Concussion (DVD): Review

Film

Based on actual events, Concussion delves deep into the world of injury in American Football, specifically looking at head trauma in players, and the resulting brain damage suffered from repeat concussions, during the course of play and training.

Following accomplished pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith), of Pittsburgh, as he uncovers the truth behind what is ailing older players.

Well presented, Concussion asks the viewer to think about the consequences. With excellent direction, the story unfolds, giving us a window into cover-ups, ignorance, and excuses. Much as Dr. Omalu faced resistance to his cause, so do we need to look beyond the films plot, and in so doing, learn the lesson the filmmakers hold for us, that we need to look after ourselves, when others turn a blind eye.

With a slightly slow start, as back stories are filled in, and we are introduced to the key players, the pace soon picks up as Omalu finds more and more evidence supporting his theory. A theory that puts him on a collision course with those who run this stable sport of American culture.

Concussion is an enjoyable film, but not one with a vast amount of plot twists. Enjoy it on a cold winter’s evening, assured of the fact that you and those who would in the past have been affected, are now safe due to the work of this tireless man.

Disc

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

Video

Video is encoded at a high average bitrate, with no visible artefacts on screen. Those with the necessary hardware or software have the option to scale up to larger or higher resolution screens, should they wish.

Colour are vibrant, save for when the story makes use of archive footage. There is no colour bleed, and blacks are deep.

Audio

The main soundtrack of the film is presented in a 5.1 mix, making use of the surround channels to further draw the viewer into the story. Use of the surround channels helps in several scenes, especially to convey the size of the stadiums and accompanying crowds. There are several other language choices available on the disc, as well as a 2.0 track for the director commentary.

Navigation

The disc menu is simple and basic, with a static background. Choices are easy to navigate.

Bonus Features

Feature Commentary With Director Peter Landesman: Commentaries are always a treasure trove of additional information, for filmmakers and for those looking to learn more about both the film and story, and this one by Peter Landesman does not dissapoint, as he shares a great deal of insight and detail.

Inside The True Story: A short video about how the film came about. Some input from actor Will Smith, talking about his ignorance to the dangers of the sport of American Football, and Dr. Omalu himself. An insightful, however brief, look into the events, and changed lives, that lead to the events in the film, and eventually the film itself.

Previews: Trailers for other movies based on true stories, namely: The Walk, Risen, Miracles From Heaven, Moneyball.

Secret In Their Eyes (DVD): Review

Film

Secret In Their Eyes has a hard-hitting beginning. A team of FBI investigators are suddenly thrown into a terrible furore when the teenage daughter of one of their own, has been brutally murdered. This murder matches the modus operandi of a serial killer from many years back.

With these harrowing events, Ray Kasten (Chiwetel Ijiofor) from the anti-terror unit steps back into the life of prosecutor Claire Sloane (Nicole Kidman), as he is determined to seek justice for the slain girl, daughter of Jessica Cobb (Julia Roberts).

Ray’s return brings with it many emotions; personal ones each of the characters he is close to, his superior, Claire and Jessica. He is driven, and determined, leading to much strife and conflict. While Claire and Jessica too carry their own burdens and secrets.

There is no doubt about the acting you can expect from such a top, talented cast, and they do not disappoint. The inter-personal relationships morph as the story progresses, doing a slalom through the various plot twists and turns. While the story is not overwhelmingly cerebral, it does leave the viewer guessing, trying to out think the investigation, as things progress.

Although the events of the story are hard-hitting, the film eschews brutality and gratuitous violence, instead sharing with us the emotional impact the murder has on others, and the psychological toll this all takes on one. This lets the cast shine as far as their acting talent goes, with the subtle nuances necessary to for such roles. Secret In Their Eyes is a gripping story, a film that will evoke debate as the end credits role, and leave on pondering their own reaction in similar circumstances.

Secret In Their Eyes, a must-see story that pulls out all the stops to deliver a gripping tale, with intriguing characters.

Disc

Secret In Their Eyes is available now, for purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

Video is encoded at a high average bitrate, with a clear and crisp image. Viewers with the necessary hardware or software will be able to scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen. Colours are vibrant, with no bleed.

Audio

Audio is presented in both a 2.0 and a 5.1 mix. It is encoded at a high bitrate, delivering clear sound and dialogue. Although the surround channel use is not excessive, it does enhance the on-screen world in scenes, and serve to draw the viewer further in to the story.

While there are two audio tracks on the disc, there is no option to select which track you wish to use, from the disc menu system. This leaves you having to use you DVD players controls to pick which track to play. The default is 5.1, however should you wish to use the stereo downmix, you might need to consult your player manual.

Navigation

Navigation is very simple, with a static image, and a choice between playing the entire feature or selecting scenes.

Bonus Features

There are no bonus feature on the disc, save for trailers for Solace, Viral and Triple 9.

Before We Go (DVD): Review

Film

Two strangers, Nick (Chris Evans, who also directs) and Brooke (Alice Eve) have a chance meeting in Manhattan, as their paths cross. They are both stuck in the city for the night. Each has some huge life decision they are pondering, and as the night progresses, they become each others trusted confidants.

Alice with her marital problems, needs to get home by morning. Nick, with ex-girlfriend problems, is hiding out trying to avoid the fact that after several years, this one that got away is now back in town.

Before We Go is a drama, about life and love. There is a romantic aspect to the story, and it’s not just between the two strangers who’s lives now laid bare to each other. As the night progresses though, each does learn several lessons, and truths, from the other.

While the film is also billed as a comedy, this is by no means a laugh a minute story. More like an awkward chuckle as Nick is being a gentleman, trying to help Brooke. That being said, there are a fair share of humorous scenes. Timed just right so as to quash the tension between the main characters, and the awkward feeling one gets watching the two.

With a story that doesn’t carry a plethora of plot twists, and is relatively easy to follow, the task now shifts to the actors to carry the weight of the film, and that they do. With multi-layered performances from both Evans and Eve, this tale of requited love is brought to life.

Before We Go, a story of reflection, that will leave a viewer pondering their own life and love, and how a few small decisions eventually lead one to a great journey in life. A film to be enjoyed with those you love.

Disc

Before We Go is available now, for purchase on disc, in South Africa.

Video

The video is encoded at a high bitrate, with no visible artefacts on screen. The image is crisp and stable, despite the entire film taking place at night. Blacks are deep and rich, and colours are vibrant (even given the slightly dulled tones of the film).

Audio

Audio is presented in a choice of 2.0 or 5.1 mixes. It is encoded at a decent bitrate, providing clear dialogue. While the story does not lend itself to much use of the surround channels, these do serve to expand the on-screen world, and further draw the viewer into the story. The 5.1 mix provides very clear dialogue from the centre channel.

Navigation

Navigation is basic, and static, but very easy to follow.

Bonus Features

There are unfortunately no bonus features on the disc, save for some previews for Room, Sleeping With Other People and Vir Altyd.

Nu Metro Takes The Warcraft Magic One Step Further

WarCraft Poster

Nu Metro Cinemas has joined forces with Geexpo for a once-in-a-lifetime 3-city event aimed at gamers, comic book fans, cinema fanatics and ‘cosplay’ aficionados in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban on Saturday, 4 June 2016. These striking events are in honour of WARCRAFT – the new movie based on the massively popular, cult video game (and book series) of the same name – which will hit Nu Metro Cinemas nationwide from Friday, 10 June 2016.

warcraft1

The Geexpo WARCRAFT events will take place on Saturday, 4 June at Nu Metro Emperor’s Palace (Jhb), Nu Metro GrandWest Casino (CT) and Nu Metro The Pavilion (Dbn). Access to each event promises ticketholders a unique evening of myth, magic and epic adventure – amplifying the cinema release for this highly anticipated fantasy adventure. Each event will include a pre-release screening of the movie, complimentary coke & popcorn, a ‘cosplay’ competition, various other give-aways, lots of special goodies to make any Warcraft-fan swoon, a Hearthstone exhibition and lots more.

warcraft2

Two worlds. One destiny… In WARCRAFT, the peaceful realm of Azeroth stands on the brink of war as its civilisation faces a fearsome race of invaders: Orc warriors fleeing their dying home, intent on colonising another. As a portal opens to connect the worlds, one army faces destruction and the other faces extinction. From opposing sides, two heroes are set on a collision course that will decide the fate of their family, their people and their home. So begins a spectacular saga of power and sacrifice in which war has many faces, and everyone fights for something.

warcraft3

Join a legion of heroes with Nu Metro on 4 June – and experience WARCRAFT ahead of its release in local cinemas. Step inside Azeroth and experience all the mysteries that the World of Warcraft has to offer. Be sure to wear your carefully crafted Blizzard costume to stand a chance of winning incredible ‘cosplay’ prizes.

WARCRAFT at Geexpo – Event Information

Date: Saturday, 4 June 2016

Time: From 18:00

Tickets: R150 – register via www.geexpo.co.za or at the door on the night (first come, first served)

Tickets include: entrance to the event, entrance to the WARCRAFT movie screening, medium coke and popcorn, countless goodies, giveaways and prizes.

Event Partners: Nu Metro Cinemas, UIP South Africa/Universal Pictures, Rockstar Energy Drink, Megarom Interactive, Gavotech IT Solutions, Takealot.com, Incredible Connection and Blizzard Entertainment.

For more cinema info and bookings, call 0861-CINEMA (234362) or go to numetro.co.za

DStv Compact Customers Across Africa Will Now Get Fox

FOX Networks Group (FNG) and MultiChoice today announce that DStv Compact customers will be able to enjoy the global entertainment channel, FOX (DStv channel 125) from 1 June 2016. Emmy Award® nominee and Golden Globe® winner Taraji P. Henson is set to make her first visit to South Africa in a five-day trip to Johannesburg, where she’ll do media interviews and meet and greet sessions with super-fans of the smash-hit show Empire.

FOX channel is a premier entertainment channel that prides itself with bringing ‘The Best, First’, with award winning, ground-breaking and critically acclaimed programming. The move to DStv Compact will significantly increase FOX’s reach to a wider audience, creating new fans of its riveting entertainment in the African market.

DStv Compact customers will get to experience the thrilling and exclusive premieres of the best shows on FOX within hours of the United States broadcast – and in brilliant HD. The hot lineup includes the popular and powerful hit television drama, Empire in which Taraji P. Henson portrays the feisty ‘Cookie Lyon’ with flashy fashion sense and witty remarks, opposite her ex-husband and the ruthless head of the Lyon empire, ‘Lucious Lyon’ played by Academy Award® nominee, Terrence Howard.

To coincide with her visit and to ensure viewers are all caught up on the show, DStv and FOX are offering DStv Compact customers a rebroadcast of the second season of Empire with double bill episodes starting on the weekends of 4-5 June, 11-12 June and 18-19 June – three episodes will air per day at 19:20 CAT, 20:10 CAT and 21:00 CAT.

The month of June will also see the premiere of the much anticipated second season of Wayward Pines on the 6that 21:00, from executive producer M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, The Visit), the 10-episode, psychological thriller picks up where it left off in the first season. Starring Jason Patric (Rush, Narc), two-time Academy Award® nominee Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, In America) and Emmy Award® and Golden Globe® nominee Hope Davis (American Crime, The Newsroom), the residents of Wayward Pines are still battling against the iron-fisted rule of the First Generation Dr. Theo Yedlin.

On the same night on 6 June at 21:50 Outcast, based on the Skybound/Image comic title by creator Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and artist Paul Azaceta, follows Kyle Barnes (Patric Fugit), a young man who has been plagued by demonic possession all his life. Now, with the help of the Reverend Anderson, a preacher with personal demons of his own, Kyle embarks on a journey to find answers and regain the normal life he lost. But what Kyle discovers could change his fate — and the fate of the world — forever.

“We are exceptionally thrilled at the opportunity to bring our content to even wider audiences in Africa so they get to experience the best content that is available on FOX, within hours of U.S. broadcasts. Fans of Empire are definitely in for a treat – Taraji P. Henson has been a fan favourite with South African audiences from the first season.” says Khosi Khanyile, Fox Africa Head of Marketing.

Aletta Alberts, GM for Content for MultiChoice commented: “During the FOX two-week open window special earlier this year, we received an overwhelming response from our Compact customers who enjoyed the FOX channel line-up. We believe that the fulltime addition of FOX with its excellent programming will enhance the entertainment experience of our Compact customers.”

For more on this superb line-up and award winning programming tune into the home of The Walking Dead, The Simpsons and more smash hit shows on FOX on DStv channel 125.

Alice Through The Looking Glass: Review

Once again, we join young Alice in that mystical world of marvel, known as Wonderland. As we catch up with her some years later, and her success in the real world, things soon lead her on a new quest to save the Mad Hatter.

Reprising her role as the title character Alice, Mia Wasikowska brings yet more life and delight with her acting. Whilst on the other hand, Johnny Depp has managed to reign in his performance as Hatter Tarrant Hightopp, making for a character that is much easier to to accept, and deserving of the pity that one would feel for him.

As the story moves from the every day world, to Wonderland itself, we are treated to some of the most amazing scenery and locations, thanks to some incredible effects. And it is here that we are introduced to the character of Time, played by Sacha Baron Cohen in what is sure to amount to one of his best roles yet.

Back in this second iteration are both Helena Bonham Carter as Iracebeth and Anne Hathaway as Mirana. Hathaway was indeed born to be a princess. Stephen Fry lends his voice to the grinning Cheshire cat, who along with several other characters is also back.

The story of Alice Through The Looking Glass is thoroughly enjoyable, and paired with talented acting, great direction and amazing effects, it is sure to thrill both young and old.

The small serving of some science fiction to go with all the fantasy is not too complicated that it will leave the younger audiences wondering about the plot, but adds just enough to spice up the plot, and of course set the stage for a few rather humorous moments.

Sadly, and not through any fault of the movie itself, but some cinemas are still lacking in the 3D department, with the picture being far too dim. Not to mention the inability to display the image in screen with the correct settings for the bars masking the screen, meaning that there is a portion of the image that is chopped off. Not too much, but noticeable and annoying, nonetheless.

Alice Through The Looking Glass opens 27 May 2016 in South African cinemas.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (BluRay): Review

Film

Whether you’ve seen the film in 2D, 3D, 4DX or Imax, fans the world over are going to want to own Star Wars: The Force Awakens, on DVD or BluRay.

Going by the fact that many people saw the film so much that they saw it in the cinema several times, this is sure testament to the rewatch value of the story. The film is fun, enjoyable, and worth multiple viewings. With so much action on screen, and so much fine detail in each scene, you are bound to notice something new each time.

Staying true to the root of the franchise, The Force Awakens stays just as enjoyable when seeing it again. For a spoiler free review on the film itself, see the SAMDB review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Disc

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is available now, on disc, for purchase in South Africa. Be sure to look about, as there are a few editions of this (one with some very nice packaging).

Video

Video is encoded at a very high bitrate, as should be the cast with a BluRay, and is to be expected from a Disney disc. There are no visible artefacts on screen. Blacks are deep, and colours vibrant. The overall video is stable and clear.

Audio

Audio is encoded at a high bitrate, with clear sound from each channel. While an Atmos soundtrack would not only have been great, but with a disc such as Star Wars, it is pretty much expected.

Navigation

Starting with the BB-8 icon as the disc loads, to a very detailed, yet easy to navigate menu system, a lot of thought and effort has gone in to designing this oft overlooked aspect of a disc release.

Bonus

There are no bonus features on the first BluRay disc in the box, just the main feature, and a way to choose a scene, language or subtitle.

The second disc however, contains a plethora of additional material and features.

Secrets Of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey – With a running time of just over an hour, this feature is a treasure trove of behind the scenes info, showing us the journey from pre-production all the way through to on-set.

A Story Awakens: The Table Read – The first full read of The Force Awakens script, with all the cast. Bringing together old and new, as they bring life to the characters.

Crafting Creatures – In a world such as Star Wars, there are so many diverse alien creatures, and droids of many sizes. This features visits those who produce these stunning beings, and shows how they are brought to life.

Building BB-8 – Likely, by far, the most loved character in the entire movie, we see how BB-8 came in to being. Seeing some of the techniques used to bring him to life on screen, and how he appeared to the actors on set, this feature is bound to be a favourite of many of the little droids fans.

Blueprint Of A Battle: The Snow Fight – A feature on the now popular, climactic battle, showing us how the actors trained for this, how the fight came about through choreography and the incredible set that was built for this location.

ILM: The Visual Magic Of The Force – A film such as Star Wars relies heavily on computer generated effects, so it is only fitting that we get to take a peek into the work environment of those who create those jaw dropping visuals.

John Williams: The Seventh Symphony – A look at the master of music himself, the legendary John Williams. He talks about the subtleties and changes to the score. In this behind the scenes peek, we also get to hear about each characters theme, and how the music drives the films emotion.

Deleted Scenes – Six scenes that were cut from the final film. This provides not only the opportunity to view those, but a chance to see how these would fit into the final film, had they not been removed.

It’s not too difficult, at least in most cases, to see why these might have been removed.

Force For ChangeThe Force For Change is a charitable initiative from Disney and Lucasfilm. Following the worldwide success of the first Star Wars in the 1970’s fans, industry professions and companies have used the power of the Star Wars community to help those in need.

This short video explains a bit more about the organisation, it’s main goals, and how Star Wars: The Force Awakens was also used to help this important cause.

Info – For those of you who wish to replay the warning about copyright, piracy and that you shouldn’t copy movies.

See Also

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

Q&A With John Boyega Of Star Wars

Q&A With Daisy Ridley Of Star Wars

Star Wars: Episode VIII Begins Production