Month: December 2015

FILM REVIEW – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I do not exaggerate when I say that this is THE biggest film event to hit the circuit this year. It does not disappoint, and is a reminder to all stalwart fans as to why we have remained loyal to the Force for all these years, even when the Dark Side has threatened to overtake us (we won’t speak of that awful Clone Wars debacle).Star Wars Media Release pic 2

The events in The Force Awakens take place 30 years after those in Episode 3 (Return of the Jedi – 1983). So this (episode 7) is the first of a sequel trilogy – I’m not going to go into how all that works again, it’s tedious, so just refer to my previous Star Wars 101 post  to discover the sequence of episodes, prequels, sequels and all that jazz!

What we have here is a very welcome return to much more authentic, original looking, less overplayed special effects. I know you’re thinking this sounds ridiculous – it is, after all, a science fiction action film – but Star Wars purists will understand what I mean. There is much less of the exaggeration that was evident in some of the prequel episodes, which led to a dilution of that genuine look and feel we’d become used to in the earlier films. Thankfully, director J. J. Abrams together with one of his original writers, Lawrence Kasdan, is right back on track here, and not only with his take on the cinematography, but with the script too. Once again, George Lucas plays a creative consultant role – his name being synonymous with the Star Wars franchise – with both Lucas’ and Abrams’ companies (Lucasfilm and Bad Robot) producing. For the first time, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures will be doing the worldwide distribution for a Star Wars title. This is a truly exciting and tremendous collaboration of industry giants!

The quips, the witty repartee, the imparting of wisdom: pay attention, it’sStar Wars 10 all there! Han Solo, played by the rather rumpled and forlorn, but nevertheless endearing, Harrison Ford still gets the good lines, along with his delightful sidekick Chewbacca (he’s a Wookiee!). Carrie Fisher as General Organa (formerly known as Princess Leia), is surprisingly gentle. She’s understated and refined – I Star Wars 14suppose I found her still more of a princess than a General!  Newcomers, Daisy Ridley as the scavenger, Rey and John Boyega as Storm Trooper Finn, are naturals in their roles, and it’s refreshing to watch their characters develop onscreen both as individuals and as part of a team. The incredible Lupita Nyong’o is the wise and wonderful Maz – for me, she’s the Yoda in this piece. You just want to hang on to every word she says! Adam Driver as Kylo Ren (the Darth Vader lookalike), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux) and Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke) deliver sufficiently chilling andStar Wars 9 evil roles. The only disappointment for me was Oscar Isaac as resistance pilot, Poe Dameron. I felt his performance was far too deliberate and forced, and it just fell flat.

Oh, and there’s an adorable little droid called BB-8!

(Just an aside here … Did you know Storm Troopers were human? I didn’t! I can’t believe it took me 7 episodes to reach that realisation! Were we supposed to think they were automatons all this time?)

There’s been much talk about the prominent feminist role in this film, but quite honestly, I don’t know why it has to be taken as a loud statement. For me, the louder message that needs to be heard is Rey’s constant Star Wars 12yearning to return home to her desolate planet of Jakku (you’d be forgiven if you mistook it for Tatooine, they’re that similar), before learning that you need to find home within yourself, and with what you carry inside you. But ultimately, although many will interpret it in many different and convoluted ways, it will always come down to the fact that this is a story about the battle between evil and good – in this case, the First Order and the Resistance.

So … as you sit in the darkened theatre and the familiar music plays; as the words scroll up the screen in front of you (in 3DIMAX, I hope), as the goosebumps rise on your arms, settle down in your seat as you feel that warm, comfortable sense of coming home to that galaxy … far, far away.


MEDIA RELEASE: Star Wars: The Force Awakens releasing in IMAX® 3D

For fans like me it seriously does NOT get more exciting than this … 

Media Release

Ster-Kinekor: Great Moments at their Greatest

Dated:   11 December 2015

(Star Wars: The Force Awakens releasing in IMAX® 3D)


“The force is calling to you, just let it in…”

Star Wars Media Release picStar Wars Media Release pic 2

The wait is nearly over… with just a few days to go until the South African release of the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens in IMAX® 3D on 16 December 2015.

The film releases at Ster-Kinekor cinemas countrywide – including its IMAX and Cine Prestige theatres – two days before its US release. This seventh installment in the Star WarsTM Saga promises to be an adventure of epic proportions as audiences travel back to a galaxy far, far away!

As Star WarsTM fever grips South Africa, Ster-Kinekor has announced that advance bookings to watch the film in its IMAX® 3D theatres have reached record levels. To date, more than 34 500 tickets have already been purchased to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Ster-Kinekor cinemas across South Africa.

Of these pre-sales, more than half the tickets – 18 300 (as at 09 December) – are bookings to watch the film in IMAX® 3D, which offers the most immersive cinematic experience in which to watch this latest film in the Star WarsTM Saga. Come 16 December, Ster-Kinekor estimates that pre-ticket sales across all its cinema offerings – IMAX® 3D, Cine Prestige 3D and in 2D and 3D at all other Ster-Kinekor cinemas – could reach record-breaking levels.

This figure also represents the most advance bookings of any IMAX title for Ster-Kinekor, which is quite an achievement, considering that this number of tickets is spread across only six screens: the IMAX theatres at Gateway in Durban, The Grove in Pretoria, CapeGate in Cape Town, Baywest Mall in Port Elizabeth, Cradlestone Mall in Krugersdorp, and the new IMAX Theatre at Eastgate in Johannesburg.

Star WarsTM fans of all ages who have followed the saga will now be able to return to that galaxy far, far away, meet new heroes and villains, and welcome back some old friends in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Set 30 years after Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, cinema-goers will be able to delve into the events that transpired after the Rebel Alliance triumphed over the evil Galactic Empire over the forest moon of Endor.

The IMAX® 3D release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been digitally re-mastered into the image and sound quality of an IMAX Experience® with proprietary IMAX DMR® (Digital Re-mastering) technology. The crystal-clear images coupled with IMAX’s customised theatre geometry and powerful digital audio, create a unique environment that will make audiences feel as if they are in the movie, and part of the Star WarsTM action. For an experience of universe-sized proportions, witness this adventure unfold in 3D at a Ster-Kinekor IMAX cinema near you.

 About the film

Lucasfilm and visionary director J.J. Abrams join forces to take you back again to a galaxy far, far away as Star WarsTM returns to the big screen with Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

 The film stars Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew and Max Von Sydow. Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk are producing with Tommy Harper and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The screenplay is written by Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt. Star Wars: The Force Awakens releases in South African theatres on 16 December 2015.


For more information on Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Ster-Kinekor and IMAX® 3D cinemas, download the Ster-Kinekor App on your smart phone for updates and to book tickets from your mobile.  To find out what other exciting promotions Ster-Kinekor has on offer, visit or Follow @sterkinekor on Twitter or Ster-Kinekor Theatres on Facebook. For queries, call Ticketline on 0861 MOVIES (668 437) or book at the box office.





Not everyone joins the mass exodus out of Joburg in December. Some of us stay put. It’s actually quite delightful. The roads are a pleasure, that’s for sure! But everyone bemoans the fact that there’s nothing to do. Well actually there is, but in typical Joburg style we tend to hover within our 5km radius, visiting the same boring malls and drinking cappucino’s from the same coffee shops. It’s time to take a holiday, even if you’re not going away. We’re going to be tourists … at home!

One of the best ways to see the sights of Joburg is to catch a ride on the Red Bus Jhb‘Red Bus’. Operated by City Sightseeing South Africa, it runs on a ‘hop on-hop off’ system and operates 24/7 come rain or shine. You get on at a particular starting point, or at any point you choose en-route, and get on and off at your leisure, giving yourself enough time to ‘sightsee’ at each destination. It’s more cost-effective to purchase your tickets online and there are different options available. Here’s some of what you’ll see along the way.  Although these are some of the stops on the Red Bus tour, you can obviously also visit them at your own leisure. For many of our kids though, travelling by bus is somewhat of a novelty, so consider the tour as an option (although remember they might not want to spend as much time at some of the stops as you might want to).

Remember the Carlton Centre from our younger days (okay, I’m giving Carlton-Centreaway my age). Well, did you know that it stands 50 storeys high and is still the tallest building in Africa, with some of the most spectacular views over our city? In a south-westerly direction you can see the FNB Stadium (Soccer City), and immediately west if you look down, is Gandhi Square. To the north you can see the Braamfontein and Hillbrow skylines and beyond these, the leafy northern suburbs. Looking out from the midst of all those buildings, it’s hard to believe that Joburg is considered one of the biggest man-made forests in the world, with about 7-million trees!

The Carlton isn’t just about high-rise views though. A huge ground-level and underground shopping centre thrives underneath the office tower. Here you’ll find an abundance of shops in a vibrant shopping centre, 46% of which is underground!

MabonengOn weekends, the Carlton Centre serves as a connection to the MABO’go shuttle to Maboneng Precinct , one of the city’s leading regeneration movements where you can find some of Johannesburg’s leading fashion and design stores, art galleries, restaurants and entertainment spaces. Maboneng offers several one-of-a-kind experiences, including the popular Market on Main every Sunday.

The James Hall Museum of Transport  based in La Rochelle is the largest transport museum in South Africa! I must admit, I’d never even heard of it! In conjunction with the City Council, the late James Hall founded the museum in 1964. He was a car enthusiast with a special interest in vintage models. The oldest motorcar on display is a 1900 Clement Panhard. Up until 2012, his son Peter was head of the museum. Peter honoured his father’s legacy by collecting and preserving vintage cars. The museum houses a collection of over 2500 items and appeals to a cross section of society, from school children learning about the history of transportation to enthusiasts from both South Africa and overseas.

The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 09h00 – 17h00 but is closed from 12h00 – 13h00. Entrance to the museum is free, and it operates as a non-profit organisation. All donations are welcome. You can contact them for further information on 011 435-9718.

The Newtown Precinct is the hub of Joburg’s Arts and Cultural world. Here, you can visit the SAB World of Beer , which is now open 7 days a week.  The World of Beer was born in 1995, during the country’s first full year as a democracy, when SAB celebrated a century of brewing mastery. To commemorate this milestone, the company opened what was then known as the Centenary Centre, a museum designed to showcase the history of South African beer. It was one of the first major investments made in the Newtown Cultural Precinct, which ultimately paved the way for the incredible future development in the area.World of Beer Patio

Today, the SAB World of Beer includes a tour that has been developed and perfected to give visitors insight into the history and culture of beer: from its ancient origins, to its African heritage, its European ancestry, and its role in South Africa’s story, past, present and future. Detailed information on the brewing process is also provided, and you’re encouraged to sample raw barley and hops (i.e. what beer is before you get to buy it in the store and drink it cold from the fridge) and to ask questions along the way.

After the tour, you are invited to a beer tasting, in order to understand and appreciate the subtle flavours of everything you have learnt. Alternatively, you can relax in the Tap Room, taking in the gorgeous panoramic views of Newtown as you enjoy two complimentary local SABMiller beers and delicious pub lunches.

Tours cost R95 per adult (R90 if you’re on the Red Bus route), Pensioners and students (with valid card) are R85 and R30 per child (It goes without saying that kids aren’t allowed to sample the beer!). Opening hours are 10h00 – 18h00 7 days a week including public holidays. For further information call Felicia on 011 836 4900 (ext. 115)

Staying in the Newtown area, the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre is perfect for Sci Bonokids of all ages. This interactive Science museum is unmissable. There are various exhibits and programs on for the holiday period so it’s best to take a look at their website or contact them for more info.  They’re open 7 days a week from 9h00 – 17h00 and on weekends from 09h30 – 16h30. They’re closed on Christmas and Good Friday. Cost is R25 for kids (aged 3 – 16), pensioners and students (with valid cards), and R40 for adults.

Overlooking the Newtown Park is the Workers Museum, one of the last surviving examples of municipal compounds for black male workers. The compound was built in 1913 to house migrant workers who came to Johannesburg from all over South Africa, hoping for a better future, leaving their families behind, to work on the mines and in towns and factories. Inside the compound, conditions were harsh; there was no privacy and the Compound Manager had total control over their lives. There was a stark difference between the housing of the white skilled labourers and the black domestic workers.

Today, the compound and the houses stand as a heartrending reminder of the migrant labour system.

Take a walk across Mary Fitzgerald Square, the heart of the Newtown Precinct; a fitting dedication to a woman who was Joburg’s first female city councillor, elected in 1915. She was also a union leader who fought for better working conditions in the early-day mines.Museum Africa

Overlooking the square is the imposing facade of Museum Africa, originally known as the Africana Museum. This free-of-charge museum displays an impressive 850 000 (approximately) objects (there are actually many more housed in the archives), including significant collections of paintings, manuscripts, African cultural artefacts, Cape silver, ceramics, furniture, photography, costumes and explorer maps among various other things!

There’s also the Bensusan Museum of Photography that provides fascinating insight into the development of photographic technology. I can personally vouch for the fact that this is a really fascinating place!

Origins CentreLet’s leave Newtown and move on … to the Wits Campus, or more formally, the University of the Witwatersrand. Although more recently infamous as the site of student protests, it’s actually also famous for its word-class museum: The Origins Centre. The Centre is dedicated to exploring and celebrating the history of modern humankind, telling the story of the emergence of human beings and humanity in Southern Africa.

This university’s archaeology department is also world-famous for some of the most important hominid fossil discoveries in an area north of Johannesburg known as the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Apart from being of general interest, if you’re planning on visiting Maropeng or the Sterkfontein Caves at the Cradle of Humankind then a visit to the Centre here first is a must.

The Origins Centre is open daily from 10h00 – 17h00. Adult R80, child (under 12) R40, temporary exhibition R45, lecture R50, film R50, and it’s 50% off entrance fee with your City Sightseeing ticket.

The Wits Art Museum (WAM) is on the corner of Jorrisen and Bertha streets with its main entrance in Braamfontein, rather than on the Wits Art Museumcampus. WAM’s architectural spaces are awe-inspiring. Add to this its sizable art collection and it is clear why you should make time to visit this Jozi attraction. There’s a great coffee shop in the foyer too, which you could use as a convenient lunch stop during your hop-on, hop-of exploration of Jozi.

WAM has more than 9 000 pieces of art in its collection all of which are not on display simultaneously, which gives you the excuse to visit on different occasions. Be aware that the museum is only open from Wednesdays to Sundays from 10h00 – 16h00.

The Planetarium is also on the Wits Campus – the visible stand-out dome Planetariumbeing a well-loved landmark in the area. Again, I’m probably giving away my age if I tell you of my fond memories of school trips spent gazing up at the darkened, star-clustered interior of this enthralling auditorium is where you can learn about the elliptical movements of the planets. I always loved it here. There was just something so mysterious about getting lost in that night sky, and when the lights came up at the end of a show I was always sad that it was over! Take your kids and re-live some nostalgia!

In my next post, I’ll take you on a trip through some of the sights of Soweto. If you haven’t taken a day trip there, it’s an absolute must! Especially if you live right here in Jozi.


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