereof, and a story of relationships, whether approved of, or not.

Nick has a heart, he has his own moral code, and is not yet cut out for the life of a Mafiosi. He is unable to carry out the required killing in order to become part of the ‘family’, he falls for the wrong girl, his friend is pushing him to expand and create his own crew, and his father wants nothing to do with him.

God Only Knows takes us on a journey, where we encounter a whole host of relationships, and a string of choices, each shaping the next event. The film builds from a slow, almost pensive start, and intensifies to keep pace with Nick’s current mindset and moral decay. All this is presented in a more intellectual, than action driven manner, preferring to build characters rather than show events typical to the Mafia lifestyle.

With interesting cinematography, and a character driven story, God Only Knows is a slight departure to the run and gun that is often associated with a ‘mob family’, yet there are enough twists to the story, and variations in pace, to draw the viewer into the story, and hold them hostage right unto the end.

Disc And Bonus Features

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, meaning it can be scaled up to a higher resolution and screen via hardware or software, if desired. The soundtrack is presented in 5.1 surround, and while there is not non-stop action through out the film, this does serve to expand the on-screen world, and helps keep the viewer as part of the action.

Apart from a few trailers as the beginning of the disc, there are unfortunately no bonus features included.

God Only Knows is available now, to purchase, in South Africa.

Project Almanac: Review

A group of teens discover the secret plans for a time machine, designed by one of their fathers. They decide to construct this machine, but soon their own needs, wants and desires take hold and things begin to spiral out of control.

Project Almanac does require some suspension of disbelief on the part of the viewer. Once you get past the fact that there are plans for a time machine just lying around in a basement, that a handful of teens can construct said machine, actually get it working, and improve on it, you have your plot device and can concentrate on the rest of the story, which is actually quite enjoyable.

At it’s core, this is a story of friendship, and belonging. This is also a story of how we need to weigh what we want against the cost of getting what we so desire.

An enjoyable film, that will provide some fun escapism for the audience, and although there are a few plot items that are stretching things just slightly, all-in-all this is a pretty good story.

Project Almanac opens 17 April 2015 in South Africa.

Star Wars – The Digital Movie Collection

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As anticipation builds for the December release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the first new film in the Star Wars Saga in a decade, The Walt Disney Studios, Lucasfilm Ltd., and 20th Century Fox today announced the upcoming release of The Star Wars Digital Movie Collection. For the first time ever, all six epic films in the Saga, from The Phantom Menace to Return of the Jedi, will be available on Digital HD throughout the galaxy – or at least here on Earth – globally beginning Friday, April 10.

Available for pre-order now, South African fans will be able to access the Star Wars Digital Movie Collection exclusively on the South Africa iTunes Store via www.itunes.com/starwars.

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“Since the debut of the first film nearly 40 years ago, Star Wars has become a worldwide phenomenon with legions of fans from every generation,” said Alan Bergman, President, The Walt Disney Studios. “It’s only fitting that audiences enjoy this legendary Saga and its many fascinating behind-the-scenes stories on a wide variety of platforms, and we’re very excited to finally bring all six films to Digital HD for the first time.”

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“We’re thrilled that fans will be able to enjoy the Star Wars Saga on their digital devices wherever they go,” commented Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy. “These films broke new ground in technology, design, sound, and visual effects, and we’ve created some very special bonus material which delves into the Saga’s rich history, including new and never-before-released conversations between legendary Star Wars artists – the masters who helped George bring his iconic universe to life.”

With Star Wars: Episodes I-VI available for purchase as a complete digital movie collection and individually, viewers will have the Rebel forces at their beck and call across their favorite devices anywhere – sunbathing at the beach, relaxing in their living room with friends, or waiting to board a flight to Endor (or elsewhere).

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Enhancing the movie collection are a host of never-before-seen special features including Star Wars: Discoveries from Inside and insightful Conversations between key contributors from across this celebrated film franchise, plus a curated collection of classic Star Wars extras from each film. These are the droids you’re looking for:

BONUS

*Digital bonus offerings may vary by retailer

STAR WARS EPISODE I: The Phantom Menace

  • Conversations: Doug Chiang Looks Back
  • Discoveries From Inside: Models & Miniatures
  • Legacy content includes “The Beginning”; The Podrace: Theatrical Edit; plus eight deleted scenes.

STAR WARS EPISODE II: Attack of the Clones

  • Conversations: Sounds In Space
  • Discoveries From Inside: Costumes Revealed
  • Legacy content includes “From Puppets To Pixels: Digital Characters In Episode II”; State Of The Art: The Previsualization Of Episode II; and “Films Are Not Released, They Escape”; plus Episode II Visual Effects Breakdown Montage and six deleted scenes.

STAR WARS EPISODE III: Revenge of the Sith

  • Conversations: The Star Wars That Almost Was
  • Discoveries From Inside: Hologram & Bloopers
  • Legacy content includes documentaries “Within A Minute: The Making Of Episode III”; The Journey Part 1; and The Journey Part 2; plus six deleted scenes.

STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A New Hope (20th Century Fox)

  • Conversations: Creating A Universe
  • Discoveries From Inside: Weapons & The First Lightsaber
  • Legacy content includes “Anatomy Of A Dewback”; Star Wars Launch Trailer; plus eight deleted scenes.

STAR WARS EPISODE V: The Empire Strikes Back

  • Conversations: The Lost Interviews
  • Discoveries From Inside: Matte Paintings Unveiled
  • Legacy content includes “A Conversation With The Masters” (2010); “Dennis Muren: How Walkers Walk”; “George Lucas On Editing The Empire Strikes Back 1979”; and “George Lucas On The Force: 2010”; plus six deleted scenes.

STAR WARS EPISODE VI: Return of the Jedi

  • Conversations: The Effects
  • Discoveries From Inside: The Sounds Of Ben Burtt
  • Legacy content includes “Classic Creatures: Return Of The Jedi”; “Revenge Of The Jedi Teaser Trailer”; Return Of The Jedi Launch Trailer; “It Began TV Spot”; “Climactic Chapter TV Spot”; plus five deleted scenes.