Wednesday, 21 June 2017

DESPICABLE ME 3



            Somehow, I feel like this franchise has somewhat lost its magic. It remains fun & watchable...I think they never lost the humour, but this new film offers nothing more. And the plot is just terrible. It is short, dull & disjointed. The only redeeming quality is the humour which many people might still enjoy.

            I actually feel disappointed with this movie (given the potential it has), but I have to be fair. The humour is pretty good, and it really is what made the movie still watchable and, to an extent, enjoyable. There is just something about these characters that makes them fun, and seriously, how can you hate the minions. Also, there are some fun pokes & references to the outside world and other movies.

             But that is about all the positives I can think of. There really is nothing more that the film offers. And to talk about the plot, it is quite terrible. When a film is too long, sometimes you might get bored...but when a film is short & has a dull plot, it is just disappointing. And it is super disjointed. Like what happens to the girls doesn't really affect the main plot and just remains as a side story of its own. The same applies with the minions who just went on their own side story which doesn't add to the overarching plot. The previous films didn't have spectacular plot either, but at least they carry an emotional punch. This one doesn't. The emotional change in character and the relationship between the characters was what made the first film a really great movie for me. This one has none of that.

                  In truth, it is not a particularly terrible movie, as it can still be fun & enjoyable to watch, especially if you're a fan. But the film offers nothing more than humour, and the plot is just terrible & disappointing. And that makes me disappointed.

VERDICT: 45 / 100

Monday, 12 June 2017

THE MUMMY



            This might be the weakest summer movie I have watched so far (although, it has to be noted that I have not watched Baywatch, which I heard is really quite bad), and yet there are still good stuffs & enjoyable moments in this film.

             To kick things off, the world itself is quite interesting. The part where they try to introduce us to this "Dark Universe" was quite good, and I feel like I want to know more about this universe. Unfortunately, it seems that because they focus a little too much on this, they sort of forsake the main story itself. As a film of its own, The Mummy is a little too generic & shallow.

             The problems, unfortunately, also run a bit deeper than just the plot as a whole. Without spoiling anything, things will seem a little vague, but I need to say that there are a couple of scenes where the things that happen don't seem to quite make sense. There is no real clarity on what actually happened or where it came from, but it just did (and to the character's benefit, somehow). In movies, conveniences happen, but if the things that happen doesn't make sense and is not explained, it becomes annoying.
             Too vague? Yeah, sorry about that. Oh, and I also want to add that I have a similar feeling with the ending. I just wished there's a bit more clarity & explanation on the events that happened.

              But the movie has its positive aspects, though. The action sequences are quite good, and I enjoyed them. And Tom Cruise's character is quite likable (as he always is), and I liked the dynamic between his character and a few other characters (Chris Vail, Jenny).

               However, the plot still lacks the dramatic element. Meanwhile, the humour is a bit of hit-and-miss. The score/soundtrack is pretty good, but is not as memorable as other recent movies I've seen. Overall, there isn't really much to gush about this film. Nothing particularly stands out, and it is not quite a great film in any way. But the film isn't all that bad either, and can still be enjoyed. It was a fine start, but Universal will have to kick it up a notch if they want their Dark Universe to succeed.

VERDICT: 55 / 100

Thursday, 8 June 2017

SPOILER TALK: Wonder Woman

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Humanity

              Tackled on with a mix of comedic flair & dramatic dialogue is the idea that humans are imperfect, if not hideous & terrible beings. Even the optimism that Diana carries from her life in Themyscira gets tested time and time again in the outside world. I really like these scenes and how they made us open our eyes and realize the things we do as humans and our imperfect nature. Among these are scenes like the powerful conversation between Diana & Steve after Diana kills General Ludendorff.
              But the best scene has to be when Diana calls out the generals in the war room as cowards that should be ashamed of themselves and are doing their business about in the safety of their premises while their soldiers are out there fighting & dying. And it gets better when she compares to her leaders in Themyscira and of course it brings us back to Queen Hippolyta and the awesome General Antiope (who is both such a badass physically, and a very awesome character). Both lead their people in battle, and of course the death of General Antiope plays a big part in defining Diana's character.

Ares

              I think the reveal of the true Ares is pretty decently done, but it is more of the character itself that I have slight issues with. The 'bait and switch' tactic is understandable, but looking back, the character of Sir Patrick Morgan is quite different to Ares that it became harder to buy into the idea. For so long we see this Sir Patrick as someone who is more reserved, and then now this same person turns out to be the God of War. The idea just doesn't immediately sell for me. In fact, the "bait", in this case General Ludendorff, seems to fit the bill so much more.
              The final climactic battle between Diana & Ares was okay for me. It wasn't the best final battle in a superhero flick, but I quite enjoyed it. Meanwhile, one thing I actually pretty liked is the idea that World War I kind of happened because it was partially influenced by Ares himself, as the God of War. It is an interesting concept, although, in the end, humans by nature are both light & dark, and if that darkness takes over, war is one potential outcome.

Steve Trevor

               Steve Trevor is both a great character in general, but also a perfect opposite to Diana. In general, he is very likable and funny and a very relatable person for most of us as we follow his story. But he is also the perfect companion to the more rash & blunt Diana as she learns the human world with the help of Steve. The chemistry between the two is excellent (and a lot of credit goes to both Chris Pine & Gal Gadot), and it is because of this chemistry (and the opposing characteristics) that a lot of the comedic scenes work brilliantly. 
                Furthermore, it is this relationship as well that became the core of the dramatic elements in the film. As their relationship develops, they learn more and more from one another and this keeps us invested in these characters. And that is why the sacrifice of Steve Trevor in the end there was really powerful & meaningful. And there are so many memorable conversations between Steve & Diana, from the more comedic opening encounters in Themyscira to the aforementioned dramatic conversation between Diana & Steve about humanity (after Ludendorff was killed). But I would also like to add that the final moment between Diana & Steve before Steve's sacrifice was as perfect as it can get.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

WONDER WOMAN



             I think the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) finally got a hit on their hands. Wonder Woman is a great summer blockbuster with awesome action sequences, compelling story & interesting characters.

              A lot of things in this film are great, but let me just start off with a praise to the director, Patty Jenkins. The film is paced brilliantly, and it never got boring. It has excellent action sequences peppered throughout the film, and between those, there also these great character moments which are either dramatic & comedic. And the mix between the action, the drama & the humour is just perfect such that we keep on being invested and we enjoy the emotional ride.

                The action sequences are peppered throughout the movie, and all of these are great. And more than that, the setting/backdrop plays a big part in these sequences - be it the beach of Themyscira or the trenches & villages in World War I.

                 And between these awesome action, we have some great character moments. And I suppose that is why the comedic & dramatic scenes work well...because the characters are so well developed that we liked them and get to be invested on them (especially so with Diana herself and Steve Trevor, who we follow in the film). And so once we get to a solemn & dramatic moment, it really hits. Similarly, the comedic scenes in this film work so naturally and fits the characters perfectly that it doesn't feel forced or cheesy at all.

                  The overall plot is quite good, and there are quite a few great & memorable moments (which I won't spoil here). Even the music is great and enhances both the action sequences & dramatic moments. The only thing I can hope for is just for the villains to be better developed, but this doesn't take away anything from the rest of the movie.

                 Overall, it really is an awesome summer blockbuster with a great blend of action, drama & humour...all of which are individually great and is paced brilliantly and is borne from the great characters in the film. Man of Steel remains a great film, but for me, Wonder Woman just took its place as the best DCEU film so far.

VERDICT: 86 / 100

Friday, 26 May 2017

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES



               Fast 8, Guardians 2, King Arthur, and now this...I think Hollywood should stop making movies which aren't necessarily great which I still end up liking/enjoying. It has become the same story (for me) with the summer blockbusters so far...I really need either a great blockbuster or a crap film now (just to shake things up a bit)...hopefully its the former.

                Although, with this film, while my overall feelings with other recent blockbusters are similar, there is quite a big difference. In the aforementioned movies, I find the overall plot rather generic but enjoyed the moments or sequences within the film. With Pirates, it is rather the other way around. The moments/scenes aren't quite that memorable, but I find the overarching plot very interesting. Obviously, I won't spoil anything here, but somehow the overarching plot here makes a lot of sense, and I admire the repercussions of the plot events. 

                For the first two-thirds of the film, it was a bit hit and miss for me. There were moments I enjoyed, but there were also moments I disliked. For me, the first act was a bit too dragged out and not quite interesting. But once we get into the seas, it gets much more interesting, and while some of the jokes didn't land (especially that stupid "wedding" scene), overall it was exciting. The last act, though, was pretty solid, and I personally liked the ending.

                The villain Salazar, meanwhile, is pretty cool & menacing thanks to a slightly eccentric performance by Javier Bardem. I think that guy can do no wrong. The action sequences are pretty awesome & fun, and the visual effects are well done. And as with all the other Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the score/soundtrack is just awesome. The music really gets you and really brings you into this world.

                 In the end, most of the film is really quite a hit and miss, but the last act was solid, and the overarching plot (major plot points) is excellent. It is neither the best nor worst in the series, and it is also neither the best nor the worst of the summer so far, but it is a film I really enjoyed.

VERDICT: 65 / 100

                 As with recent blockbuster films, I find it hard to convincingly recommend the film to everyone. But I think this is quite a fun movie, and you (generally) should be able to enjoy it, too.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Looking Forward: JUNE 2017

There is quite a lot of big movies that I am interested to watch this June, but unfortunately there is only one that I am really, really eager to see...



Wonder Woman (Jun 2-USA, Jun 1-UK, May 31-Singapore)

             And this would be the one. Kicking off June is easily my most anticipated film of the month and is the DC film I'm looking forward to most this year (yes, more than Justice League). This film looks awesome. The look of the early 1900s in this film is awesome, and I also like the incorporation of World War I into the plot. And as can be seen in the trailers, the film looks to have some great humour from the characters. And even the action sequences look awesome from the trailer. Directed by Patty Jenkins, I do hope this will be the first DCEU film that will really hit its mark, both critically & commercially. And by the way, all the trailers are awesome, but especially check out the second and the last trailer. I really like those.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tgk_63b-Mrw (Comic Con Trailer)
(Must See!!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HUlW21v1fQ&t=1s (Trailer #2)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piIUpbIlp8U ('Origin' Trailer)
(Must See!!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMYyemI0nxY (Trailer #4)


The Mummy (Jun 9-USA, Jun 9-UK, Jun 8-Singapore)

               Initially, I was quite excited with the notion of this film kicking off the Universal Monsters shared universe. Then they announced the cast (Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe, etc) and I got even more excited. It all sounded perfect. But then the trailers came out, and somehow...I'm actually not sold. I don't feel anything particularly special that this film offers, and I look at Tom Cruise, and he almost looks like he's just in another Mission: Impossible film (if Mission: Impossible had mummies/monsters). The first trailer wasn't really good, for me. The second & third one were better, but again, I don't feel anything special. 
              As of right now, I would much rather watch the 1999 movie with Brendan Fraser, because that one was really funny. I can't say the same about the sequels but I really enjoyed the 1999 The Mummy movie, and I had lots of laughs with it. With this new one, I'm really not that excited for it, but I do hope to be proven wrong when the movie comes out.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJxgxVH0Fsk&t=1s (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3Kq2qliOXc&t=3s (Trailer #2)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-l9U23HFn8k (Trailer #3)


Cars 3 (Jun 16-USA, Jul 14-UK, Aug 24-Singapore)

                I know a lot of people don't really like the Cars films (especially the second), and they are considered to be among the weakest of the Pixar properties. But personally, I have to say I enjoyed these films. And there is a certain appreciation I have for the creativity that comes into the idea of showing how cars live (sleep, work) like humans do...and they even have spies too (Cars 2, yes). So while I understand that people like the Cars films least, I still enjoyed them, and perhaps with a better written story, this next movie could redeem the franchise and be on par with the other Pixar films...or at least, closer to, because most Pixar films were really good in both the emotional story & the fun to be had.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYHv3GJtjto (Teaser)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctaGHP5-rh0 ('Next Generation' Teaser)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGGM5Sy5PJs (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bg0XgDfNQHM (Trailer #2)


Transformers: The Last Knight (Jun 21-USA, Jun 22-UK, Jun 22-Singapore)

                 This is perhaps one of those franchises that critics like least, but still made tons of money every time. It really goes against the natural order. Similar to the film above, I understand why a lot of people don't like these films, but I do find myself enjoying some of them. I completely agree that none of the Transformers movies were of good quality, but there are some cool moments to enjoy. So, with this next one, I'm not that looking forward to it because I don't feel the need/urge to watch another Transformers movie at this point. But, I do think there will be some cool action moments & visuals to enjoy. In other words, I don't completely hate or despise this franchise, but I do know that I can't expect the film to be good. But hey, who knows this one might be good?

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AntcyqJ6brc (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rW1byMeeZNA (Trailer #2)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQm3djLYWB8&t=1s (Trailer #3)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=011XwobhhQM (Final Trailer)


Baby Driver (Jun 28-USA, Jun 28-UK, Jul 20-Singapore)

                 There are two very simple reasons why I'm excited for this film. The main one is Edgar Wright. He is such a brilliant writer/director and he has his own unique style & comedic tone. I really enjoyed the Cornetto trilogy films with Simon Pegg, and it was also quite a missed opportunity that we didn't get to see his version of Ant-Man. But this film looks certainly right up his alley, and looks awesome, too. And by the way, the second reason would be the cast, with the likes of Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Lily James, my man Jon Bernthal and more. An awesome cast in a cool looking film by a brilliant director. I'm on board.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9YZw_X5UzQ (Trailer #1)


Despicable Me 3 (Jun 30-USA, Jun 30-UK, Jun 15-Singapore)

               The first Despicable Me film was awesome and had a very powerful story. The second was pretty good & quite enjoyable. Minions, however, wasn't really good. So this franchise currently has a worryingly downwards trend, and unfortunately, from what I've seen so far (the trailers), there is no sign that this film looks to bring it back to the glory of the original. I'm a bit concerned that the jokes are starting to feel jaded, and perhaps they are also running out of fresh ideas. Obviously, I could be wrong, but from the trailers, I see no sign of returning to the quality of the original film. But at least the film should be quite fun to watch, and hopefully the story is a bit better than what's shown so far.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rlq39IC07qA (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uApRZVgOvxc (Trailer #2)


Other Movies:

             A long time back (around when I was in primary school), I remember reading some of the Captain Underpants books. I don't recall much of it now...all I know is that I enjoyed the flip-o-rama parts of the book. So, with this upcoming animated Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6y0M4_ptUA), I don't have much excitement for it right now, but if it turns out to be good, I might be curious to check it out. The film comes out on June 2nd.
              Now, as most of you may well know, I actively avoid horror flicks, so I can't possibly advise you on upcoming horror films. But thanks to some outside sources, I do notice this one film called It Comes at Night (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-0hcF97wy0), which I heard is actually pretty good. There might be others to check out, but this is one you horror fans might want to keep an eye out for. This film comes out on June 9th.
                 Up next is a film I wasn't initially too keen on, but the trailers got me hooked. Directed by Colin Trevorrow (before he takes on the titan that is Star Wars Episode IX), this drama called The Book of Henry (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz8R2xxeyaA&t=42s) has a very intriguing premise, and I like seeing the mother-son dynamic in the film. This film comes out on June 16th.
                  Finally, a thriller called 2:22 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Af2N3N5rURI). I'm not fully convinced of the quality of the film (partially because of the lack of big names), but the film does carry an intriguing premise. This film is out on June 30th.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD



              Sometimes I look at box office tracking numbers, and I pity films like these. This movie is not bad at all, and yet it looked like it will be a major flop...and that is just sad to see. I realize that this is nowhere near the best movie of the year, but it actually isn't that bad. I had fun with the film, and most of all I enjoy the unique cinematic style employed by director Guy Ritchie. I'm not sure the exact reason why but it really is so sad that this film doesn't seem to appeal the mass audience.

              Firstly, let me agree to the fact that this movie, ultimately, isn't that great. The overall plot is pretty substandard and it lacks the meaning and depth for the characters. So, in the end, it simply becomes a chain of events that occur, but doesn't quite impact character developments that much. And to add to that, even the characters (including the villain, which is quite a shame) aren't quite memorable, except for Arthur himself.

              That being said, I really enjoyed the hell out of this film - and the key to that is the cinematic style of Guy Ritchie. These fast cut sequences were just so different than what you'd get in normal films, and they are just plain fun to watch. The humour that you see in this film (which is partially due to this particular cinematic style) is a typical Guy Ritchie humour - kind of similar to the ones you might see in his other films (The Man from UNCLE, Sherlock Holmes). And in this day & age, movies with a unique cinematic style don't often come by, so I really cherished & enjoyed these moments.

                However, I do have to admit that there were some continuous tracking shots which actually weren't that great. Unlike other better tracking shots (including the recent opening sequence in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), the ones in this movie lack the focus, so it looks more messy than awesome. Furthermore, the visual effects doesn't look very top notch, and neither were the action sequences particularly memorable. But its just a general observation, and I won't complain too much about those.

               Finally, apart from the unique cinematic sequences, there is one other part of this film that stands out....and that would be the score/music by Daniel Pemberton. The score in this film, especially the ones that accompany the fast cut sequences, are such a perfect match and enhances the feel of these sequences.

              In the end, with the flaws as mentioned above, I realize that this is nowhere near the top echelon movies of the year...but there is fun to be had in this film. And for me, the unique cinematic style & humour employed by Guy Ritchie, along with the accompanying score, is really worth the watch and worth the price of admission.

VERDICT: 70 / 100

               I don't want to go running around telling everyone to go catch this movie, but with the flaws above in mind, I really do believe that you will have fun watching this film and the (rare) unique cinematic style in this film is something to be cherished and enjoyed.