Category: Reviews

My Top 10 Favourite Christmas Movies

Arrival Movie Review

Rating: 7/10

Arrival is a smart movie. Then again, in a world dominated by Marvel and D.C, any alien movie without hyperbolic action scenes can come off as unusually cerebral. Arrival follows Amy Adams’ Dr Louise Banks, a professor of Linguistics who is tasked with communicating with Earth’s newly arrived foreign guests.

Moana: A review of Disney’s perfect princess

Rating: 8.5 / 10

Moana is magic. This gem of a film gives us the 21st-century princess we deserve, using the backdrop of the Pacific Islands to bring us a story of a young girl who is doing her best to stay true to herself and her people. Moana is the young daughter of a chief who has an inexplicable call to the ocean, despite her father’s clear instructions to never, ever, go beyond the reef. Yes, we’ve heard stories like this before, but never quite like this.

The Fantastic and The Beastly – A review of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Rating: 6 ¾ wands

When I heard that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was being adapted to film, I had a lot of feelings about it. Released in 2001 to benefit the charity Comic Relief , you weren’t a Potterhead without your own copy. (Unfortunately, the original “textbook” is no longer in print in South Africa, so you will have to settle for the screenplay instead). Having watched the film adaptation, I still have a lot of feelings about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Here are the fantastic (and beastly) things about Fantastic Beasts (don’t worry – its spoiler free).

Book Review: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Rating: 9/10
Read this if: You love a good love story

High school. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. We’ve heard it all before. But never quite like this. I finished All the Bright Places in one sitting, and twenty-four hours later I am still reeling. Every once in a while, you read a book that mirrors that dark place of your soul, and finds a place in your heart forever. Jennifer Niven’s eighth book and first young adult novel has done that for me.

Book Review: The Pavement Bookworm by Philani Dlada

Rating: 6/10
Read this if: You’re in the mood to be inspired

The Pavement Bookworm is an important book. Not because it offers a unique style or narrative (it doesn’t) but because of what it represents – hope. Philani Dlada first came to our attention on social media around two years ago – he was the gentleman who sold books and book reviews on Empire Road and later Gleneagles Road. In his debut, an autobiography, he tells the story of his life – one filled with drugs, homelessness and ultimately finding redemption through his love of books.

A Quick Guide to the Xbox One

by Lauren Veckranges and Shane Veckranges

Microsoft’s Xbox One was finally released in South Africa this September.

As with any new console release, it has spurred on an existential gamer crisis for many of us.

Is it worth upgrading from an Xbox 360? Should I finally succumb to playing Halo from the comfort of my home despite my unwavering PlayStation loyalty? I can’t answer these questions, but I can break down the Xbox One for you, with a little help from my brother Shane Veckranges.

Initial thoughts

This console is BIG. Like, taken aback and wondering if it will fit in your TV cabinet big. The dashboard is similar to the 360, with the added flexibility of having your favourite apps on the dashboard with your game options, á la Windows 8

How cool this feature is ultimately depends on whether or not Microsoft plans to release this feature to the Xbox 360 via a software update in the upcoming months.

The Controller

As a tiny girl with even tinier hands, I personally found the controller a bit awkward at first. I could easily see my hands cramping after a long stint of Fable. Disappointingly, the stereo jack is an optional extra that makes the controller unnecessarily bulky and seem primitive when compared to the PlayStation 4 controller, which has this feature built in.

That said however, both Shane and I love the new controller. The battery is still replaceable with the battery finally being concealed behind the cover. The trigger buttons are broader which make it far more comfortable than its predecessor.

A big point of excitement for the game-addict that is Shane Veckranges is the improved battery life. The Xbox One maximises your controller’s battery life by utilising the Kinect to monitor usage. In other words, when you put your controller down Kinect notices and puts your controller on what effectively is “standby” mode.

Voice Control and Kinect

It is evident that the Xbox One was built around the Kinect with the user interface reacting to most gestures and motions, but not reliably. That being said, it can scan vouchers and codes for downloadable content which is fast, convenient and negates the need for the dreaded onscreen keyboard.

The voice control picked up most of our commands, but we wouldn’t expect less in 2014. What does bother us is that browsing your library becomes tedious as the Xbox One expects full names, so that saying “Forza” instead of “Forza Horizon” will return nothing. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

The Bottom Line

The Xbox One is priced to compete directly with the PlayStation 4, setting you back R6 300 for a 500GB console. There is no noticeable difference between the graphics, and as much as it pains me to admit it – it can compete directly with the PlayStation 4.

PlayStation Fanboys will stick to the brand because of exclusive games like Uncharted, Infamous and the Last of Us. That being said, Xbox does is home to Fable, Halo and the much anticipated Sunset Overdrive. So it all comes down to the games.

About the Authors

Lauren is a diehard PlayStation fan who has owned nothing else since the Christmas of 1998.  Shane is gaming addict, with an equal appreciation of Steam, PlayStation and Xbox.