Review

Final Fantasy VII Rebirth shows promise, but lacks the punch of its predecessor

When the Final Fantasy VII remake was initially announced, you could say it broke the internet. That original 1997 game changed the gaming landscape forever and hearing that it would be released to a new generation on a new platform made you feel like you were witnessing the second coming of Christ in gaming pop…

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Film Review: Kung Fu Panda 4; Jack Black’s loveable Po proves a welcome return in amusing sequel

Though there was a certain sense of the story coming to a natural close in 2016’s Kung Fu Panda 3, the powers that be at DreamWorks deemed another go-around with the loveable Po (once again voiced with vigour by Jack Black) necessary, and so families are gifted with the effortless joy that is Kung Fu…

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Film Review: Ricky Stanicky; John Cena livens up an otherwise missed opportunity of a comedy

After finding Oscar glory as a solo filmmaker – with arguably one of the more controversial Best Picture wins in the Academy’s history (see Green Book) – there’s a nice sense of coming back home in the case of Peter Farrelly helming Ricky Stanicky. Now, it does pale in comparison to the comedy works he…

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Film Review: Imaginary is light on scares and, ironically, imagination

Given that the promotional material for Imaginary has highlighted a certain stuffed teddy bear, one would be right in assuming that the film – boasting its from the studio that brought us Five Nights at Freddy’s and M3GAN – would be taking inspiration from those two successful properties.  Unfortunately, despite such promise, a committed turn…

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Album Review: Ricki-Lee claims pop throne on upbeat, euphoric On My Own

Given the longevity of her prolific career, it’s easy to forget that popstar-cum-media personality Ricki-Lee got her start within the Australian Idol space and that she didn’t win; Casey Donovan would ultimately be crowned the winner of said season. In the 20 years (!!!) since the commanding singer won us all over during her tenure…

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Film Review: The Great Escaper is an engaging, likeable true story that celebrates love and determination

There very easily could’ve been an air of farce and faux suspense about The Great Escaper.  A true story centring on Bernard Jordan (Michael Caine) – a near-90-year-old who staged a “great escape” from his retirement home in 2014 in order to join his fellow war veterans on a beach in Normandy to commemorate their…

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Live Review: The National make up for the long absence at world-class Sydney show

The National have been regulars to our shores for 16 years, so the six-year gap since their last show in Australia is a fair enough gap to have revived the appetite for the Ohio via New York City group.  Bringing Annie Hamilton along for the tour was a stroke of genius. Not only is she…

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Film Review: Dune: Part Two inimitably balances its blockbuster psyche with an uncomfortable morality

Given the absolute majestic, expansive nature of Frank Herbert‘s 1965 novel, it makes sense as to why director Denis Villeneuve insisted that his story be told across a necessary 5 hour split.  No doubt using David Lynch’s ambitious failure as something of a cautionary tale – the auteur continually rejecting his association with his own…

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Film Review: The Greatest Love Story Never Told is the most open and vulnerable aspect of Jennifer Lopez’s This Is Me…Now experience

“What is this fucking girl’s problem?” As Jennifer Lopez states in the opening moments of The Greatest Love Story Never Told, she’s highly aware of what the media has pondered about the multitude of marriages (4, to be precise) she’s partaken in over the course of her resilient career. And it’s that self-awareness and hopeful…

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Helldivers 2 provides the humorous, light-hearted sci-fi fun we need right now

Helldivers 2, the highly anticipated sequel to the cult classic, has finally landed on both PlayStation 5 and PC, delivering intense action and strategic cooperative gameplay. Developed by Arrowhead Game Studios, this instalment brings significant changes, notably shifting from a top-down perspective to a first-person view. While this feels like a major departure from the…

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Film Review: The Rooster navigates its meditation on masculinity with dark humour and uncomfortable fragility

The opening imagery of Mark Leonard Winter‘s The Rooster is a nightmarish depiction of a body swinging in the wind.  It suggests a darker film than what transpires over the following 101 minutes, even though Winter’s script does indeed indulge in devastating themes. At the centre of The Rooster is Dan (Phoenix Raei, leaving no…

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Film Review: The Zone of Interest makes for a cruel and profound questioning of humanity’s dark underbelly

An idyllic family life juxtaposed with the genocidal holocaust horrors next door has made for one of the most gripping and intellectual cinematic gems in years.  The Zone of Interest is by far the most haunting and arresting depiction of Nazi family life and Holocaust bureaucracy you’ll get all year.  Directed by Jonathan Glazer, his…

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Film Review: Drive-Away Dolls is an unapologetic queer road movie that takes no prisoners on its journey

If there was ever an indication as to how separately the Coen Brothers think when they’re left to their own devices, one only needs to look at what Ethan Coen has concocted with Drive-Away Dolls.  Miles apart from Joel Coen’s ahistorical thriller The Tragedy of Macbeth, Drive-Away Dolls, a collaboration with Ethan’s wife, Tricia Cooke,…

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Film Review: Baghead offsets its demonic horror with a strong female voice

Baghead – and for those deep-cut aficionados, this isn’t connected to the 2008 indie horror flick of the same name that starred Greta Gerwig and was directed by the Duplass brothers – leans into the trusted genre narrative of the boundaries between life and death being somewhat fluid.  Arriving several months after the similarly-themed Talk…

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Film Review: Land of Bad is a nail-biting slice of military flourished escapism

A brutal war film that opts to forego any “true story” inspiration and commit wholly to undistinguishable-terrorists-are-picked-off-by-fictional-soldiers-with-crowd-rousingly-violent-results, Land of Bad transcends its Queensland-filmed locations and predominant Australian cast to deliver on shockingly tense and neatly executed thrills. Largely an action vehicle for Liam Hemsworth, the sweet-faced, imposingly-figured star leads the charge as Kinney, quickly dubbed…

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Tekken 8 is one of the best entries in the franchise to date

I’ve always had a soft spot for the Tekken franchise. In fact, Tekken 3 was one of the first games I ever played, back when I got my original PlayStation all those years ago. Since then, I’ve stuck with the franchise, and while most entries have been good, not all have been great. Be it…

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Film Review: This Is Me…Now: A Love Story is a musical experience that earns Jennifer Lopez her flowers as the barrier-breaking entertainer she truly is

“Have you ever heard the story of Alida and Taroo?…” So begins Jennifer Lopez‘s semi autobiographical musical experience This Is Me…Now: A Love Story, a narrative accompaniment to her latest album, This Is Me…Now, an urban pop record that celebrates her reunion with now husband Ben Affleck, following their original romance some two decades prior….

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Album Review: Jennifer Lopez finds love again on lush, cohesive This Is Me…Now

An album twenty years in the making, This Is Me…Now is the sequel to Jennifer Lopez‘s 2002 romantic opus This Is Me…Then, a largely mid-tempo, old-school R&B-inspired record that musically defined her relationship with Ben Affleck. This Is Me…Now is similarly a record reflecting on her relationship with the actor, only this time she’s Mrs….

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Film Review: Madame Web; Well…it’s better than Morbius

Leading up to the release of Madame Web it’s safe to say that the word hasn’t exactly been overtly positive.  The usage of a certain line of dialogue regarding Dakota Johnson‘s character’s mother’s profession of working with spiders in the Amazon cemented the film’s meme status from the get-go – for the record, the line…

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Film Review: Marmalade is a twist-heavy, enthusiastic caper

There’s a lot of blunt symbolism and are-they-too-clever-for-their-own-good?-plot twists abound in Marmalade, the feature debut from actor-turned-writer/director Keir O’Donnell (the Australian-American talent known for his roles in Wedding Crashers, American Sniper, and The Dry).  It’s an ultimately zippy, enthusiastic caper that probably puts a few too many of its eggs in its culminating basket, but…

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Film Review: Force of Nature: The Dry 2; “Whodunnit” sequel is a dark, menacing trek

Whilst much can be said about how so much of The Dry‘s success was in large part to it opening at a time when cinemas were still battling the pandemic-stricken productions that were halted, it can’t be denied that Robert Connolly‘s tight thriller was a fine genre film in its own right.  The fact that…

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The Shark Cordless Detect Pro Vacuum is a lightweight wonder

When it comes to cordless stick vacuums, my needs are relatively basic. Good suction and decent battery life are usually enough to complete the job. While I mean no disrespect to my current stick vacuum, the Shark Cordless Detect Pro has blown my expectations out of the water. Complete with its auto-emptying station, lightweight design…

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Film Review: Does the elaborate spy action of Argylle live up to its marketed hype?

The promise of a trilogy based off a series of books that have yet to be released.  A planned spy-centred universe of films that is set to crossover with the similarly themed Kingsman and a yet-to-be-named franchise.  Taylor Swift theorists believing she’s the real mastermind behind it all.  And don’t forget the heavily marketed feline…

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Like a Dragon: Infinite Wealth is a near-perfect blend of style and substance

I consider myself a casual fan of the Yakuza (now Like a Dragon) franchise, yet, I’ve played almost all of them. Having played this game’s predecessor Yakuza: Like a Dragon sometime after its launch, I was pleasantly surprised at the decision to bring combat into the turn-based frontier, making for a more tactical blend of…

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Layla is a film that celebrates one’s identity through a multitude of creative intersections: Sundance Film Festival Review

Thanks predominantly to RuPaul, and, more specifically RuPaul’s Drag Race, drag culture has firmly wedged itself in the mainstream.  It’s always been there, it’s just more readily acceptable, or at least visible, and Amrou Al-Kadhi’s assured debut feature as both a writer and director, Layla, furthers such with its playful, authentic personality that drives home…

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Sebastian is an explorative drama that expresses a healthy relationship with the art of sex work: Sundance Film Festival Review

Though there’s an initial graphicness to the manner in which sex is depicted in the opening minutes of Sebastian, Mikko Mäkelä‘s explorative drama shouldn’t be dismissed as just another recent example of queer cinema that leans into sexual explicitness for the sake of shock or organic representation.  Yes, the sex on hand is a realistic…

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Good One aims for a sense of understated tension across its minimalistic plotting: Sundance Film Festival Review

There’s universally strong performances across the board and lush cinematography throughout, but one can’t help but wish there was more plotting to Good One for the understated drama to truly land the emotional impact it aims for. The set-up in India Donaldson‘s film is simple, with 17-year-old Sam (Lily Collias, an absolute breakout) gearing up…

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Desire Lines is a layered drama that provides trans men with authentic representation: Sundance Film Festival Review

There’s a uniqueness to Desire Lines that writer/director Jules Rosskam (and co-writer Nate Gualtieri) implements to set the film as an open line of communication regarding the LGBTQIA+ community and their placement within their own culture.  A narrative-driven drama that combines documentary pieces and talking head confessionals, the film’s hybrid mentality may not always work,…

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Film Review: Cold Copy aims for entertainment value as it details the cutthroat world of journalism and media

Diving both into the cutthroat world of journalism and the medium’s potential to garner fame off the back of manipulation and obsession, Roxine Helberg‘s Cold Copy, whilst not necessarily reinventing the wheel, still manages an air of tension throughout as it details the power dynamic between a journalism student and the media professional she aspires…

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Exhibiting Forgiveness is a thought-provoking drama that bides its time in surrendering to its emotional explosiveness: Sundance Film Festival Review

The complexities of forgiveness and accountability against a familial backdrop laced with tension, regret and one’s own personal demons, Exhibiting Forgiveness is a thought-provoking drama, and one that bides its time in surrendering to its emotional explosiveness. Written and directed by Titus Kaphar, marking his feature debut, Exhibiting Forgiveness focuses on Tarell Rodin (André Holland),…

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