Friday, 20 October 2017

GEOSTORM



             I didn't actually expect to like this film, but truth be told, it's not bad. This film has all the looks of a typical simple-story action flick, not unlike a few things Gerard Butler has done recently. And it actually ends up like one...but it's pretty well done. So it's not that this movie has brilliant story or great action or anything, but for what it is, it is done quite well & I kind of enjoyed it.

              Almost all aspects of the film can be classified as 'good not great'. One thing that stood out for me - because I really don't expect it at all - is some of the character relationships, especially Gerard Butler's character and his brother. It is very well thought out and explored throughout the film. Again, I feel like they could actually show or tell more about their backstory to make it more meaningful, but I didn't expect such intricacies, so I'm glad they went out this far.

               On the other hand, if I had to pick out a thing that I don't quite like - that would be the dialogue & the humour. A lot of the jokes are dull and flat - some, a little cringy. Meanwhile, the plot is fine, the action is decent...even the visual effects were pretty good. Again, nothing particularly stood out or is outstanding, but they were good enough to make me enjoy the film. A decent watch.

VERDICT: 60 / 100

Saturday, 7 October 2017

BLADE RUNNER 2049



             I mentioned recently that I am probably not the biggest fan of the original Blade Runner, but I do appreciate its story potential & world expansion...and I think this sequel more than delivered. This film treads on similar footsteps to the original in some aspects such as the lack of fantastic action sequences (which isn't necessarily a bad thing, by the way) and slow pacing, but the story & characters are excellent, and the setting is gorgeous.

             For a futuristic setting science-fiction movie, Blade Runner 2049 lacks the fantastical action sequences which most others have, but then again, this film was never meant to be about that. In fact, what made Blade Runner special was the concept of Replicants and how their existence challenges the idea of what it meant to be human.

              And so to have a story revolving around that concept which is both smart and constantly engaging, I think, is brilliant. And that is where Blade Runner 2049 duly delivered. In many ways, the story is much like a typical police-detective story with a lot of mystery/investigative element as we follow the protagonist in uncovering the plot - but again, with the added science-fiction concept of Replicants - and that is probably why the slow pacing didn't bother that much. As such, the overall plot is smart & interesting, meanwhile the story which slowly unfolds keep us constantly engaged.

              The remaining aspects of the film are kind of a mixed bag. The lack of action sequences remain a missed opportunity to take this film up another level. Similarly, a little more humour will never be out of place, as long as it is delivered in the right place & time. Meanwhile, I really like the engaging story & dramatic elements that pours out from it. And to quickly speak about the more technical stuff, I think the visual effects are really well done, and I find the world & setting both gorgeous and unique.

               One last thing I want to credit are the acting performances of some of the cast. In general, all the performances are decent, but without spoiling anything, the stand out scene for me is when two people are looking at a certain memory and you see the emotions immediately in their facial expressions. That level of performance stunned me.

               Anyway, initially I didn't really think I would like this film, but actually, I do. I still feel that by not having more action sequences & humour (though this is in keeping with the tone & style of the original film) is a missed & untapped opportunity to take this film to the highest level among the cinematic elite. Yet, it remains one of my favourite films of the year, and I really like it.

VERDICT: 80 / 100

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Looking Forward: OCTOBER 2017

Despite the lack of big-budget blockbusters, this October is packed with a lot of potentially good, interesting movies...


Blade Runner 2049 (Oct 6-USA, Oct 5-UK, Oct 5-Singapore)

               I am not the biggest fan of the original Blade Runner, but I do appreciate the story & the setting, and I also realize its potential for story expansion. And it seems that this sequel does just that. Everything I have seen and heard about this film points to this being a great film - the strongest aspect being the director, Denis Villeneuve, who's recent work is nothing short of brilliant (Arrival, Sicario, Prisoners). And to top it off, the trailers for this film are excellent, especially the second trailer. Really looking forward to this now!

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJA48WZ9bis (Trailer #1)
MUST SEE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOn-ICHKTE0 (Trailer #2)


Professor Marston & the Wonder Women (Oct 13-USA, Nov 10-UK)

                Well, what are the chances that in the few months after we have our very first live-action Wonder Woman film - and just about a month before that same character reappears in Justice League - we have a biopic about the creator of Wonder Woman himself. Either this is brilliant planning to try and make use of all the hype of the superhero flicks, or just lucky timing. But about the movie itself, I am slightly curious but have no real intent of seeing it.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r991pr4Fohk (Trailer #1)


Geostorm (Oct 20-USA, Oct 20-UK, Oct 12-Singapore)

               Oh, look, a sequel to London Has Fallen. Wait, what? Oh, it isn't. No wonder the president looks different. Anyway, I actually have a bit of concern with Gerard Butler's recent action films. They have been either very generic (like LHF) or just poorly written (like God's of Egypt). And looking at the trailer for this film, I have this bad feeling that it could fall into either category (or worse, both), especially with some bad jokes/lines already shown in them. If this film could prove me wrong, it will make October (in terms of movies) a little bit brighter.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FStnSqKi9KI (Trailer #1)


The Snowman (Oct 20-USA, Oct 13-UK, Dec 7-Singapore)

              Mystery thrillers like these are always intriguing to begin with. Especially with a trailer like this one has. There is a sense of creepiness and danger, as the lead character picks up the clues from the actions of the serial killer - and for audiences, it is an intriguing ride to follow the character as we ourselves try to figure out the truth. Whether the film pulls it off and whether it's good or not is another thing we'll have to wait and see. But for now, I am quite intrigued by this film.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8LttobzeQ4 (Trailer #1)


Suburbicon (Oct 27-USA, Nov 24-UK, Nov 23-Singapore)

                A crime comedy film, but with a very different & unconventional style. Much like the above, I am quite intrigued about this film right now, especially due to the interesting setup and how the film is presented...but whether it ends up good is something we'll have to wait and see.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBB-buUOsmQ (Trailer #1)


Other Movies:

              As mentioned above, there are quite a lot of potentially good/interesting films. The first of which is The Mountain Between Us (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mu41hu1a_8c), which is out on October 6th, and looks pretty interesting judging by the trailer. Not to mention the brilliant main leads.
             Now on October 13th, there are four films of my radar (though none that I'm really too keen of). The first of which is an action film starring veteran actor Jackie Chan, which is called The Foreigner (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33iuQu3UtjI). Unfortunately, it does look like a second-rate action flick. The other three are biopics. The most interesting for me would be Marshall (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfvzEXhhWNk) which is about the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. It stars Chadwick Boseman, and the trailer looks pretty cool.
             The next one, I think, will bring out a lot of tears, and it is called Breathe (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6y0t2n_8iTc), starring Andrew Garfield as a man paralyzed by polio as his health deteriorates, but not his spirit. Finally, there is Goodbye Christopher Robin (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQq3aFSijRg) which is a biopic about the writer/creator of Winnie-the-Pooh, starring Domnhall Gleeson.
             Out on October 20th is a film about a crew of firefighters titled Only the Brave (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE_GY6zccqc). The cast involved looks great, but I'm not entirely convinced about the plot. Nor the trailer for that matter. But, we'll see, it might be good.
             Finally, you guys who follow my blog will know I actively avoid horror flicks, but if they come to my radar, I will let you know. And on October 27th, we have Jigsaw (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcb68kAOvt4), which is apparently part of the Saw franchise.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE



            This is a proper sequel, in every sense of the word. It takes all the best parts of the first film and either brings it back or enhances it. Though I don't think a lot is enhanced, but given how good the first film is, sometimes its good enough just to enjoy more of the same. And like the first film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, to my satisfaction, has a very heartful story and some very emotional moments.

              This sequel brings back all the qualities that made the first film great. The high-octane action sequences are great fun to watch - with great action choreographs (especially those whips & lassos) presented by fast camera movements. And given the R-rating, director Matthew Vaughn didn't need to hold back. Although, I have to say it is used more to the comical side than to the gory side of things.

               And there's also some of that fun humour & dialogue. Meanwhile, the plot overall is probably nowhere near best story of the year, but it is decent. And I like the fact that it really progresses the story & development of the characters - which is also why I can say that this film is a proper sequel, because it is, even in the sense of the story.

              But the part I like best is the fact that this film has some very heartful moments. Obviously, I won't spoil them here, but there really are a few scenes I could pick out which were surprisingly quite emotional. So although this film is made more as a fun, silly action movie on the surface, this also shows that Matthew Vaughn cares about the story and the characters - and I like that and that deserves commendation.

              In the end, this film is really a proper sequel in every way, from the story & characters, and to the qualities it brings back. If you have a movie as good as the first Kingsman movie, sometimes more of the same is good enough. And this story moves forward and expands the world, and yes, I want to see more Kingsman movies...

VERDICT: 82 / 100

Sunday, 17 September 2017

SPOILER TALK: The Defenders S1

It has been a month since the release of the first season of The Defenders...
But I just have this nagging thought on why, on a very personal level, I didn't actually like it...

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               Before I start, I just want to call out again that I didn't necessarily think that this is a terrible show. It's not really a good one either, but as mentioned in my non-spoiler review, there are some things to enjoy from this series, and the story progression of the characters are fine. But there are things which happened which I really didn't like, and this is why I really disliked the final two episodes...because at the end of episode 6...

               Elektra killed Alexandra and took over as the main antagonist. On so many levels, I didn't like this. First and very simply, you had a character like Alexandra played by the amazing Sigourney Weaver who is suddenly undermined by an Elektra character who had been like a lost child throughout the series. Though Alexandra wasn't necessarily a great villain herself, it just gets worse by being undermined by Elektra.

             Furthermore, this is an Elektra who had spent a full episode sleeping in Matt's bed and seemingly remembering her past life. And all of a sudden, she is now this badass who wants to take over the world? How this that happen? What was the plan?

            And the worst part for me is that, on a very fundamental level, Elektra is not this big bad main antagonist character. If she is to be the best killer in the world that The Hand unleashes upon the heroes, then that works. But you look at that character on a very fundamental level, and you can see that Elektra is not a big bad antagonist. She is not a villain with a plan. It just doesn't fit and doesn't make any sense.

            And this is why I really disliked how the final two episodes of the series turned out to be. It did not make sense on many levels as I have described above, and it just loses its powerful opposing force. Especially when you've had great villains like Wilson Fisk or Kilgrave, this is just...pathetic, unfortunately...

Sunday, 10 September 2017

AMERICAN MADE



             The only knowledge I have about the man named Barry Seal - which is who this movie is all about - is from the Netflix series Narcos. Meanwhile, this film employs the narration style similar to that which was used in Narcos as well - albeit with more humour such that it becomes more Guy Ritchie-esque. So, to me, it ended up feeling a little bit like watching a Narcos episode (or movie, rather) that is directed by Guy Ritchie (which it isn't, because the director is Doug Liman).

              That being said, the movie is pretty good and pretty damn enjoyable. While my comments above make it seem like its nothing I've never seen before, it does not mean that I didn't enjoy it. As a matter of fact, I did. To think about it, it is actually a very fun style of storytelling which actually (fortunately) has not been overly used in modern movies. Of course, not all movies fit this type of style. So then, to be able to see this kind of fun, fast-paced style (and one that is done brilliantly) is a joy.

              To add on to that, Tom Cruise is perfect in the role. Of course, the real Barry Seal probably would not be remotely close to how he is portrayed, but for the sake of the movie, Tom Cruise did a bloody good performance that really fits and enhances the style of the film. The rest of the cast was okay, but there was no standout.

                The plot is decent, but again, it is the narration style that stood out - credit to director Doug Liman for that. The music was great as well and fits the tone of the movie perfectly. Otherwise, I think this is an excellent film which pulls of the style to perfection, and it makes it a rare biographical film that is just fun to watch with a great character you like to see. Really worth the watch.

VERDICT: 82 / 100

Saturday, 26 August 2017

TV Series: THE DEFENDERS S1



            The Netflix MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) team has produced some of the best series ever. Apart from Iron Fist - which wasn't that highly rated but still enjoyable - the others have seen very positive reception with the high quality series of Daredevil, Jessica Jones & Luke Cage. So, there is a lot of expectation riding on this mini-series that finally brings together the four street-level New York heroes.

            While there are some really enjoyable moments within the series, and some memorable scenes, too, I find The Defenders rather disappointing. The high quality storytelling and dialogue (as seen in their respective individual series) is missing. The series kicked on a little in the middle episodes after a very slow start in the first few episodes - but then was disappointing again at the end.

              Some of the positives includes the interactions between these main characters. The clash of personality is an interesting aspect of the show. And so is the coming together of the supporting characters from respective shows and the banter they have. The new villain Alexandra (played by the wonderful Sigourney Weaver) is good to an extent - but still lacks that cutting-edge persona. And of course, the action sequences are visually among the best we've seen.

              That being said, the storytelling & dialogue is poor. It didn't hook me in and get me invested as much as I did with the other series. The story feels shallow and without spoiling anything, a lot of the plot points only made me confused & annoyed. And those final two episodes also highlights why - despite having a high caliber actress in Sigourney Weaver - the villain in this show is nowhere near the likes of Kingpin or Kilgrave. And by the way, I underlined the word 'visually' in the previous paragraph because while the action looks cool, it didn't feel like it mattered because I wasn't invested enough and it never felt dangerous. Take, for example, the fight between Daredevil and The Punisher where each of the blow felt dangerous and you fear for what happens next. This one does not feel like that at all.

            With so much expectations riding on this series, it certainly feels disappointing. There are some cool action sequences & enjoyable moments, but is overall a disappointing set of events to watch...poor storytelling. Among the Netflix MCU, Daredevil S2 remains my personal best & favourite, closely followed by the high quality Jessica Jones S1 & Daredevil S1. Iron Fist S1 is still enjoyable, but Luke Cage S1 & The Defenders S1 are both disappointing for me.

VERDICT: 40 / 100

              I would not personally recommend this to anyone, but if you are an avid follower of the Netflix MCU, then it seems that there is no choice for you but to watch it and just try to enjoy the positives and keep your expectations low. Here's hoping The Punisher will be a much better turnout...