Film Review

Jason Bourne: Review

With all the effort he applied to finding out about his past in the first three instalments of the franchise, Jason Bourne (David Webb) now knows exactly who he is. Still hunting for other information about Treadstone, and those involved, we once again join Matt Damon as title character Jason Bourne on another action packed, adrenaline fuelled ride, as Robert Ludlem’s highly skilled operative.

Joining Bourne this time, we once again see Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles), joined by CIA Director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones, being as authoritative as ever), and the young, driven Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander, bringing some femininity to her action scenes).

The film starts with a brief reminder of who Jason Bourne is, and then drops you right in to the action. It kicks off this rush of fights, chases and shootouts, interspersed with some hi-tech magic as Boure is tracked, but the pace never lets up. The action is intense, from start to finish, with impressive sequences, stunts and effects. Any action junkie’s dream.

While it does certainly pay to see the first three Bourne movie instalments, starring Matt Damon, forgiving the interlude that was The Bourne Legacy, one should not get too lost as the plot, while bringing many new revelations to the story, is not too overly complex. To wit, the story is a well assembled tale, not just mindless violence. Those who wish to just switch off though, can sit back and just enjoy the ride, with a story bringing so many action elements together in one film, and taking the audience on a journey to many varied locations around the world.

Brining Jason Bourne into this decade (even the end credit music by Moby – Extreme Ways, has been given a make-over), the film is sure to thrill audiences everywhere.

Jason Bourne opens 29 July 2016 in South African cinemas.

Jason Bourne DVD review, by SAMDB

Film Review

Lights Out: Review

Rebecca’s (Teressa Palmer) young brother Martin (Gabriel Bateman) is beginning to experience the same strange events that tested her sanity several years back. She sets about working to find out where this terror has come from, brining her to an eventual confrontation with an entity that has an attachment with their mother, Sophie (Maria Bello).

Lights Out is a horror. It builds tension, and pushes the viewer to scare themselves, eschewing conventional jump-scares and gimmicks to work at the subconscious. The film has an engrossing plot, coupled with some great acting and direction. Not to mention cinematography that is designed to make you think twice as to whether you have spotted something in a dark corner, or is this just a trick of light, much like the characters might experience.

For fans of horror, Lights Out skips the gore, evil monsters, and violence often associated with lower budget entries to the genre. While plot twists won’t leave you wondering what is happening, there are enough curves in the story to keep one guessing. There is some predictability, but none so obvious that you’ll figure the entire third act out before the halfway point of the film.

Displaying love for each other, the family that is the focus of the entity’s attention are you typical unit of kin. And it’s this mix, and many layers of relationship, that bulks up the story, and again sets Lights Out apart from other films in the horror genre.

A thoroughly engrossing story, that will scare you, and entertain you. Lights Out opens 22 July 2016 in South African cinemas.

dvd / blu-ray Review

Risen (DVD): Review


Set in Judea about 33 AD‚ and following a Romin Tribune on his quest to find the missing body of a crucified Jew‚ Risen shows us some other aspects of life taking place at the time of the crucifiction of Jesus Christ.

While much thought and research have gone in to the production of Risen‚ and with the main thread of the story being that of seeking to find if Jesus has been resurrected‚ the filmmakers do not push religion or Christianity on the viewer. The story holds value‚ whether you are a devout believer‚ or just someone looking for some entertainment for the.

There are moments where the Twelve Apostles seem to be portrayed as giggling bafoons‚ seemingly too jolly to take serious the horrific nature of the Roman oppression the land was suffering under at the time. But for the most part‚ the story follows a serious side‚ sharing the biblical details of the time and expanding on events that are often not the main focus when this story is told.

The recreation of the local geography and architecture of the time is astounding‚ and one can learn more about this in the bonus features.


Risen is available now‚ to purchase on disc‚ in South Africa.

Overall, the disc for Risen is of good quality, with a decent selection of extra features.


Video is encoded in a high bitrate. There are no visible artefacts. Colours are vibrant‚ with no colour bleed. Blacks are deep‚ with no visible noise.


Sound is encoded at a high average bitrate. The audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. Dialogue is clear on the centre channel‚ with use of the surround channels to expand the on-screen world‚ and further draw the viewer in to the story.

There are several choices for audio languages‚ and an even greater choice of subtitles.


Navigation is simple‚ and easy to follow. Menu backgrounds are static‚ with background music on the main menu.

Viewers can skip to a specific scenes‚ via the scene selection sub-menu‚ with these presented as large thumbnails.

Bonus Features

Feature Commentary with Patrick and Paul Aiello: An insight in to the whole process of the film. A great resource for those who wish to learn more about filmmaking, those who are looking to learn more about how Risen was made, and an open ticket to behind the scenes of the whole process.

The Mystery of the Resurrection: Making Risen: More behind the scenes magic, of how the location of the film were created, how the story came to be, and was brought to life, the location, the set design, and the various creative choices made by the filmmakers in order to tell the story yet keep true to historical and biblical texts.

Creating A.D. Jerusalem: A very interesting look at how the cities landscape and architecture were created in the film from the use of existing buildings and landscapes‚ parts of ruins‚ and the seamless integration of computer generated set extensions.

A wonderful insight for an audience‚ and budding filmmakers alike‚ bringing a sort of grounding to the locations we get to experience in such detail throughout the film.

Script to Screen: The journey of the film‚ starting with the initial idea‚ and the efforts put in by filmmakers to bring that to fruition.

Previews: Carrying the theme of miracles and prayer further, there are previews for Miracles from Heaven, War Room, Where Hope Grows, Heaven is for Real, When the Game Stands Tall, and The Remaining (Read the SAMDB Review of The Remaining here). While these can not be skipped on a per-trailer basis, you can fast forward.

Film Review

Ghostbusters: Review

Through the deeds of a slightly deranged, evil resident of Manhattan, ghost have started to invade. It is up to paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yats (Melissa McCarthy), nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), and subway worket Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) to fend off these spectral entities, and band together to form The Ghostbusters.

With all the controversy in the media, and hordes of upset fans, it should be stated that this is a remake of the old classic. There are a good deal of in-jokes, poking fun at the fact that the story was told way back in 1984. It is the fact that the film does not take itself too seriously that goes a long way to forgiving the remake. Many an upset fan would have been appeased had this been a sequel, or even a parallel team.

Putting aside the trouble with fans (and their qualms are likely quite justified), this is a good film. Some in-jokes, and one-liners are only funny to those who have seen the original, but at this stage, 32 years on, are there really many who haven’t? The effects in some places do look a bit dated, whether a deliberate homage to the first film, or just to fit in with the overall style and feel of the story and comedy.

The four girls on the Ghostbusters’ team are funny, each bringing their own character quirks to the fore, leading to a few humorous moments. Let’s not forget Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), as the character with the funniest, albeit the most awkward, physical comedy presented.

Parents are cautioned that the opening scenes might be a bit too intense for young ones, due to their frightening nature. The rest of the film however calms down to ghost creatures where the focus is more on actions and comedy, rather than horror.

Ghostbusters is a fun, light hearted story, which can be enjoyed by the entire family. The plot, while good, will not tax the intellect, the nostalgic effects, coupled with humour will keep everyone amused, and all-in-all, these many items add up to a thoroughly enjoyable experience, quashing preconceived notions that a remake can be nothing but terrible.

Ghostbusters opens in South African cinemas 29 July 2016

Film Review

The Legend Of Tarzan (Review)

Having returned‚ and become acclimated to a life in London‚ John Clayton / Tarzan (Alexander Skarsgard) is called upon to once again venture in to the jungle. Persueded by George Washington Williams (Samual L. Jackson)‚ Tarzan sets off to investigate a mining encampment. Love of his life Jane (Margot Robbie in a role that is‚ for all intents‚ the total opposite of her Harley Quinn from The Suicide Squad) follows‚ and soon they will all face off against the rather evil Leon Rom (Christoph Weiz in yet another one of his villainous roles).

The Legend Of Tarzan looks at the story we know so well‚ and which has been told so many countless times‚ and moves the timeframe forward some. While we do get some history in the form of flashbacks to the origin of Tarzan‚ and some exposition through character dialogue‚ we are instead treated to a new part of the legend’s life.

Yet‚ while there is bound to be a great following‚ and a large audience for the film‚ it sadly falls rather short of expectations. A great cast‚ and superb cinematography‚ coupled with some incredibly amazing computer effects and a message about slavery that is bound to strike a cord with racial tensions currently flooding news and social media‚ the story and it’s execution are rather lacking. For audiences who are going merely for the glits and sparkle of Tarzan swining through the jungle and rescuing his Jane‚ this is sure to satisfy. For those who are looking for a story and perhaps some deeper meaning to the legend‚ they will be sorely dissapointed.

The Legend Of Tarzan opens 15 July 2016 in South African cinemas.


Triple 9 (DVD): Review


Triple 9 or officer down. A tried and tested method and plot idea for a movie. This is the premise of Triple 9 where a gang of criminals use a downed officer as a distraction to commit a heist on the other side of town.

With a film stacked so heavily with a cast of top names one would hope to acheive more in the form of a story. One can’t fault the acting nor the action sequences (which is a good thing with this being an action movie). These sadly do not make up for a lack of a good plot. The premise isn’t bad but the exectution falls short.

Triple 9 lacks to on the side of tension-building. Where the plot twists could have built this with audiences‚ leaving the viewer to try and out-guess the characters‚ or in the very least to add a little dose of shock and awe. A definite missed opportunity.

Fun action sequences‚ and while few‚ they do give the adrenal gland a kick. A great cast‚ but in the end‚ this is not going to push any bounds as far as thinking goes. Enjoy the action packed escape‚ on a day when you can no longer brain.


Triple 9 is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.


Video is encoded at a high average bitrate, with no visible artefacts on screen. There is no visible colour bleed, and blacks are deep.

Users with the appropriate hardware or software can scale the picture up to a larger or higher resolution screen, should they so desire.


Audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 or 2.0 mix. These are encoded at a high bitrate, with clear dialogue on the centre channel of the 5.1 mix.


Navigation is simple and static. There is an option to select a specific disc chapter via chapter number or the use of a motion thumbnail.

Bonus Features

There are unfortunately no bonus features on this disc, other than trailers for Truth, Demolition and the Lego Marvel Avengers game. These can be skipped.



It’s Time To Get To Know The Suicide Squad

suicide squad banner

About Suicide Squad

One of the most anticipated films of 2016, SUICIDE SQUAD is releasing on 5 August 2016. From director David Ayer (“Fury,” “End of Watch”) comes “Suicide Squad,” starring Oscar nominee Will Smith (“Ali,” “The Pursuit of Happyness”), Oscar winner Jared Leto (“Dallas Buyers Club”), Margot Robbie (“The Wolf of Wall Street,” “Focus”), Joel Kinnaman (Netflix’s “House of Cards”) and Oscar nominee Viola Davis (“The Help,” “Doubt”).

It feels good to be bad… Assemble a team of the world’s most dangerous, incarcerated Super Villains, provide them with the most powerful arsenal at the government’s disposal, and send them off on a mission to defeat an enigmatic, insuperable entity. U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller has determined only a secretly convened group of disparate, despicable individuals with next to nothing to lose will do. However, once they realize they weren’t picked to succeed but chosen for their patent culpability when they inevitably fail, will the Suicide Squad resolve to die trying, or decide it’s every man for himself?

Written and directed by Ayer based on the characters from DC Comics, the film also stars Jai Courtney (“Insurgent”), Jay Hernandez (“Takers”), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (“Thor: The Dark World”), Ike Barinholtz (“Neighbors”), Scott Eastwood (“Fury”), Cara Delevingne (“Paper Towns”), Adam Beach (“Cowboys & Aliens”), and Karen Fukuhara in her feature film debut. It is produced by Charles Roven and Richard Suckle, with Zack Snyder, Deborah Snyder, Colin Wilson and Geoff Johns serving as executive producers.

Character Bios


Viola DavisA hard-as-nails career U.S. intelligence officer who makes bad things happen to bad people, Amanda Waller is the secret commander of the Suicide Squad and cares only about the operation at hand—everyone is expendable when serving the greater good. She puts the inaugural Squad together in order to attempt an impossible mission, ensuring herself easy patsies to take the blame and zero personal accountability if things go wrong.


Joel KinnamanAmanda Waller’s second-in-command, Colonel Rick Flag is the best Tier One Shooter the armed forces has produced, which makes him even more suspicious of a home-grown cannon like Deadshot. A military man through and through, Flag is in charge of keeping this disparate group in line.

DEADSHOT (Will Smith)

Will SmithDeadshot—aka Floyd Lawton—is a career mafia hit man and possibly the best marksman in the world. A stone cold pro who works alone, trusting no one, his one soft spot is his young daughter, Zoe, whom both Amanda Waller and Colonel Rick Flag use as means to exploit the precision gunman into joining their mission.

THE JOKER (Jared Leto)

Jared LetoChaos personified, The Joker is incredibly dangerous and revels in every single moment of the chaos he creates. Batman’s greatest, most unpredictable adversary, he is also Arkham Asylum’s most infamous resident, as well as the love of Squad member Harley Quinn’s life.

HARLEY QUINN (Margot Robbie)

Margot RobbieHarley Quinn—aka Dr. Harleen Quinzel—is a beautiful young psychiatrist who treats the criminally insane patients at Arkham Asylum, including The Joker…until he turns the tables on her. As crazy as she is desirable, Harley views life as one big, chaotic joke.


Jai CourtneyAn Australian roughneck, Captain Boomerang is devious, scheming and ruthless … and that’s his good side. Utilizing an assortment of his trademark weapon—razor-sharp, incendiary and electrically charged boomerangs—his wise-cracking attitude and short fuse often irritate the other Squad members and escalate the already dangerous situation.

DIABLO (Jay Hernandez)

Jay HernandezHis face bearing a tattooed skull, this one-time gang member can create and manipulate fire to do his bidding. But Diablo is haunted by the misdeeds of his past, and if he allows his temper to flare, there’s no telling how much destruction he might cause.

KILLER CROC (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje)

Adewale Akinnuoye-AgbajeA huge man for whom evolution is working backward, Killer Croc’s square jaw, cracked and scaly skin and toothy grin evoke the most fearsome of reptiles, but it’s his skill at surviving and manoeuvring in dark, dank, filthy sewers that makes him a deadly foe when he’s in his element.


Cara DelevingnePossessed by Enchantress—a diaphanous, ethereal, wickedly beautiful witch as old as time—June Moone struggles to hold on to her humanity while being overpowered by the seductress. And as long as Amanda Waller quite literally holds Enchantress’s heart, June remains a servant to both women, and the siren remains at the whim of her captor until she can rise to reclaim all that she has lost.

SLIPKNOT (Adam Beach)

Adam BeachSlipknot – aka Christopher Weiss – is a master in the use of elaborate ropes and tackle, including unbreakable ones. This trained assassin can climb anything.

KATANA (Karen Fukuhara)

Karen FukuharaDressed in Samurai-inspired, street fighter garb and ballistic facemask, Katana wields the Soultaker, a large Samurai sword that traps the souls of all its victims. A cold-blooded killer, she serves as a member of the Squad, but is also there as an associate of Colonel Rick Flag to keep the others in line.

The Other Players

CAPTAIN GRIGGS (Ike Barinholtz)

The redneck leader of the prison guards at Belle Reve Federal Penitentiary, Captain Griggs is a vain and tyrannical bureaucrat who enjoys the power his position affords him and is no friend to the inmates he oversees.


The leader of the Navy SEAL team assigned to the Squad’s mission, Lieutenant “GQ” Edwards – along with fellow SEALs Anvil, Gomez and Kowalski – wears his confidence as easily as his personal armoury of weapons.


One of The Joker’s madcap assemblage of henchmen, Frost is his right-hand man and loyal aide-de-camp, always at his boss’s side, ready, willing and able to do his bidding.


The Eyes of the Adversary relentlessly battle the Squad in order to keep them from their mission. These former humans, now possessed by a magical, otherworldly entity, resemble a soulless heap of black carbuncle with a head composed of a misshapen mass of eyes.


An unimaginable evil as old as time itself, Incubus’s ethereal, menacing power knows no bounds. Able to regenerate again and again, becoming stronger each time, his inhuman arsenal of weapons includes massive bolts of energy that can shear a Blackhawk in half.

Key Sites


A special prison designed to hold the most violent super-powered criminals, Belle Reve Federal Penitentiary is where U.S. intelligence officer Amanda Waller goes to hand-pick the Squad for an impossibly dangerous mission. In the middle of nowhere, it’s surrounded by a vast bayou of cypress trees and swampland, with only a long, bridged causeway connecting it to the outside world.


Surrounded by the natural jewel box of a glistening, crystalline limestone cave, the Skull Chamber is a prehistoric chamber deep inside the Earth. Like Enchantress herself, its beauty belies what lurks beneath its irresistible façade.


Home to Batman, the greatest vigilante hero of all time, Gotham City also houses Arkham Asylum, where—thanks to Batman—the most dangerous, criminally insane villains reside.


Arkham Asylum is Gotham City’s impenetrable prison, which houses its most insanely dangerous – and dangerously insane – criminals, such as The Joker. This is where The Joker meets Dr. Harleen Quinzel, aka Harley Quinn.


This Midwestern locale is the site of the Suicide Squad’s inaugural mission.

dvd / blu-ray Review

The Curse Of Downers Grove (DVD): Review


Billed as a teen angst thriller, about an apparent high school curse that will claim the life of a senior each year, The Curse of Downers Grove tells the story of Chrissie (Bella Heathcote, bringing her sexy, resonant voice to the role. Last seen in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and will be in the upcoming Fifty Shades Darker).

Chrissie, a high school senior, is sceptical of the curse. Having dealt with enough family turmoil already, and trying to keep her brother in check, wants nothing to do with crazed stories of indian burial grounds and curses. Her best friend Tracy (Penelope Mitchell), however, believes she will be the next victim of the curse, and focuses far too much energy on trying to find out who will be next.

While The Curse of Downers Grove is billed as a horror / thriller, it is sadly lacking in both aspects. There is no tension, no foreboding, and not too much mystery. The antagonist comes in the form of Chuck (Kevin Zegers, Gracepoint and Gossip Girl). But Chuck is a merger of every clichéd and stereotypical high school bully, from any mediocre teen movie. Chuck is just a bully. There is less time spent on his character development than on Chrissie’s. And sadly Chrissie doesn’t get too much either, save for a few flashbacks and visions.

A straight-forward plot means that viewers’ intellectual muscles are not going to be too stretched. There are no plot twists to speak of, and the story merely ambles along ticking off the checkbox of what they need to show and what they can skip in the bid to convey the premise of the film.

The Curse of Downers Grove sadly falls short of each genre it hoped to dip in to, landing in the no-man’s land between each. There was a lot of potential for a story such as this, even with it been a tried and tested formula, but this one is left wanting.


The Curse Of Downers Grove is available now, to purchase on disc, in South Africa.


Video is encoded at a high average bitrate. There are no visible artefacts on screen. There is no colour bleed, and blacks are dark.

While there are some scenes that choose a different colour palette than the rest of the feature, for storytelling purposes, for the most part, colours are rich and vibrant.


The main audio is presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, with a 2.0 mix available through the player menu only. There is no option on the disc menu to select this.

Audio is encoded at a high average bitrate, with clear dialogue on the surround mix. While not used extensively, the surround channels do add to the on-screen action, and serve to further draw the viewer in to the story, and expand the story world.


Navigation is a basic, static setup, with some background music.

There is an option to jump to specific disc chapters, with video thumbnails. The menu option to return to the main menu is slightly misleading, in that one would think it would play the main feature, so viewers should be aware of this.

Bonus Features

There are unfortunately no bonus features on the disc, other than trailers for Sleeping With Other People, Solace and the game Doom at the beginning. These can be skipped.

dvd / blu-ray Review

Zootropolis (BluRay): Review


Zootropolis (Zootopia), an idyllic city where we get to watch a detective story play out. A story of corruption and betrayal in a city of anthropomorphic animals, and where life mirrors the daily struggle we are all accustom to.

Zootropolis is another of those Disney greats for the entire family. There’s an adult detective tale for the grown-ups, and there is a cute children’s tale for the little ones. Sans anything too scary or dramatic, everyone is sure to enjoy the film and get a laugh or two.

While the plot is an engaging one, it is not too complex that it will lose the attention of younger viewers. This being said, it is also not one that will spoon-feed, so adults should have their viewing needs satisfied by the few twists and turns in the story. Being a Disney film, we also get to share in an inspirational message, how anyone, no matter their size or background, can achieve their dream if they work hard enough for it. Adding to the feel good vibe of the film, this is not too much to the fore that it overwhelms the entertainment value or main story.

On the visual side of things, with Zootropolis being a 3D animated feature, there are few who will be left wanting. From the various environments and habitats to the vast cityscape of Zootropolis itself, and the streets of the city, the attention to detail is sure to astound even the most ardent viewer. The vibrant colours and hive of activity bring the animals and city to life, and support an already engrossing story.

The end credit sequence is a treat, with the song Try Everything by Shakira, played with appearances by various of the film characters. Stay for these.

Zootropolis is another of those fun family stories, that young and old, can watch again and again. An experience for the entire family, and showing once again, that Disney has it’s finger on the pulse of wholesome veiwing.


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


As is to be expected from a Disney Blu-Ray, the disc is encoded at a high bitrate. There are no visible artefacts on screen, and users with the appropriate hardware or software can scale up to a larger or higher resolution screen.

Video colours are rich and vibrant, with no bleed. Blacks are deep. There are no issues in fast paced scenes.


Audio is presented in a DTS-HD 7.1 soundtrack, with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack for descriptive audio. This too is encoded in a high bitrate. There is an option for subtitles for hearing impaired too.

Sound is clear and crisp, with no panning issues.

Notable in it’s absence is an Atmos option.


Navigation is simple to follow, with small (non-spoiler) clips from the film as a moving background, well integrated into the menu system. Menu transitions are similar, even including a loading icon in line with the theme of the disc.

An option for scene selection is available, for those who wish to jump to a particular part of the main feature.

Bonus Features

Research: A True-Life Adventure – Where it all began, starting at the initial idea for a film that featured animals with clothing, in a city, with lives akin to those of humans. About how the story of Zootropolis came about, the research involved in bringing this dream to the big screen.

This featurette gives some insight into the process of creating Zootropolis, and provides an brief introduction to those involved.

Thor Origin Of An Animal Tale – Starting with some pre-visualisations, and storyboard images, then the birth of the ideas. With insights and some input from producer John Lasseter.

We also get to learn how Disney has moved from the 2D hand drawings to the cutting edge of 3D animation. A short mention of some deleted scenes, and discarded concepts might interest some.

Zoology: The Roundtables – Given with a brief introduction by Ginnifer Goodwin (who plays lead character Judy Hopps), this includes three featurettes on talks conducted about characters, environments and animation. This is a great insight for those interested in animated story creation.

Scoretropolis – Filmed on the Eastwood Scoring Stage at Warner Brothers, we are presented with a brief insight in to how the music for Zootropolis was scored, and how it relates to the film, and fits in to each scenes. An interesting aspect is shared, showing the improvised instruments used to create unique sounds.

Z.P.D. Forensic Files – Presented with a noir like narration, we get to look at the Z.P.D files, which give us a look at a few of the easter eggs in the film. While there are only a few highlighted here, there are many others said to be in the main feature, meaning viewers are sure to find a few new ones on each respective viewing.

“Try Everything” Music Video By Shakira – The music video by Shakira, featured on the soundtrack and in the main feature. While live footage of the singer is mixed with footage of the film, there are no spoilers. This is presented in a 2.0 Dolby Digital mix, but could have been even better as a 5.1 or 7.1 mix, for those with large home theatre setups, and fans of Shakira.

Deleted Characters – A short look at those characters planned for the film, but who eventually did not make the cut. We are also given some insight in to how character ideas morphed as production of the film progressed. Another insight for those interested in the production process, and animation projects.

Info – For those who wish to read all the copyright warnings again.

Sneak Peeks – Replay the trailers and promos for Disneyland Paris, the Inside Out game for Disney Infinity, and the Pixar collaboration for Finding Dory (in South African cinemas at this time).

While there is no ability to jump straight to one of those, viewers can skip forward.