Thursday, April 24, 2014

PlayStation’s Road To Greatness Tour Schedule Revealed

Road To Greatness
We’re hitting the road again, bringing the latest and greatest in PlayStation gaming to festivals and events across the country. Tomorrow marks the first stop in our Road To Greatness tour at the Stagecoach Music Festival in beautiful Indio, California, and from there we will be heading to a different city almost every week until November! Here’s a list of the first few scheduled stops:
April 25 – 27
Indio, CA
May 2 – 4
Memphis, TN
May 9 – 10
Kansas City, MO
May 16 – 18
Columbus, OH
May 23 – 25
Tulsa, OK
May 31 – June 1
Houston, TX
June 19 – 22
Grand Junction, CO
Jun 25 – July 6
Milwaukee, WI
July 11 – 15
Minneapolis, MN
On the Road To Greatness tour, you’ll be able to go hands-on with dozens of new and unreleased PS4 and PS Vita games, compete in daily tournaments, and win awesome PlayStation prizes. Each event will pack its own unique set of surprises, so follow along with @HeyPlayStation on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss a beat.
Of course, this is just the beginning of our long journey until November. Keep checking the Road To Greatness website over the coming weeks for new event announcements, pictures from the tour, and to register for a chance to win a PS4 software prize pack.
You can also RSVP to any of these events on Facebook here. If you don’t see your home town on the list, tell us why we’re missing out by using #RoadToGreatness on Twitter. Who knows – maybe we’ll squeeze your city into our schedule of stops!

Xbox One and PlayStation 4 support added to Unreal Engine 4 in latest update

Moving a game from one platform to another -- from iOS to PC, from Xbox One to PlayStation 4 -- isn't as easy as it seems. Just change a few button prompts and you're all set, right? Not so much. There's a lot to consider: how do you control the game (mouse/keyboard/gamepad/touch/etc.)? does it sync up with online leaderboards? does it have the proper logos/attribution? Epic Games' Unreal Engine 4 aims to circumvent as much of that as possible, and today it's enabling two more platforms: Xbox One and PlayStation 4. In terms of Xbox One peripheral support, that includes Kinect, and in terms of PlayStation 4 peripheral support, that includes the Project Morpheus virtual reality headset.

Free Running Film Review: Brick Mansions

Parkour brothers

By Ben Mk (

For the uninitiated, Parkour is more than a sport — it's an art form, where the objective of getting from Point A to Point B in the quickest way possible demands strength, agility and focus. Its inclusion in films like Casino Royale and The Bourne Ultimatum have helped it to gain mainstream notoriety; but no films have been as instrumental in bringing Parkour to the masses as Luc Besson's 2004 film, Banlieue 13, and its 2009 sequel, Banlieue 13: Ultimatum — both of which starred Parkour's founder, David Belle. Now, ten years later, Besson and Belle are bringing the free running action stateside, with the Banlieue 13 remake, Brick Mansions.

This time, the story unfolds in 2018 Detroit (as opposed to 2010 Paris), where — with shades of Escape from New York — the government has erected a massive wall around an ├╝ber-dangerous section of the city known as Brick Mansions. Cordoned off from the rest of the civilian population, and with no law enforcement presence whatsoever, crime runs rampant within its slums; and their denizens have taken it upon themselves to govern them as they see fit. Some, like criminal kingpin Tremaine Alexander (RZA), have seized the opportunity to build an empire for themselves; while others, like ex-con Lino Dupree (David Belle), try their best to uphold the safety of the neighborhood — even if that means making enemies with dangerous men like Tremaine.

Outside its walls, no police officer dares to venture inside Brick Mansions, except for one: Damien Collier (Paul Walker), an undercover cop with an axe to grind (and maybe even a little bit of a death wish). When the powers that be inform him that Tremaine has hijacked an armored vehicle and stolen its payload — a neutron bomb — Damien is eager for the opportunity to settle the score with his nemesis once and for all. There's just one catch: he has mere hours to find and disarm the device before it detonates, killing millions. And that's where Lino — who also happens to know Brick Mansions inside and out — factors into the plan; for Damien will need his help in order to locate Tremaine — and the bomb — in time. Luckily for Damien, Lino has ample cause for joining the mission, as Tremaine is also holding Lino's girlfriend, Lola (Catalina Denis), captive, in retaliation for his vigilantism.

Just as Banlieue 13 marked the directorial debut of cinematographer Pierre Morel, editor-turned-director Camille Delamarre (who previously worked with Besson on Transporter 3, Taken 2 and Lockout) cuts his teeth on Brick Mansions, working from a screenplay by Besson himself. From bare-fisted brawls to bullet-riddled car chases, Delamarre churns out action sequences that are brisk and well-choreographed, hitting many of the same beats as the original. But Banlieue 13 still ranks as the superior film, thanks to its more inventive (and engaging) action set pieces and grittier tone. In contrast, pseudo-gritty is a more apropos description of Brick Mansions. It has all the right ingredients — gangs, guns and violence — but instead, Delamarre and Besson emphasize the more cartoonish aspects of the plot — which reach their zenith in a scene where a character all but sees cartoon birds encircling his head (though he does hear them), after being concussed with a brick.

But of course, Brick Mansions will forever be remembered as one of Paul Walker's final films. And though it won't redefine his legacy, it is a fair representation of his acting prowess, typifying his appeal as both a leading man and an action star. The nature of the material doesn't lend itself to showcasing his full range as a dramatic actor (unlike his part in the Hurricane Katrina drama, Hours), but Walker is a good fit for his role, turning in a performance that echoes his portrayal of officer Brian O'Connor, in the first instalment of the Fast and the Furious franchise. And his natural rapport with Belle, his on-screen partner in crime, goes a long way in selling the authenticity of their situation. The original film was partially driven by the interplay between their two characters, but Besson's updated screenplay transforms it into somewhat of a three-character dynamic, by throwing RZA — whose character is less of an archetypal villain than his Banlieue 13 counterpart — into the mix. Fortunately, their mutual chemistry works to the film's advantage; and it not only helps their performances rise above the often ham-fisted dialog, but it also makes their interactions one of the highlights of the picture.

The Bottom Line

Banlieue 13 may have been saddled with a B-movie premise, but it was infused with exhilarating stunt work and a certain edginess that helped to elevate it above its genre competition. Brick Mansions tackles a nearly-identical premise, but despite admirable efforts on the part of Walker, Belle and RZA, it can't avoid being eclipsed by its predecessor. As a standalone piece of action cinema, it's certainly a decent — if not brazenly campy — thrill ride. And to their credit, Delamarre and Besson imbue Brick Mansions with the same spirit as Banlieue 13. But it feels like some of what made the first film so uniquely appealing has been lost in translation.

Review Score: 3 out of 5 (Worth a Rental)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sony FMP-X5 media player announced for Netflix 4K streaming

Sony FMP-X5 media player announced for Netflix 4K streamingSony has announced plans to release a 4K media streamer for all of its 2012 and 2013 Bravia 4K TVs.
At a European press event held at Pinewood studios earlier today, Sony said the new FMP-X5 is intended specifically for owners of the KD-84X9005, KD-65X9005A and KD-55X9005A (4K TVs which launched too early to include an HEVC decoder) whose only previous option for 4K movie streaming was to secretly imagine watching them.
The new box will launch across Europe in August and will cost £350 - not exactly cheap for a box whose only announced feature is to stream House of Cards Season 2 in Ultra HD - that being the only currently available 4K title on Netflix, which is in itself the only HEVC 4K streaming service currently online.
Breaking Bad 4K is coming soon, of course, along with - presumably - a lot of others.
Sony says is at least considering adding support for Google's VP9 codec which would enable the streaming of YouTube's growing library of Ultra HD videos, but would not be drawn on whether this would be in place in time for the product's launch or if it would indeed happen at all. "It's under consideration" was the non-commital response to our probing questions.

No internal storage

In addition to the fairly steep cost, potential suitors of the X5 should be aware that they'll certainly need a robust internet connection if the X5 is to be anything more useful than an ornament.
Unlike the Sony FMP-X10 which launched for US movie lovers last year, there are no media storage options on board the FMP-X5, and that means no 4K movies will come bundled with the box, no 4K movies will be able to download onto the box, and of course there'll also be no buffering of 4K streams for anyone with ropey pipes.
Sony FMP-X5
We spied a USB port on the back of the X5 which does at least suggest you'll be able to play back local 4K content if you can download it onto another device, but of course, the only 4K movies currently available to download are Doesn't Exist, LOL Good Luck 2 and I Know What You're Not Watching Next Summer.
Sony's 2014 range of 4K TVs are unaffected by this news, as they're already fully compatible with HEVC - hands up who regrets being an early adopter.

Roku Streaming Stick review: TV everywhere

It happens every time I travel. I come back to my hotel room, flop into a freshly made bed, pick up the (probably sticky) black remote, and turn on the TV. I’m given the option to mortgage my home to watch a just-out-of-theaters movie, aimlessly surf through a bunch of local and basic cable channels, or take my chances with whatever’s on HBO. I flip through the 28 or so channels for about a half hour, and settle on some offshoot of Storage Wars before I go to sleep.
The Roku Streaming...
Continue reading…

AOL bringing Miramax movies to its online video platform

AOL doesn't just want short clips of newsy content on its online video platform, AOL On. That's why our parent company has signed a non-exclusive deal with Miramax to screen some of its movies on the service. The first flicks from the agreement will go up on April 30th, with "tens" of films from the catalog being made available on a rotating basis each month. Neither company was ready to disclose what particular titles we could expect, so while most of us are hoping to catch Clerks, Trainspotting and Pulp Fiction for free, don't be surprised if they wind up being the lesser lights contained on this list.