Mr Peabody & Sherman: Review

Starting in the 1950’s and 60’s as a television series, the characters of Mr. Peabody and Sherman came about.

Mr. Peabody, a talking dog how was never adopted as a puppy. He wins the right, in court, to adopt a human child. This joy comes to him in the form of Sherman, whom he tries to raise in the best possible way, and prepare him for the world. Mr. Peabody is an acclaimed scientist, consulting for many governments and winning countless awards, and it’s this genius that prompts him to create The WABAC, a time machine he uses to take Sherman to different historic events, in order to teach him first hand what he will be learning in school.

Following an incident at school, where Sherman bites a girl in his class, Mr. Peabody invites her family to his house in order to make amends and prevent Sherman from being taken away from him. The two children get bored, and against Mr. Peabody’s instructions, they take the WABAC for a ride, and of course, things go wrong.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman is one of those animated stories that has plenty for the younger viewers, and loads of laughs for the adults. The history puns are thrown about thick and fast as the engrossing tale unfolds, with many interesting characters, and caricatures of those they represent from the past.

The plot is simple enough for the younger audience to follow, yet there are enough twists to keep the adults guessing. This is a film the whole family will enjoy, and anyone who is looking for an escape to have a few laughs, with a touch of sci-fi, adventure and drama in the mix.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman opens 20 March 2014 in South Africa.

Need For Speed: Review

It began in 1994 with a game from Electronic Arts (EA), The Need For Speed was first released on the 3DO, and then ported to DOS on the PC, PlayStation and Sega Saturn. The game included racing exotic cars, impressive audio and video for the day, and introduced us to police pursuits, where players would race head-to-head while the police force chased them.

A slew of games followed, across many gaming platforms, with a new incarnation released every year since that initial release.

And now, to the joy of gamers around the world, we are finally presented with Need For Speed, the movie.

Tobey Marshell (Aaron Paul) works at the family garage he inherited from the family. On his off time he partakes in the illegal street racing in the area, in a bid to gather enough winnings to save the shop from financial ruin, with the bank after him, and staff to pay.

Racing against a long time rival, things go wrong, and Marshell ends up in prison for a 2 year stint. He thinks of nothing but vengeance, and so begins the story. Cue racing, action and some awesome cars.

Need For Speed is not just about driving fast with loud music and special effects. All the car stunts were performed for the camera, with no CG. There is a plot to the film as well, and one that is engrossing, and full of drama. It’s not overly complex, but streets ahead of other such movies in this genre.

The cars are amazing, listing many of the game favourites, and those who have driven the Need For Speed worlds will recognise many little snippets of scenery, not to mention a few of the car stunts performed by Marshell on his adventure.

Good story, fun stunts, great exotic cars, and an engrossing story.

An adrenaline filled ride of drama and exotic cars at full speed. Need For Speed opens 20 March 2014 in South African cinemas.

Those looking to get a feel for driving exotic cars, at high speed, while evading police, might want to try their hand at the free online Need For Speed: World game for PC.

The Lego Movie: Review

A delightful tale, imagined by a child, comes to life on screen with the one of the most widely acquired toy in the world. Lego, loved by children, and still used by adults. Those bricks that can make anything come to life.

The Lego Movie tells the story of an ordinary Lego man, thought to be the MasterBuilder. He embarks on a quest to stop an evil tyrant who is gluing the Lego world bricks together, making them permanent.

Anyone who has ever heard of Lego (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?) will love this film. There is a barrage of in-jokes from all the popular movies of the past few decades, and appearances by a whole host of characters we all know and love, from Batman (in a hilarious parody), to Wonder Woman, and appearances by the Star Wars team.

The Lego Movie is one of those you need to see a few times in order to catch the fast paced barrage of humour sent your way. The main story isn’t too complex for the little one’s in the family, yet will keep the adults entertained as well. It’s clear to see why there are already talks of a sequel.

A fun filled, laughter inducing, feel good film. See it a few times.

The Lego Movie opens 14 march 2014 in South Africa.

I, Frankenstein: Review

I, Frankenstein, the tale of the monster of Victor Frankenstein 200 years on. Having wondered the Earth after the death of his creator. Following an incident where he kills a group of demons, he is recruited by the gargoyles to fight in a war that has raged for generations, being the one who is able to kill each of the warring parties, due to his not having a soul.

The film is short, and thankfully so. The plot is simple in theory, yet you are treated to basically one long special effects fight between the two groups of creatures, filled with sparkly orange and blue lights that signify when one of each side does – blue for gargoyle and orange for demon.

It’s a pity that such actors as Bill Nighy and Yvonne Strahovski should appear in something like this. For the viewer looking for the story of Mary Shelley’s creation, it’s best to look elsewhere.

Prisoners (DVD): Review

The Film

How far would you go to save your child? Keller Dover (Hugh Jackman) goes far, crossing the line. With Detective Loki (Jake Gyllenhaal) close on his heels. With Dover’s daughter and friend missing, Prisoners is a drama about family, and loved ones, and an intense thriller.

Plot twists and red herrings a-plenty, the police pursue multiple leads, Keller Dover follows his own leads, and they all come together in one of the most unpredicable endings of late.

Prisoners is well acted, and well written. The phenomenal cast bring the characters to life on-screen, while the editing and setting bring that feeling of foreboding that chills us all.

For anyone interested in a dramatic thriller, Prisoners is one ride that will suck you in, and leave you wanting more.

The Disc

The disc is encoded at a high bitrate, meaning there are no on-screen artefacts, and should the viewer have an appropriate system, it can be scaled up to an HD screen. Sound is mixed in 5.1 audio, but this type of story does not lend itself to much use of the surrounds. Some scenes however create a great atmospheric effect, drawing the viewer into the scene, and making you part of the setting.

There are no special features on the disc, but at just under two and a half hours, there is likely not much room left on the DVD for bonus material, and it’s better to have the main title encoded for clarity, than to try squeeze more onto the disc.

Prisoners is available now in South African stores.

Rush (DVD): Review

The Film

Rush, the story of formula one rivals Niki Lauda (Daniel Bruhl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth); Lauda the perfectionist and Hunt the charismatic.

Set in the golden age of formula one, this true story shows the two greats from their beginnings through their meteoric rise to each becoming world champion. Rush explores just how far we will go to achieve our goals, and be the best, sometimes at a great cost to ourselves, and others.

The leads totally capture the essence and physicallity of those they are portraying, and are sure to do Formula One fans proud.

Rush is a story of rivals and friendship, and how the one you might most dispose, could be the one that drives you.

The Disc And Bonus Features

The disc is encoded at a high, and can be upscaled in software to HD for those with supported systems and screens. There are no visible artefacts.

Sound is a Dolby Digital mix, and uses the surrounds to place the viewer in the many races depicted in the film. The non-racing scenes use these to expand the auditory field, bringing the scene alive.

There is a good collection of bonus features on the disc, a great collection for a DVD at that.

Deleted Scenes

These deleted scenes, some short, fill in some of the story, but one can see how these would have changed the pacing of the film. A nice addition for when you have see the story as the director intended.

The Making Of Rush

A great collection of the process of bringing the story of the two races to screen, the development of the characters, and their respective nuances, to the various events and supporting characters.

One featurette includes the search for the two leads, and the process behind finding the ideal actors to be those inconic men.

The Real Story Of Rush

Three short featurettes that take us back to how racing used to be, the cars, the rivalry and putting all on the line, risking death, for that win.

Rush is a great story, with a vast collection of bonus features, and is available now in South African stores.

American Hustle: Review

American Hustle, the story of a con man, Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) and seductive partner, Sydney Prosser (Amy Adams), and how they get embroiled in an operation by the FBI, forcing them help trap the corrupt of the Jersey underworld, and mafia.

Bale brings-it with his performance as Rosenfeld, and Amy Adams plays the partner with aplomb. Rosenfeld’s ditsy, needy wife, Rosalyn provides a few of the funnier moments of the film, including a powerful scene of confrontation between the two woman in Rosenfelds life. Rosalyn is played to perfection by the unstoppable Jennifer Lawrence

Set in the 70s, there’s a sense of nostalgia to the story, when times were simpler. Plenty of plot twists, the right mix of drama and humour, American Hustle is a must see, and deserving of it’s many award nominations.

American Hustle opens 28 February 2014 in South Africa.

Gravity (Blu-Ray): Review

The Film

The Gravity Blu-Ray pack contains both the 3D and 2D versions, each on their own disc. The main feature is in 1080p, with superb picture quality and stunning audio. The minute details visible in some of the more intense scenes will show off any HD setup, and the sound mix will give your surround system a proper work out. Those viewing the movie on anything short of a 5.1 setup are missing out on so much, as the sound, and music, form part of the story narration as they sweep from one side of the room to the other.

It is clear to see why Gravity has garnered world-wide praise, and nominations, and wins, for so many awards.

Read the SAMDB Review on Gravity.

Bonus Features And Disc

As for bonus features. This is how you present a disc with value to your viewers. With close on 3 hours of additional footage, behind the scenes, short films, and shot break-downs, there is certainly a lot for the film enthusiast and filmmaker alike.

The Collision Point documentary, on cleaning up all the debris in space, lest the events of Gravity become a reality, is very interesting, and points out the lack of foresight in the early days of the space race, and what is now being done to fix this problem. Narrated by Ed Harris, how is the voice of Mission Control in the movie.

The short film Aningaaq, the reply and other-side of the radio conversation of Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a great companion to a pivotal part of the film, and played with the introduction by Jonas and Alfonso Cuaro’on, showing the innocence on the other end of the life and death struggle.

The disc also contains a plethora of behind the scenes, and making-of featurettes. These can be played on a playlist, or viewed individually, and provide an incredible amount of information and insight into everything from the physicality of creating a micro-gravity environment, so the actors as they needed to act and react in the void of space, the unique lighting and special effects, and a huge amount on the development of the film.

Gravity is available now in South African outlets.

Guardians of the Galaxy – Releasing 1 August In South Africa

From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team—the Guardians of the Galaxy. An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer. But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand—with the galaxy’s fate in
the balance.

Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which first appeared in
comic books in Marvel Super-Heroes, Issue #18 (Jan. 1969), stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as the voice of Groot, Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime Rael and Benicio del Toro as The Collector.

James Gunn is the director of the film with Kevin Feige producing, and Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jeremy Latcham, Alan
Fine and Stan Lee serve as executive producers. The story is by Nicole Perlman and James Gunn, with screenplay by James Gunn. Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” releases in S.A. theatres on August 1, 2014.

Catch Clinet Eastwood’s Son In A Surf Movie Opening This Friday

Moviegoers can see Clint Eastwood’s son Scott Eastwood in the new surfing movie ‘The Perfect Wave’, which opens on 28 February 2014. The film, in which Scott plays kiwi surfer Ian McCormack, tells the true story of a rebellious young man’s journey as he searches for the meaning of life. At the heart of the film is McCormack’s near-death experience, which changes his life forever. Also starring in ‘The Perfect Wave’ is former Charlie’s Angel, Cheryl Ladd,

“Ian McCormack is currently in South Africa to promote the film and talk about the incident that impacted his life,” says Bruce Macdonald, director and producer of ‘The Perfect Wave’. “It has been a great privilege to work with such an up-and-coming talented actor like Scott, and to have a seasoned professional like Cheryl Ladd on board. Ian McCormack’s story of redemption is an important one, and his story has been brought to life in the most authentic and exciting way by a talented cast.”

Scott Eastwood was born in Monterey,California, but spent the majority of his grade and high school years in Hawaii. From an early age, he excelled in drama. After spending summers with his father and then eventually living with him, the young Eastwood felt compelled to pursue a career in acting. Thanks to his father’s love of jazz, he also learned to play the saxophone.

The 27-year-old bears a striking resemblance to his famous father Clint, from the hair line to the one-sided grin. He is following in his father’s footsteps in the film industry and already has more than 17 titles to his name,including ‘Trouble with the Curve’, ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D’ and ‘Epic’. In addition, Scott appeared in ‘Invictus, ‘Gran Torino’,‘Flags of Our Fathers’, ‘An American Crime’, the swimming biopic ‘Pride’, and another surfing movie ‘Chasing Mavericks’. More recently, he starred alongside Brad Pitt in the war film ‘Fury’.

Starring as McCormack’s mother is Cheryl Ladd, who is best known for her role as Kris Munroe in the hit television series Charlie’s Angels, a character she took on when she replaced Farah Fawcett in 1977.  Ladd landed her first movie role in the 1973 film Jamaica Reef.  Over the last decade or so, Ladd has appeared in several television series, including ‘CSI: Miami’ (2009), ‘NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service’ and ‘Chuck’ in2011. Her recent film career includes ‘Her Best Friend’s Husband’ (2002),’Eve’s Christmas’ (2004), ‘Though None Go With Me’ (2006), ‘Baggage’ (2008) and’Love’s Resounding Courage’ in 2011.

Following the call of wild adventure, McCormack and his friend start their journey in the outback of Australia and find themselves in a radical cultural shift in Bali, Indonesia. McCormack falls in love with a beautiful Dutch girl Anneka, in Bali. He leaves his friends and the couple’s next stop is the beautiful coastline of South Africa where Ian confuses Anneka’s free spirit with betrayal. He follows her to the island paradise famous for its legendary outer reef, but discovers that she is gone. Alone, he waits for his perfect wave, but then he has an accident that makes him question his faith.

‘The Prefect Wave’ premiered in New Zealand and Australia in January and early February. The cast also includes Rosy Hodge, Rachel Hendrix, Paddy Lister, Jack Halloran, Scott Mortensen, Matt Bromley and Nikolai Mynhardt.The film follows McCormack as he leaves behind his family in New Zealand and goes off in search of adventure. His mother has a bad feeling about it and tearfully sends him away asking him to turn to God when he’s in trouble.

Macdonald, himself a surfer and an experienced commercials director, is the visionary behind ‘The Perfect Wave’.Having secured the rights, he developed both the story and the screenplay while assembling the entire team, to achieve his vision. The film will be distributed in South Africa by Indigenous Film Distribution.

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