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dvd / blu-ray Review

American Ultra (DVD): Review

Film

Mike Howell (Jesse Eisenberg), a not-too-bright stoner, living with his girlfriend Phoebe Larson (Kristen Stewart) leads a seemingly simple life. He works at a convenience store. The couple have what appears to be a good relationship, other than Mike’s fear of leaving town in any sort of way.

However, it is not long before Mike has an encounter with a government agent, and we learn that he is in-fact a member of a secret CIA program, called American Ultra. Mike, we come to learn, is a highly trained operative. What is funny though, is that he has no recollection of this, as this memory has been suppressed until he is activated. Of course, it’s not long until he is indeed activated, and our story begins.

Jesse Eisenberg is a very unlikely action star, and yet, there is a thrill, or a joy, watching him bungle his way through the fights and action sequences, as Mike. There is a lovable, humorous aspect to the shock Mike experiences after each display of his seemingly super-human skill set.

As the girlfriend, planted to watch over Mike, Kristen Stweart gives one of her more emotional performances yet. Unlike some roles that leave her seeming somewhat devoid of feeling, you actually start to feel sorry for Phoebe. You’d like to help her, and most certainly cheer her on as she helps poor Mike find his way.

American Ultra is not just another spy thriller, it’s also not just another action movie. The film looks at relationships, and who we really are in this world. If we were to change our entire self, would our personality still show through, and our true nature be revealed?

There is enough action, intrigue, a few plot twists, and of course, humanity, to satisfy most any audience. American Ultra is a slightly different take on the genre mix, and an enjoyable ride to boot. Enjoy it with like-minded friends, or when you need an escape.

Disc And Bonus Features

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

Video

Video is encoded at a high bitrate, utilising available space on the disc. There are no visible artefacts on screen. Users with the necessary hardware and/or software can scale this image up to larger or higher resolution screens, if desired.

Audio

The soundtrack is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. It is also encoded at a high variable bitrate, with no addable issues. The surround channels are given a fair amount of use, which certainly adds to the on-screen action, and further draws the viewer into the story.

Navigation

Navigation is a simple, static approach, yet functional.

Extras

There are unfortunately no bonus features, other than a few previews at the beginning of the disc, of upcoming releases.

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Film Review

13 Hours: Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, the battle fought by six men who decided to do the right thing. In 2012 the threat level in Benghazi is deemed critical, Libya is seen as a failed state. With the fall of Gaddafi, armed militants now fight on the streets. International consulates are closed. All except the USA, who keeps their ambassador and his staff in the country. Just one mile up the road, the CIA has a secret facility, where it hires private contractors as it’s security, men with the necessary skills and backgrounds, to survive in such a worn torn state.

Based on the actual events of the time, 13 Hours is brought to life on screen by director Michael Bay, better known for films such as Armageddon and Transformers. However, 13 Hours does not take the usual route favoured by Bay, but instead ops for a lot more realistic action scenes, placing the viewer in the midst of the chaos, and keeping things extremely realistic.

While 13 Hours may be lacking in a few areas, such as some character development and drama, not to mention perhaps a bit more background on the historic facts of the day, it is certainly a ride for any fan of the action genre. The story kicks off rather quickly, as we are introduced to the main characters, a bit of exposition on their various skills, and then on to the crux of the matter to cover the attack.

To the credit of the cast and filmmakers, they have most certainly had the requisite training and advising to have each character look the part, and feel as if they could indeed have had the talked-about military background. As the first shot rings out, the tension mounts, and the viewer is drawn yet further into the story.

13 Hours, while packed full of action, does not do anything over the time, nor does it dwell on the cruelties of war. It tells its story in an efficient manner, and then moves on, as would be the case in a country so used to conflict.

A fun action film, a shot of adrenaline and some history, this is one for anyone looking for action, war or just a plain escape. The film opens 19 February 2016 in South Africa.

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Star Wars: Episode VIII Begins Production

Rey took her first steps into a larger world in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and will continue her epic journey with Finn, Poe and Luke Skywalker in the next chapter of the continuing Star Wars saga, Star Wars: Episode VIII, which began principal photography at Pinewood Studios in London on February 15, 2016.

Star Wars: Episode VIII, which is written and directed by Rian Johnson and continues the storylines introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, welcomes back cast members Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Gwendoline Christie, and Andy Serkis. New cast members will include Academy Award® winner Benicio Del Toro, Academy Award® nominee Laura Dern, and talented newcomer Kelly Marie Tran.

Star Wars: Episode VIII is produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin and Tom Karnowski. Joining the production crew will be some of the industry’s top talent, including Steve Yedlin (Director of Photography), Bob Ducsay (Editor), Rick Heinrichs (Production Designer), Peter Swords King (Hair and Make-Up Designer), and Mary Vernieu (US Casting Director). They will be joining returning crew members Pippa Anderson (Co-Producer, VP Post Production), Neal Scanlan (Creature & Droid FX Creative Supervisor), Michael Kaplan (Costume Designer), Jamie Wilkinson (Prop Master), Chris Corbould (SFX Supervisor), Rob Inch (Stunt Coordinator), Ben Morris (VFX Supervisor), and Nina Gold (UK Casting Director).

Star Wars: Episode VIII is scheduled for release December 15, 2017.

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The largest Faith And Family Television Network In The World Returns To Africa

TBN will launch on DStv channel 343 on 4 March 2016 to DStv Premium, Extra, Compact, Family, Access and EasyView customers in South Africa and Lesotho. It will also launch to the rest of Africa via DStv’s Africa service soon after the March launch. Viewers will get to see the very best in local and international faith and family programmes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Trinity Broadcasting Networks (TBN) and Rhema have entered into a relationship agreement that sees TBN take over the current Rhema TV channel position on DStv. This is due to a shared vision to see every heart and life transformed and impacted through the power of the gospel, and also to see a significant rise in quality of Christian television for Africa. The existing programmes broadcasting on Rhema TV will move across to TBN’s channel.

Matthew Crouch, Chairman of Trinity Broadcasting Networks International said, ‘TBN has always been part of the Christian fabric of Africa and as we re-launch TBN on DStv in March, it will mark a significant 30 years of TBN broadcasting the Gospel in Africa.’

The TBN in Africa channel will be entirely independent of all ministries and Christian organisations in regards to ownership, operations and leadership of the Network. It will however work in close relationship with most South African and African ministries across many denominations, to enable the development of new variety Christian content and emerging ministries in order to create a platform for the very best in ministry, worship and Christian programmes from the continent.

TBN has for more than 42 years held the largest global footprint for any faith and family Christian television network, with 30 television networks featured on more than 5 000 television stations across 88 satellites, the Internet and thousands of cable systems around the world.

TBN in Africa is redefining Christian television and leading the way in a new, exciting era of authentic, credible Christian broadcasting. It has an unrivalled selection of the best African and international Christian ministry, lifestyle, music, youth shows, children’s entertainment, documentaries, movies and much more.

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Film Review

Zoolander 2: Review

It’s been 15 years since we were first introduced to Derek Zoolander, and now the character who brought us Blue Steele is back in Zoolander 2.

Backed by an all star cast, Derek and Hansel are summoned to Rome, to model once again. The plot is simple, some of the worlds most beautiful people are assassinated, and there is a link. Each has been trying to copy former world model Derek Zoolander’s Blue Steel look. Interpol recruits Derek (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson) to help them catch those responsible.

Zoolander 2 is in essence a film where you can suspend the use of your brain, and laugh. There’s nothing intelligent about it; no plot twists, no science to understand, and very little to keep track of. Sit back, and laugh. There is an ensemble cast of talented actors and the comedy moments are seldom just slapstick or toilet humour. It will leave you laughing, yet not thinking, by the end of the story.

While the film is certain to have its share of haters, and you certainly need to be in the mood for this sort of film, it’s one of those fun vices that almost anyone is sure to enjoy.

A fun romp, mindless fun, with a competent story, talented (albeit silly) cast, Zoolander 2 is sure to amuse a wide audience.

Zoolander 2 opens 11 March 2016 in South Africa.