Great movies and games to look out for in October

25 September 2015



Reviews by & Ster-Kinekor

Here are some great movies and games to look out for in October.

Movie Title: Everest

Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Starring: Emily Watson, Jake Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, John Hawkes, Josh Brolin, Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington
Highlights: Amazing visuals and cinematography.
Recommended for: Fans of Jake Gyllenhaal
Verdict: ***

Everest takes us back to May of 1996, where skilled climbers were in great demand and there were few who successfully make it up and down the great mountain. Among these was Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), from Adventure Consultants New Zealand, who by that fatal year would have successfully climbed Mt. Everest five times. Due to the large turnout from the various people attempting to climb, there is a safety concern and would you believe ‘traffic’ to climb the mountain. Rob proposes a joined venture with a friendly rival, Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) from Mountain Madness. Scott agrees and even though they have vastly different styles there remains a mutual respect. The climbers are continually faced with difficulties and unforeseen setbacks. Then tragedy strikes during a severe snow storm. Anyone familiar with the events of that trip knows all too well how this story ends.

It is difficult to discern from whose perspective the story is told. The focus shifts primarily between Rob Hall and Beck Weathers (Josh Brolin). Writers William Nicholso and Simon Beaufoy used various sources to write the script and this is perhaps the reason for its lack of character depth. Unfortunately, Everest isn’t about the people, but the mountain. It is the focus, the leading lady and a vicious beauty.

And as with all disaster stories, there is that one person who needs to remain level headed, the anchor who often becomes the bearer of bad news. This is base camp ‘mother’ Helen Wilton (Emily Watson), whose performance rips you more than any other. That being said, the whole ensemble was on point. You aren’t watching individual performances, but experiencing the chronicle events of a devastating story.

Due to its cinematic splendour (credited to Salvatore Totino), Everest is truly breathtaking.

I am not a fan of 3D films, but I have to credit IMAX for making this 3D experience very engaging. It will actually leave audiences gasping as your pulse races from witnessing the many distressing circumstances the characters are faced with. It is definitely one of those films you have to watch on the biggest cinema screen possible. But it isn’t all disaster, there are some much-needed lighter moments. It may start out as an adventurers dream, but it snowballs into a heartbreaking nightmare. And although you know the outcome, your humanity still routes for them to get up and finish.

Movie Title: Glory Game: The Joost van der Westhuizen Story

Director: Odette Schwegler
Starring: Christian Schwegler, Franco Booysens, Joost van der Westhuizen, Liam Schwegler and Riley Schwegler
Highlights: Amazing story and career of Joost van der Westhuizen.
Recommended for: Fans of Joost van der Westhuizen
Verdict: ****

The documentary takes the viewer on a journey of Joost van der Westhuizen, from his rise through the ranks to be selected as a Springbok, to his fight with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), the most severe case of MND, with only one prognosis, death. It isn’t all about tugging at your heartstrings, though. Among the ups and downs of the biopic, it touches on the Springboks’ 1995 Rugby World Cup win over New Zealand at Ellis Park, which momentarily united a nation under the leadership of Francois Pienaar and watchful eye of Nelson Mandela.

Director, Odette Schwegler, an investigative journalist, who initially created a snippet for Carte Blanche in 2013, approached Joost on producing a full-length story. The result is a two-hour feature on the courage to overcome and live with a purpose. There’s nothing more the general masses enjoy than to see a hero fallen, which was the case for Joost back in 2011 when a tape surfaced and placed him at the front of infidelity and drug use. The film, too, deals with this as part of the story, although not in too great a length. This is supposed to be an uplifting story after all.

Told through narratives from family members, friends and other rugby legends, we get a glimpse of the man Joost was on the field. This, then changes to what he has become and what he always was behind all the fame and glory. Embracing the challenges before him, the documentary was filmed over two years. This in itself would be a challenge for most people, more so for someone suffering with MND. Considering the amount of travelling and testing he subjected himself to on this journey, you can only admire the passion he brings. And he manages to take it all in his stride, with laughter and humility.

If you’re planning on watching this amazing documentary, I would suggest you take the necessary precautions: have tissues close at hand.

It’s difficult to separate emotions from the film, so instead of attempting to watch it from a reviewer’s perspective, I decided to rather enjoy it for what it was. Unlike most other screenings at the theatre, this film isn’t about the profits and hype, but rather about raising awareness about the disease and raising funds towards others suffering with MND throughout South Africa.

As part of his (Joost) mission to discover more about MND and a possible, eventual cure, the aim is also to establish a centre for neurodegeneration, providing patients with world-class facilities and multi-disciplinary care and research. This has an estimated cost of R55m to build. Even after many decades of the disease coming to the fore, there is still very little known about it and how it is triggered, much less how to cure it. So show your support, not for the man but for all those others unable to receive the necessary care they deserve.

Game Title: Pro Evolution Soccer 2016

Genre: Sports
Developer: PES Productions
Publisher: Konami
Platforms: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox and Xbox One
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer
Verdict: ****

Pro Evolution Soccer (PES) vs. FIFA has been a lot like the Messi vs. Ronaldo rivalry: destroying all other pretenders and elevating the game to unimaginable heights. Regardless of which faction you pledge your undying allegiance to, you cannot deny that both these franchises have pushed each other to become better and better.

Now the battle has reached a fever pitch as gamers and football fans have declared that PES 2016 will be the game to dethrone FIFA once and for all. Naturally, you must be eager to know the verdict? Well, it’s too early to say since FIFA 16 hasn’t been officially released as of the time of writing – and it would be terribly unfair to base a final judgment on a demo – so that argument will need to be put on hold for the moment.

Before even kicking the first ball, there’s something you need to know: the rosters are all from the 2014/15 season (so United fans will still have to see that Judas (Di Maria) in the red shirt and Chelsea fans will be delighted that Falcao isn’t in their side yet). Frankly, this is disappointing because football fans pay good money for new editions with the latest squads. Konami has announced that it will be releasing an update to address this, but this rushing of games before they’re actually complete is becoming too much of a common trend lately.

When you finally get on to the field, expect to recognise a few familiar player face and kits and some generic ones for the lesser known stars and unlicensed teams. Do not fret, though, since there is an editing option for those pedantic perfectionists who demand authenticity. This brings us to the next point: the graphics. It’s obvious that there has been a drastic improvement since the previous incarnation of the game, and the players look cleaner and sharper than ever. The celebration cut scenes, in particular, which are incredibly realistic and make scoring a goal even more rewarding just to relive the detailed euphoria.

The gameplay, though, is where PES 2016 completely pummels anything else that has come before it. Anyone who has played football knows that it isn’t as easy as hitting the sprint button, powering past players and slotting the ball in the bottom corner (okay, anyone else besides Messi, Ronaldo, Bale and Neymar). PES has become incredibly complete – you now need to focus on build-ups and defending just as much as attack. The superstars will provide you with an the edge and have the ability to execute the sensational, but you’ll find yourself appreciating the hard work of your midfielders and defenders a lot more than in previous games.

Remarkably, pressure has become a major part of gameplay and the AI knows when you’re on the ropes. The AI also has the ability to figure out your strengths and weaknesses and exploit them. Don’t be surprised if the COM doubles-up on your big players and focuses on the channel where your wingback struggles to get back in time.

Another impressive aspect in the gameplay is the simplicity of set pieces. It has taken this art back to basics and allows you an almost arcade feel of taking a free kick, penalty or corner – no more of this weird lotto style gamble that made a set piece more of a hindrance than an advantage.

From a features perspective, the competitions are still the obvious draw cards and Konami has put tremendous effort into getting them just right – listening to the Champions League intro, for example, will give you goose bumps every single time. myClub can be initially frustrating in the beginning, as you need to expend time and go through quite a process to build your dream team, but once you achieve the ultimate 11 it’ll be worth it.

Let’s be clear here: the critics didn’t overhype this game; this is easily the best football simulator around today. The gameplay alone makes it the closest thing to the beautiful game and there’s no doubt that it relies more on football brains than button-smashing brawn. Your move, FIFA.