xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Image: Paramount Pictures

Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is back, and he’s just as hook on adrenaline as ever. The extreme sports junkie is called in to once again save the world as part of Augustus Gibbons’ (Samuel L. Jackson) xXx program.

As far as action movies go, xXx: Return of Xander Cage is everything people love, without brining anything new to the table. Stunts, explosions, girls in bikinis, and guys with no shirts. It’s all well and good, and if action movies like this are your thing then, by all means, check it out. In all, it’s very reminiscent of late 90s, early 00s action flicks with big explosions and little subtlety.

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Hidden Oasis

The Laurels of Chinchilla

Country Queensland isn’t always someone’s first choice for a holiday destination, and Chinchilla is no exception. But if you’re willing to give it a go, this little town has a lot to offer; in particular, a secret gem perfect for the weary traveller. The Laurels of Chinchilla offer boutique creek-front accommodation, far away from the hustle and bustle of the normal tourist routes. From their home along the banks of Charlie’s Creek, the Laurels have basic rooms within the main house and stunning, stand-alone cottages throughout the property; there’s something to suit any need or taste.

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At first glance, you’ll find beauty, serenity, and privacy. And that’s more than enough to guarantee an amazing getaway. But for those who look a little deeper, there is plenty under the surface. Owners Greg and Shara have poured their hearts and souls into this sanctuary. Everything from the decorative features, to the walls of the cottages themselves, have been hand-crafted by Greg. His use of recycled and found materials promises that each piece you look at is one of a kind, with its own story to tell. Shara, an interior designer by trade, has fashioned each of the rooms and cottages in individual styles, so each one has a life all its own.

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Sing

Image: Illumination

While he may not be the best businessman, Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey) has the spirit of a showman; and anyone who is serious about showbiz knows one key thing. The show must go on! In an attempt to save his beloved theatre, Moon decides to host a singing contest. Que all animals great and small! From a tiny snail to a giraffe whose head in in the rafters, there are auditions of all kinds, their acts and varied as their species.

In the end, the line-up includes Gunter (Nick Kroll) and Rosita (Reese Witherspoon), two pigs with very different styles, Mike (Seth MacFarlane), a little mouse with big opinions of himself, Ash (Scarlett Johansson), the rock and roll porcupine, chronically shy elephant, Meena (Tori Kelly), and Johnny (Taron Egerton) the gorilla, wanting to find something more than the family business. Continue reading

Red Dog: True Blue

Image: Screen Australia

Whether it be the beauty of the Australian outback, an adorable dog, or the story of a young boy and his best friend that draws you to this film, you won’t go away disappointed.

Director Kirv Stenders returns with Red Dog: True Blue, both part prequel and sequel his 2011 Red Dog that captured (and broke) so many hearts. Without spoiling too much, the prequel part of the tale tells the story of young Sydney boy, Mick (Levi Miller), whose mother sends him to live with his grandfather after the death of her husband. Michael’s grandfather (Bryan Brown) owns and runs the NAME cattle property. Living this rural and remotely is a challenge for Michael at first, but when a storm brings a little red pup, Blue (Phoenix), to his side, things start to change.

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Moana

Image: Disney

Summer holidays means kids movies! And you can’t go wrong with a little bit of Disney magic.

Moana is the latest heroin to join Disney’s repertoire. This water loving Polynesian girl is the village chief’s daughter. While her mother and father want nothing more than for Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) to take her rightful place as the future chief, the young woman has dreams of her own. She wants nothing more than to be with the sea. Her love to the ocean is so great that when an ancient curse invoked by the demigod Maui (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) threatens all life, the water choses Moana to help fix it.

Being Disney, you come to expect a pretty catchy sound track; and Moana doesn’t disappoint. With Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton) on board, you can expect to have at least a few of these tunes stuck in your head long after the movie has finished.

Catering for multiple ages, this film has the colour and sound to occupy the littlies, those expected shrouded jokes for the adults, and a complex and entertaining enough storyline to entertain anyone in between.

One particular feature, which may seem small to some but had me internally shouting, was the fact that the characters actually put their hair up! So often you see animated characters with ‘princess hair’ that, no matter how rough things get, just seems to sit perfectly. Well not here. You see Moana’s amazing curls get in her way on occasion, enticing her to just tie them back and get on with her mission!

As far as animated movies go, 2016 is set to finish on a high with Moana.

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

Image: Warner Bros.

Lord of the Rings Tour with Nomad Safaris – Glenorchy

I’m going on an adventure! Much like Bilbo, I was at first hesitant about what I was to embark on. There were so many different tour choices from multiple different companies on offer around Queenstown that I wasn’t totally sure where to start or if it would even be worthwhile. But after stumbling across a Lord of the Rings store filled with more merchandise than I could possibly take home with me, I had my solution. The salesperson there recommended Nomad Safaris, the tour company attached to their business. So I tromped on down to their booking office and selected my tour for the next day.

Sitting in the lobby of my hotel, I could feel the excitement build as the black Jeep pulled up out front. My tour guide, Badger, was a wonderful conversationalist from the start, answering any questions I could think about Queenstown and the surrounding areas as we drove to collect the others who were to embark upon this quest with us.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Image: Disney

Over the past 39 years, we’ve been given a reasonably complete timeline for the Star Wars galaxy from the Skywalker point of view. While this is all fantastic, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story marks the first time the goings on of the rest of the rebellion have been brought forward (at least since the dismissal of the extended universe).

In Episode IV: A New Hope, the Alliance were able to destroy the Death Star, thanks to intel provided by a group of dedicated rebels. Rogue One tells the story of the rebel fighters who acquired the Death Star plans in the first place. Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), the estranged daughter of an Imperial scientist, Cassian Andor (Diego Luna), an Alliance Intelligence Officer with vast field experience, and K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), the reprogrammed, and extremely opinionated, Imperial droid are just the base of the team tasked with finding the newest Imperial plans. Continue reading

Trolls

Image: DreamWorks Animation

It’s time to dive down the rabbit hole in a swirl of colour, hair, glitter, and music. If you can get past the psychedelic use of every colour in the spectrum, you’ll find a story a friendship, self-belief, and how to find happiness. But if you don’t want to think that hard, just sit back and enjoy the rainbow splattered song and dance numbers.

For twenty years, the trolls have live happy lives, free of the fearsome Bergens. Princess Poppy (Anna Kendrick) enthusiastically leads these bright little creatures in celebrating their freedom each year with a party; this year’s being the biggest ever. However, not all the trolls agree with her idea. Branch (Justin Timberlake) is Poppy’s polar opposite. Preferring to be unnoticed, this drab green and grey troll refuses to take part in a party so loud it could potentially lead the Bergens to the troll village. And he does NOT sing.

As predicted, Poppy’s party attracts the attention of a particularly gruesome Bergen who kidnaps her friends. It’s then up to Poppy and overtly negative Branch to save the day.

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Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Years before Harry, Ron, and Hermione graced the halls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the wizarding world was already in full swing. In this newest addition to JK Rowling’s repertoire, we are introduced to one Newt Scamander. Mr Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is a young English wizard (and a Hufflepuff) with a fascination for all magical creatures under the class of beast. His travels take him to 1926 America. Through a series misfortunate occurrences, Newt has the great opportunity of meeting witch sisters Porpentina ‘Tina’ (Kathrine Waterson) and Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), and nomaj (the American term for a muggle), Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler).

Eddie Redmayne is positively adorable in his portrayal of Newt. With his long blue coat, bowtie, and pleasant, if quiet, mannerisms, Newt is a stereotypical English gentleman. His character is all the more obvious when stood alongside Dan Fogler’s Jacob. Jacob, while still a gentleman, is much more outwardly confident and talkative. In one scene, Jacob’s charisma and Newt’s honest curiosity are beautifully displayed in their body language as they carry a conversation; Jacob making sure that Newt is still there and interested, while Newt is constantly angled towards his friend, showing undisrupted attention and interest.

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