Movie, game and book reviews April 2014

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There are some fantastic movies, games and books coming out in April.

Movie Title: 300: Rise of an Empire

Director: Noam Murro
Starring: Eva Green, Jack O'Connell, Lena Headey and Sullivan Stapleton
Highlights: Amazing visuals.
Recommended for: Fans of the first movie.
Verdict: ****

300: Rise of an Empire is both a side story and sequel to 300. It primarily centres on Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton) - an Athenian general and politician - as he orchestrates and implements naval battle plans against the impending Persian invasion. He asks Sparta to join Athens, but the Spartans have already headed to face King Xerxes - the God King - and his armies at the Hot Gates. Themistocles is left with assembling an army of farmers, workers and younger men to defend the seas. It is a violent movie, yes, but still very enjoyable. Each fight scene - or tense moment - is strengthened by the music score as it lends some much-appreciated atmosphere. This is the sort of movie you purchase on Blu-ray and watch with a 9.2 sound system setup, but I wouldn’t worry about the 3D edition. I found the 3D to be tacked on and not noticeable at times.

My other gripe with 300: Rise of an Empire is its pacing. The beginning and back stories are told in a rushed and confusing way. I felt the movie ended before it really got started. I would have loved another hour’s worth of fight scenes and some more story to go along with it.

Movie Title: 300: Lego Movie

Director: Christopher Miller and Phil Lord
Starring: Elizabeth Banks, Jonah Hill, Morgan Freeman, Will Arnett and Will Ferrell
Highlights: Everything is awesome.
Recommended for: Whole family.
Verdict: ****

Growing up with Lego, I remember their little generic faces, the helmets with teeth marks and the little crack down below the visor because you were playing a bit rough during those fun building adventures. Lego creates moments you will never forget, moments that this movie has not forgotten.

The Lego Movie is a humorous, high-octane and fun-filled adventure, and at the centre of it all lies a generic little Lego builder know as Emmet (Chris Pratt). Emmet lives his life following the instructions; he likes the music he is supposed to, he loves coffee as he is supposed to and he does his job exactly how it should be done and all is done to please the leader of this Lego land, President Business (Will Ferrell). The Lego Movie is more than an attempt to cash in on a successful franchise. This is a stellar movie, not a marketing ploy. It has subject matter that is relevant to what society has become today; it shows us the power of creativity and imagination all whilst teaching the viewer a valuable life lesson. With a magnificent cast of voices you will recognise easily, when it comes to the Lego Movie, everything is awesome!

Game Title: South Park: The Stick of Truth

Developer: South Park Digital Studios
Publisher: Ubisoft
Genre: RPG
Highlights: Amazingly funny.
Recommended for: Fans of South Park, not for kids.
Verdict: ****

South Park has had an incredibly odd journey to get to where it is. When it launched in the late '90s, it seemed to be nothing more than Simpsons for the next generation, with all the horrific jokes and black humor pushed up to 11. However, the amount of rip-offs that formed in its wake, hoping to cash in, failed after one season and proved that there was something more here; at its core, South Park is a deeply anarchic, surreal show with a grossly subversive view of the world that is sometimes just terribly accurate. It definitely isn’t a show for everyone and I understand that, but with this legacy built up behind it for 17 seasons now, it seems incredible that not only did we get a game based on that but that it was so true to the show and, at the same time, a very good game in and of itself. It boggles the mind.

The Stick of Truth is an amazingly funny and good game. It is one of the best licensed games ever, and a labour of love by people who really knew the source material that they were working with. If you don’t like South Park, you won’t like this, but as a game on its own, it’s definitely worth a play or two.

Game Title: Final Fantasy XIII

Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: Action, RPG
Highlights: Next-gen graphics.
Recommended for: Fans of the series.
Verdict: ****

We laughed when Final Fantasy X-2 was released. We accepted it when Final Fantasy XIII-2 was released. And now, in 2014, we have a game that is Final Fantasy XIII-3 in all but name. You can understand the reason why, in a game series that is based on the premise of creating new, interesting worlds, mythos and characters for each entry, it can be exceedingly painful to want to give them up when you finish without answering the ultimate question: “What happens next?”

Overall, I was satisfied with FFXIII. This a nice little coda to the Final Fantasy series on this generation on consoles, and now we can all look forward to the release of FFXV.


Infamous: Second Son
Genre: Action
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment
Date: April 2014

Dark Souls II
Genre: Action
Developer: From Software
Date: April 2014

MLB 14: The Show
Genre: Sports
Developer: SCE San Diego
Date: April 2014


Genre: Drama
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins
Date: 4 April 2014

Out of the Furnace
Genre: Thriller
Director: Scott Cooper
Starring: Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson and Casey Affleck
Date: 4 April 2014

Genre: Romance, Sci-Fi
Director: Neil Burger
Starring: Shailene Woodley,
Theo James and Ashley Judd
Date: 4 April 2014


These books are available from all good book stores.


Phil Klay

Redeployment takes readers to the front lines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos. Written with a hard-eyed realism, Redeployment marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation. R320.00

The Bootlegger

Clive Cussler
It is 1920. Prohibition and bootlegging are in full swing. When Joseph van Dorn is shot and nearly killed while in pursuit of a rum-running vessel, his friend and employee, Isaac Bell, swears to him that he will hunt down the lawbreakers. But Bell doesn't know what he is getting into. When a witness to the shooting is executed in a manner peculiar to the Russian secret police, it becomes clear that these were no ordinary bootleggers. R270.00


Chad le Clos with Myan Subrayan
Unbelievable! tells us all about the making of a swimming sensation – in the words of the golden boy himself, his family and those who have stood by him from the start. It is an encouraging account of realising the ultimate goal, not through chance, but with the resolute support of family and friends and Chad’s own relentless dedication to his sport. R175.00

Success Through Stillness

Russell Simmons

In Success Through Stillness, Simmons shows the connection between inner peace and outward success through interviews with other successful leaders in various industries, and how learning to be still has been instrumental in his own career. Simmons attributes his meditation practice with changing his life for the better and says that there is no ‘bad’ way to meditate, only different forms for different people. R240.00

The Future of the Mind

Michio Kaku

Recording memories, mind reading, videotaping our dreams, mind control, avatars, and telekinesis - no longer are these feats of the mind solely the province of overheated science fiction. As Michio Kaku reveals, not only are they possible but with the latest advances in brain science and recent astonishing breakthroughs in technology, they already exist. R355.00

Simple Chinese Cooking

Kylie Kwong
Kylie Kwong's philosophy is to use the freshest produce and cook it simply to make the most of the clean flavours. All the necessary ingredients are available at your supermarket and Kylie's recipes are friendly and straightforward. In no time, you'll be cooking everyday favourites like soy sauce chicken and sung choi bau on weeknights and fresh-tasting button mushroom salad and prawn wonton soup for weekend occasions. R410.00

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Doodle Book (Age 1+)

With simple pictures of Eric Carle's best-loved creations, including the Very Hungry Caterpillar, for children to finish and colour. This delightful doodle book will provide hours of fun for little artists, encouraging creativity and stirring the imagination.

Disney Infinity Essential Guide (Age 6+)

Can you sail a pirate ship? Would you make a good Space Ranger? Find out as you meet all the characters of Disney Infinity. Join Jack Sparrow, Sulley, Woody, Lightning and many more on their exciting adventures. Learn about their amazing gadgets and vehicles and discover what happens when your favourite characters make new friends! R185.00