Friday, 23 December 2016

My Magical Place: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Review

23 Dec 2016

Last year Disney gave us JJ Abrams' love letter to the original Star Wars trilogy in the form of Episode VII: The Force Awakens for Christmas. It was frighteningly good. This Christmas they gave us the first stand-alone story in the Star Wars anthology in the form of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

It is frighteningly good. Rogue One is a proper Star Wars movie - it is a space opera and, mainly, it is a gritty war drama. It is a look at more everyday sort of people on the ground living under the imperial shadow, it is a look at normal soldiers fighting in the resistance. Rogue One is the story of people making good choices and bad choices at a time when things aren’t as black and white as they seem in the main movies. The Rebellion we see in Rogue One is not the one that we see in A New Hope and the means they use to get things done are questionable at times. This movie is the story of how hope is made possible for the story in A New Hope.

A different perspective


Rogue One is the story of how the Rebellion acquired the plans for the Death Star and you could watch it and almost seamlessly transition into A New Hope. We have always seen Star Wars from the perspective of the Skywalker family and the characters surrounding them and one forgets that both the Rebellion and the Empire are made up of more than just those characters and that both entities came about as a result of the intelligence, industry, courage and sacrifice of many people. The Erso family is at the heart of Rogue One’s story and it opens with Galen Erso, a brilliant scientist who once worked for the Empire, in hiding with his family. They are tracked down and he is forced back into working on the Death Star project as he is critical to its success. Our protagonist, Jyn Erso’s character is forged against this backdrop. She has grown up without her family and never really sure where she stands in the conflict between the Rebellion and the Empire. The rest of the characters are also quite amazing, even though you will not really remember anyone’s name the first time around, except for the droid, K-2SO. The other thing Rogue One does is a lot more exploring of a galaxy far, far away than any of the other movies. You visit more planets in the first few minutes of this movie than all of Force Awakens. It’s nice to be introduced to more parts of the galaxy.


Straightforward plot


The plot is quite straightforward in that this is the story of how the rebels acquire the plans to the Death Star. Our rag-tag team of heroes consists of conflicted Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), equally conflicted rebel intelligence officer, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna); the badass blind warrior Chirrut Îmwe (Donnie Yen) and his friend Baze Malbus (Jiang Wen), former imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) and the lovably snarky droid, K-2SO (Alan Tudyk). Mads Mikkelsen and Forest Whitaker brilliantly portray Galen Erso and Saw Garrera respectively. Expect to see some other familiar faces as well. The immediate villain is Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), an ambitious officer in the Empire who heads up the Death Star project but working under immense pressure from his superiors to get the project complete on time. In the background you have the menace of the emperor being hinted at and Darth Vader making very memorable appearances.

Perfect tie-in with Star Wars universe


Even though this is a stand-alone story, it ties in perfectly with the Star Wars universe and if you are a fan, you will find Easter eggs for the prequels, the original trilogy and the expanded universe. I went to see Rogue One with a friend of mine who’s not seen the other Star Wars movies and he liked it but at the end he’s like, “Will they destroy the Death Star in the next movie?” I had to explain to him that they did that in 1977 already. So all-in-all, Rogue One is a brilliant addition to the Star Wars universe and director, Gareth Edwards and his crew delivered the goods in terms of story, visuals, pacing and the score. At times they try and force the connection to A New Hope too much but in a manner you can forgive. I will go as far as to say that Rogue One is right up there with Empire Strikes Back and that it is even slightly better than The Force Awakens.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

2017 at the Movies

I won't lie, you guys, I have let life capture my nerd flag for the last few months. I have not even seen Dr Strange or Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them yet. The year 2016 shall go down as just the worst - seriously, just the worst. But enough of that, take my hand and let's look ahead towards 2017 and see what good things will fill our movie loving hearts with gooey goodness.
Here are some of the movies that we can look forward to:

1. A Star Wars Christmas


This is still a 2016 feature, but since it will be on circuit quite a bit into 2017 it warrants a mention. As you all know, Disney does not mess around when they take over a franchise. We will have Star Wars for Christmas in one way or another for the rest of our lives. As long as there are Star Wars fans and Disney can make money from us there will be Star Wars. 



Last year gave us JJ Abrams’ beautiful love letter to the original trilogy, Episode VII: The Force Awakens. This year, we get the first of probably one million anthologies that are meant to tide us over in between the main movies, of which we’ll get one every two years. The first anthology feature that we will receive is titled Rogue One and it looks brilliant. You know how you have always wondered how the rebels got the plans for the first Death Star? Or exactly how many Bothans died to get information on the second Death Star? No, you never wondered? Well Rogue One will answer the former question for you anyway. Just take a look at the trailer and get excited about more Star Wars. 

The cast looks to be pretty impressive too with Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything, 2014) in the lead role and cool people like Mads Mikkelsen (Dr Strange, 2016), Alan Tudyk (Firefly) and Forest Whitaker (Arrival, 2016) lending their support.

2. Marvel v DC: Comic Book Movie War


This war is rather one-sided with Marvel pretty much still dominating. 2016 saw them release their first entries in Phase 3 with Captain America: Civil War and Dr Strange, both of which received favourable responses at the box office and with the fans. 2017 looks like it will up the ante with Guardians of the Galaxy 2 set to drop in May (hopefully with another killer soundtrack); our favourite neighbourhood Spider-Man gets his time in the sun with Homecoming in July; and things get apocalyptic in Thor: Ragnorok in November.



The DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has had a rocky start with Batman v Superman being a hit in some ways and quite a miss in many other ways. With Suicide Squad, their heart was certainly in the right place, but it also failed to hit the mark in many ways (and you thought Deadshot never misses). What DC does have is some strong characters to work with and a good foundation for their Justice League venture. Batman and Wonder Woman were amazing in Batman v Superman and Harley Quinn became an instant hit in Suicide Squad. 2017 will give us the much anticipated Wonder Woman movie in June and the first Justice League movie in November.

Superheroes seem still to be a thing for the foreseeable future. Who knew?



3. A little nostalgia


You are over superhero movies you say?

Say no more, Fam. Say no more. 2017 knows that you are all about reliving your childhood and will hook you up with that good stuff. Remember watching Power Rangers before school in the morning and then ending up being late? Well, now you get to see the movie in March 2017. 

Baywatch? Hot bodies and slow motion beach running. May 2017 will have that for you and there is no hotter body to do the slow beach running for you than The Rock himself. Speaking of The Rock, you liked Jumanji as a child, right? 2017 will hook you up with that too in December and throw The Rock in for good measure. The whole The Rock thing probably made you think of Vin Diesel and 2017 is like don’t worry we know you didn’t like the XXX 2 movie with Ice Cube, so we will hook you up with XXX: The Return of Xander Cage in January and Fast 8 in April just for fun. You know how it is, The Rock, Vin Diesel, fast cars, hot women, family and not really eight characters. It’s like 12 people who are somewhat fast. 2017 is lit. It even has the live action version of Beauty and the Beast up its sleeve for you in March. All I will say is Emma Watson. Hopefully that means something to you (#heforshe).



4. Dropping names and all that


You always have to end off with that name dropping session, just to show that you know who’s who in the biz. In 2017 you’ll also have Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Kong: Skull Island, Logan (that’s Wolverine by the way), Transformers: The Last Knight, Alien: Covenant, War for the Planet of the Apes, The Dark Tower, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Ghost in the Shell (we’ll have to talk about Hollywood whitewashing when this hits), John Wick: Chapter 2 and Fifty Shades Darker.



There are many more titles scheduled for good ol’ 2017, but those are the ones scheduled to make some waves.

Here’s to a happy 2017 at the movies.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Honest Trailers - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice




When BvS: Dawn of Justice came out I wrote a review for it over on Bizcommunity.com and I had many mixed feelings about it. It seem the guys over at Honest Trailers agree with me.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Book Review: Affluenza

Wow, this is such a great read for anyone interested in satirical stories about all the crazy and weird things that make up South Africa. Niq Mhlongo tackles issues like racism, xenophobia, homophobia, crime, land redistribution and economic equality with a flair that is just magical. They stories really speak to me and I relate on so many levels with the South African (but especially Jozi) culture of continuous hussle to attain wealth and status to impress people you don't know. The stories are a lot like Herman Charles Bosman's Oom Schalk Lourens stories in their tone and satire.

"This is Johussleburg and everyone here is suffering from affluenza. Almost every black person pretends to be rich while staying in a rented room."

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

#YouthMonth: Like kids these days say

07 Jun 2016

Heita da! What's drugs my dealer? What's crack-a-lackin'? Umoja? Fo' shizzle my nizzle? It's all good in the hood. You'd best keep your urban dictionary close by for this one.
Language, it’s something special isn’t it? In his song, Sing for the Moment, Eminem says: “I guess words are a motherf*cker, they can be great / Or they can degrade, or even worse, they can teach hate”. Words move us and have a magic about them, especially when you use them in ways that defy the rules of grammar. Language is fluid and ever-changing and there is always a tug-of-war between the powers that be in university ivory towers and everyday people who use language as a tool to communicate as to what the rules of language are.

#YouthMonth: Like kids these days say


The beauty of slang


June sees us celebrating the school pupils who lost their lives during the 16 June 1976 uprising in Soweto. Those kids stood up for the right to be educated in a language that they could understand. The great thing about this is that once you understand your own language, you find appreciation for the beauty of other languages. 40 years after those kids stood up for their right to understand what they were being taught, we live in a multilingual South Africa that has become a unique place in the world in terms of the amount of languages that are used in our interactions on a daily basis. This is most evident in the slang we use. We have 11 official languages, and many others from other regions of the world, spoken in our streets and the slang that has emerged is just typically South African and a thing of beauty.

We all have this unique flavour of speaking to which the world at large cannot compare. Think of how we confuse foreigners when we tell them to turn left at the second robot. Where else are you in a taxi (like a proper South African taxi) and you shout “sho’t left” from the back and the driver knows what you want? Nowhere else, pappa! 

#VoiceForAll


We have the kids from koKasi with their township flow whose levels of cool you cannot even hope to compete with. Libala tsotsi, just forget. The urban slang of my home, the dirty south of Jozi, with okes chasing binnets for days, my china. The language that only my goons and I use when we get together for some sips and my one friend always ends up being such a chop. I remember the days of 1337 (elite) speak when gamers thought replacing words with letters was the height of cool and n00bs would be pwnd (owned). Eish, and then Twitter came with its hashtags and no community took to it better than South Africans, especially our Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Fikzo Mbalula. The dude’s always #onfleek on Twitter. Even the way we discuss politics and serious matters like students protesting the increase of fees has changed since 1976. Think of movements like #feesmustfall, #zumamustfall or #blacklivesmatter. Only in Mzanzi do we have hunky politician referred to as ‘The People’s Bae’. That being the EFF’s Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

Language is fun for days, you guys. Eish, mara it can be dangerous too, if we use it to break people down instead of building them up. Racism, sexism, homophobia and all kinds of other prejudice have their own slang. That’s the stuff we don’t need. As young people, we face many obstacles, but we are ambitious, we are hungry for success and we can always push to be better. Every day we are hustling, as the motto goes. There is a magic here, you guys, even when things get hectic. Slang is a way to cross language boundaries and unite South Africans... and the youth is way ahead of the curve in this movement. 

As the kids say these days, “we are just out here living our best life”.

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Letters to Life: Convergence 2016

Dearest Life,


If ever you have taken some time off from handing out lemons on street corners and have ever read Steven Erikson’s epic fantasy series, The Malazan Book of the Fallen, you will know that one of the overarching themes in the books is convergence. If you have not read the books it’s fine because convergence seems to be one of your overarching themes. Like how you handed out so many lemons throughout your career that it eventually annoyed Beyoncé and she went and made Lemonade for all of us so you would stop. Those two events were just drawn to each other.

All the ups, all of the downs and all the madness have all led to this moment. This is where everything collides to form something new.

In the fourth book in the series, House of Chains, Mappo and Karsa have a chat about convergence. In their case they talk about convergences and their relationship to curses. I am here because of the good and the bad. Curses and blessings.

Mappo: “And I speak from long experience; curses are horrible things. Tell me, has Sha’ik ever spoken to you of convergence?”
Karsa: “No.”
Mappo: “When curses collide, you might say. Flaws and virtues, the many faces of fateful obsession, of singular purpose. Powers and wills are drawn together, as if one must by nature seek the annihilation of the other. Thus, you and Icarium are now here, and we are moments from a dreadful convergence, and it is my fate to witness. Helpless unto desperate madness. Fortunately for my own sake, I have known this feeling before.”

The road to here has felt so long and I am weary to the bone. Life, you are difficult but it is also filled with many unexpected blessings. I have been unluckier than some and luckier than most to get to where I am currently at. The forces that I have no control over have only minimally interfered with my existence and the areas I have control over I have manged okay. I could have done more and should do more. On many a Sunday evening I am struck by a deep anxiety that I am failing at you. This morning as I was walking to work I realised that I am failing by my standards, I am rather average by society’s standards and a superhero by my family’s standards. That gave me some perspective. I am okay. I can still do better. I can still do worse but the road to improvement is open for me as it has never been open for anyone in my family. All my failures and successes have led to this point where I can look around me and use all that information to make better choices. Not just that though, I could have done that yesterday too. It seems everything has converged in a way that allows me to bring every influence together to build something new and powerful. My problem has always been that I am never sure how to combine all my strengths and now I think I am ready to do it.

This is the time. This is the place to build anew from the old.


P.S. If this post makes no sense to you don’t worry because a thing is happening and when it all comes together you will be the first to know. Okay, maybe second, I will have to tell my mom first.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

My Magical Place: Captain America: Civil War Review



29 Apr 2016


I was sick for a week and on my return to the land of the living I found out that we were getting Civil War on 27 April (Freedom Day in South Africa). I just wasn't ready though, you guys. I was still working with that 7 May release date and I am still reeling from the first episode of Season 6 of Game of Thrones. Can the old gods and the new please give a nerd a break out here? But it's all good, I got my game face and Marvel fanboy underwear on and got ready for the biggest cinema spectacle of the year!



Civil War is the best Marvel movie to date

Captain America: Civil War is the third Captain America movie and the thirteenth entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. After the huge success of the second Captain America movie, The Winter Soldier, the Russo brothers returned to the helm for Civil War and they made a movie that hits all the right notes. I am going into full fanboy mode here. This movie is perfect and it seems that every year I say this about a new Marvel movie, but it’s Odin’s honest truth every time. What especially makes Civil War great is that it taps into all of the history and lore of the universe it takes place in. This movie is not here to accommodate anyone by explaining too much. It is simply the culmination of all Marvel’s Earth-based movies to date.


Plot overview

Civil War is set in a universe where all the actions of every hero in the Avengers team have led to this point in time. The world owes the Avengers a great deal for the amount of times they have saved it, but at the same time, who watches the watchmen? Who takes the Avengers to task when innocent people die in the collateral damage of their battles? This is the overarching question that Civil War poses and it is a fair question and difficult to deal with.

Civil War takes a lot of beats from Winter Soldier in that it is a political spy type of thriller, but it borrows tonnes from other Marvel movies like Iron Man 3 that shows that superhero characters don’t have to be in their suits the whole time - they can deliver powerful, emotional performances just as themselves. After an incident gone wrong in Lagos, Nigeria the US Secretary of State, General Thunderbolt Ross, calls the Avengers in to inform them that the world cannot tolerate them operating unchecked and that the United Nations has come up with what they refer to as the "Sokovia Accords", which will establish an international governing body to monitor and regulate all enhanced individuals like the Avengers.

The battle lines are drawn in a response to this development. Captain America’s response is that he does not agree to having the team effectively being run by the UN, which is a political entity and has its own agenda. By signing the act, the Avengers would only be able to work according to the say-so of the UN. Since waking up in the modern world, Captain America has had to deal with quite a lot. The guy is Marvel’s ultimate boy scout and is usually the sort of team player who would never question orders. Unfortunately politics is a messy business and the Cap has been burned on many occasions dealing with organisations like SHIELD/HYDRA and he is loath to allow the team to become puppets of such agendas. Cap thus rallies the members of Team Cap to his side, because they share the same belief, or in Hawkeye’s case, because he called first.

Tony Stark is also carrying a huge load on his shoulders since the incident in New York and even more with the incident with Ultron, which he was directly responsible for. The man has been having panic attacks and sleepless nights, because he knows there are dangers outside of our planet that the Avengers might not be able to deal with (we know that Thanos is lurking out there, after all. Does that guy just sit in his space chair all day by the way? I digress though). Ultron rose from these fears and Scarlett Witch didn’t help by giving him visions of a bleak future where everyone dies either. Tony is almost on the opposite journey that Cap is on in the sense that he starts off as this carefree character who doesn’t adhere to rules and picks up a lot more responsibility on the way to the events in Civil War. It's difficult to decide whose stance is right.

This is just the simplistic view of the plot, because there are other forces at play and there is an actual villain in the movie. Batman v Superman takes itself very seriously and Civil War finds a sweet spot between the seriousness of everything that is happening with friends fighting each other, but there are many moments where you can just laugh and have fun. The movie is long at 147 minutes, but it never feels like it and it is cut in a beautifully economic way.




Enter new characters

All your favourite characters are back and are all running around punching, kicking and shooting each other and the bad guys in super cool ways. All of them are there ... well, except for Thor, because he is doing Asgardian things and Bruce Banner is doing hiding out things. The highlights in terms of characterisation are the new people though. Chadwick Boseman makes his debut as T'Challa / Black Panther, the prince of Wakanda, the technologically advanced African Nation that is known for living in isolation and being the place where vibranium comes from. Marvel is pretty much done with long and windy introductions, so they just throw Black Panther in there with a brief but powerful introduction and the character then hits the ground running. The character is intriguing and I can’t wait for his solo movie and to explore Wakanda where, interestingly enough, they seem to speak Xhosa. I died of laughter in the cinema when T’Challa shares a moment with his father, King T'Chaka (played by South African actor, John Kani) and they just kick it in Xhosa, but with an East African accent.

Our favourite neighbourhood Spidy also gets a quick and punchy intro. Peter Parker is played by Tom Holland and he is the witty, funny, awkward Peter Parker we love from the comics. The movie also makes fun of the fact that his aunt, May, is so attractive (played by Marisa Tomei) in response to people freaking out on social media last year, because Aunt May is “too hot”.


Marvel just keeps winning and Civil War is just great. I can find zero fault with this movie. It delivers solidly on everything and all the characters are given their due in terms of screen time and personality. The action sequences are a feast, but the times where there is no fighting are also intense and while you’re still reeling from an emotional reveal they offset it with humour that provides the comic relief you need while not taking away from the gravitas of the situation. The new characters fit in and their roles aren’t just as cameos. All the Earth-based stories in the Marvel universe have led to this movie and it draws from and builds on the history and lore from the previous titles beautifully. Just go out and watch this one a few times. Just do it.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Respect the Hustle

Hello there, you beautiful, beautiful souls :).



I had a chat with the lovely folks over at Freelance Cape Town some months back and they decided to publish the whole affair on their blog! Here I though we were just having a nice chat between friends. But since we are airing laundry you can go check out their post on my life as an editor and freelancer here.

Stay fresh and as the kids say, respect that good ol' hustle.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

The movies in review: A look back at 2015

The movies in review: A look back at 2015



Hi Blogger buddies,

I am closing my year in style by taking a look back at 2015 at the movies over at my other goodbuddies' house, Bizcommunity.com. Check out my article there.

All I can say is merry Star Wars! Christmas can take a backseat this year ;).






Wednesday, 30 September 2015

C.S. Bulletproofreading for Interns Abroad

Hello world! I've officially kicked off my Bulletproofreading venture and I am hoping for the best. If you have no idea what I am talking about check out my Facebook Page, like that bad boy and then tell your friends, family and pets all about it! You can also send them my nifty pamphlet with my details.

To get in touch with me simply drop me an email at csiboto@gmail.com. To learn a bit more about my work you can visit my freelance profiles on the following websites: https://www.freelancecapetown.com/profile/609 and http://www.bizcommunity.com/Profile/CharlesSiboto.