Friday, 21 July 2017

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES



            When I first started this blog, it was because of an awesome, powerful film that concluded what is arguably one of the best trilogies of all time - the film was The Dark Knight Rises. And I gave that film a perfect score. And 5 years later, I have that very same feeling again with War for the Planet of the Apes. It is spectacular in so many ways, from the story, to the characters, to the performances, and more.

            The emotional journey that Caesar went through in this film is so powerful, and you really feel that in this film. And this is due to a great mixture of awesome work from the whole team - from the brilliant performance by Andy Serkis, the visual direction of Matt Reeves, and even the visual effects that really brought it to life.

           Meanwhile, a lot of the other supporting characters are also very memorable. For example, the likes of Maurice & Rocket are such excellent companions to Caesar. They counterbalance Caesar's emotions, but they also care so much for him. On the other side, The Colonel, who acts as the antagonist, is both menacing when he needs to be, but you can also understand the reasons why he does what he does.

               But in terms of standout characters, it has to be both Bad Ape & Nova. Bad Ape acts mostly as a comic relief, but it did not feel forced or cringey at all. The humour really works and adds a nice balance to the overall dark tone of the plot. Nova, meanwhile, is just something else. I don't want to say too much about the character now, but she is really such a wonderful character & plays a big role/impact (not necessarily physically, but emotionally). You'll like her.

                I seriously can't find anything in this film that I don't like at all. I thought to myself, that if this film has a more epic battle, this would be even more perfect. But actually, it doesn't need it. Even as it is, the film is already the perfect conclusion to a spectacular trilogy, and I really enjoyed/appreciated every single moment in this film...for me, this already is the perfect blockbuster. 

                 It has the perfect blend of intense action sequences (with a great accompanying musical score by Michael Giacchino), a great emotional story, excellent memorable characters, and even nice touches of humour along the way. I thought about it for a while, but then I realize, it was a very easy decision for me...this is easily the best movie of the year so far!

VERDICT: 100 / 100

Saturday, 15 July 2017

SPOILER TALK: Spider-Man: Homecoming

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Spider-Man

            In my main review, I spoke about this being the best Spider-Man seen in film. And I obviously can't spoil it back then, but I would like to list down some of examples of these excellent moments. There are actually a lot of these but a good example would be the montage early in the film when he does these little things in the street like stopping a bike theft or helping an old lady with some directions, when Tony & Happy were not responding his calls. All this really feels exactly like what a Spider-Man would do.
           But the parts I like best was when Peter has these conversations with his suit AI, Karen. These are just hilarious. Like when the suit keeps suggesting the instant-kill mode, or when suggesting the different type of web shooters...Peter's responses were just hilarious. And I also like it when the suit was in enhanced interrogation mode and masks Peter's voice. It made the voice intimidating, but the words that came out was one of a young teenager. The most memorable scene, for me, was when he was stuck in the warehouse and has these conversations with Karen while also trying out the different type of web shooters. Again, he does these funny things that only Spider-Man can do.
              All these scenes are super fun & hilarious to watch and which is why I can easily say that this is the definitive film version Spider-Man.

Peter Parker's Friends

             Also as mentioned in my review, I was initially very skeptical about the high school scenes in the film, but I ended up enjoying those a lot. Ned is a surprisingly very fun character, and so is the snarky, sarcastic Michelle. By the way, I don't quite like the MJ reference...but it doesn't bother me much. Meanwhile, I really like this version of Flash Thompson for being more of a fun character & modern bully, instead of the old school physical bully.
              The character of Liz was okay, but what I like was seeing how Peter has a crush on her and how he approaches her. I mean, these are things that we all feel at one point in time, but we don't see it happen with Captain America or Iron Man or Thor. By the way, the reveal that Adrian Toomes was her dad was such a surprise to me. I didn't see that coming at all, but it was a nice surprise.

The Avengers

               A very quick one here. I like the fact that while Iron Man and The Avengers deals with all these big threats and aliens and monsters, but they ignore these street level crimes on the ground, and that is where Spider-Man comes in. This gives that perspective that there are more dangers than just the ones from the sky, but even those closer to home. Which is also why I like that, at the end, Spider-Man rejects the option to be an Avenger, and instead chooses to stay at home and look out for the "little guy" in and around his neighbourhood.

Credits Scene

             I mentioned in my review that the mid-credits scene got me really excited for the future. And that is because, for a while, I thought Mac Gargan (who will end up to be Scorpion) had fallen from the ferry and died. But to see him in the mid-credits scene there gives me not only the relief that the character is alive, but also the excitement that if he gets teased like this in a credits scene, you can bet that he'll show up in future movies.
               And in case you are wondering, I am not necessarily a big fan of Scorpion, no...that's not the reason why I'm excited about this character. Rather, I am very much a big fan of the actor Michael Mando. I am such a big fan of his work, including as Nacho Varga in the Breaking Bad spin-off, Better Call Saul. But his best role remains as antagonist Vaas in the video game Far Cry 3, which is my favourite character ever in video games. I became a fan of him because of this game, and anywhere I can see more of him (more so if its in the MCU) is just going to get me excited.
                 Meanwhile, the post-credits scene is just brilliant. It is hilarious, and was brilliantly delivered by Chris Evans. Amazing stuff.

Friday, 7 July 2017

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING



           I am undecided on whether this is the best Spider-Man movie ever made, but for damn sure, it's the one I like the most, and it really is another excellent film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. They just don't know how to make bad movies. This film has great humour, great story, great characters...and this is, for me, the best Peter Parker/Spider-Man in film.

           I just have to start off by talking about Tom Holland's Peter Parker. Unlike other heroes like Iron Man (who is a billionaire) or Thor (who is a god), this is a character who has to deal with day-to-day stuff like school, socializing & even falling in love. It is so nice to see a superhero that needs to deal with & balance these things. And I can say that this is the best Spider-Man on film because of how he acts when he is on that suit. I don't want to spoil anything here, but if you just see what he does when he's in that suit, it is just fun & hilarious, in the way only Spider-Man can be. Which is why the humour in this film really hits!

             The plot was pretty good, but it is the characters that really made it work. All the supporting characters were quite memorable, from the likes of Tony Stark & Happy Hogan, to his high school friends Ned, Liz, Flash, Michelle. There was some great chemistry between the high school peeps, and they really feel like a modern bunch of kids. I was initially skeptical of the high school rom-com part of the film, but I ended up really enjoying it. And on the topic of supporting characters, the villain in this film is arguably one of the best in the MCU. Michael Keaton's The Vulture looks menacing & awesome in the suit, but he stands out more in his human persona.

              If there is anything that lacks in this film, I think that would actually be the action sequences. Not that it's bad, but some other previous Spider-Man movies did it better, so I can't say that this one stood out. That being said, (as mentioned above) I really like whenever this Spider-Man is in his suit in whatever he does...so there doesn't even need to be an action set piece...I thoroughly enjoyed watching this character do what Spider-Man does. There aren't too many jokes/humour throughout the film, but when there is, it really hits the mark.

              Another thing that probably didn't stood out much was the score/soundtrack...but I do have to say that the Spider-Man Homecoming Suite (theme) was excellent, so I'm going to give the composer credit for that. And without spoiling what it is, the mid-credits scene really got me excited for the future, meanwhile the post-credits scene at the end...well, it is very simply a must see!

VERDICT: 83 / 100

Sunday, 25 June 2017

TRANSFORMERS: THE LAST KNIGHT



             If you've seen all the previous Transformers movies, then you'd know pretty much what to expect from this new one. A mindless, bombastic action movie with uninteresting plot, dialogue & characters. I can still appreciate the action - and the music/score, for that matter - but nothing more.

             Actually, by now, the action sequences doesn't feel that special anymore. But it does remain enjoyable to see and the score helps to enhance the action. The problem is once it gets overly long, it is easy to lose interest because we don't get quite invested enough with the characters.

            And therein lies the core problem of it all. The human characters are not quite interesting and but somehow happen to have such pivotal roles in the film. Meanwhile, the Autobots themselves are much more interesting but weren't given enough backstory or any character development at all. For example, I would rather see more of an internal conflict that splits the Autobots for a while than just some simple childish skirmish among them. Optimus Prime went rogue, but this doesn't even seem to impact the Autobots emotionally any bit at all. It's such a wasted opportunity.

          In the end, it very much feels like a case of style only but no substance. All you see is some cool action which probably means very little if you're not too invested in the characters. However, the ending does make the overarching plot feel interesting. Somehow, I do still feel interested in this franchise, and yes, I do want to know what happens next. I don't think this film is good at all (and nor will I recommend anyone to see it), but it amazes even myself that I still have interest in the future of this franchise - somehow.

VERDICT: 40 / 100

Friday, 23 June 2017

Looking Forward: JULY 2017

The latter part of the summer movie season sees some powerhouses & some of my most anticipated movies of the year...



Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7-USA, July 5-UK, July 6-Singapore)

              To be very honest, out of all the superhero flicks this year, Spider-Man: Homecoming is at the bottom of my list. Don't get me wrong and think that I'm not excited about this film...it's just that I am excited about the others a little (or a lot) more...for quite a few reasons. Firstly, we have had quite a lot of Spider-Man movies in recent years, and they all pretty much had the same story beats. And looking at the trailer for this film, I don't see any major plot points that stood out or made it feel different. The only difference is the involvement of Tony Stark (whom I'm kind of bored of seeing right now) and Peter Parker's high school life (which is not exactly what I'm looking for from a Marvel flick right now). All that said, I'm still super excited to see this film and Tom Holland as Peter Parker, and for sure, I am not going to bet against Marvel Studios pulling off another awesome film.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9DwoQ7HWvI (Trailer #1)
(Must See!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGHGZjDguqw (Trailer #2)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxKbJrjR9qM (Trailer #3)


War for the Planet of the Apes (July 14-USA, July 11-UK, July 13-Singapore)

            By far my most anticipated movie of the summer. The first movie of this reboot series is a surprisingly excellent movie, and the sequel to that topped it in almost every way and is almost my favourite movie of that year. Those two are movies I deeply adore, and this third film could really seal the set as one of the best trilogies in film. And all the signs are pointing in the right direction. The trailers for this film are just spectacular and really brings the feel of what the underlying conflict of this film is all about. And the performances from the likes of Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson just looks brilliant. And I haven't even got to the best part of it all...the war! The war between these apes and the humans (as can be glimpsed in the trailers) looks to be both visually & emotionally intense. Totally can't wait for this!

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KWAxBlZKMA (Trailer #1)
(Must See!!!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IFAqAIWD6g (Trailer #2)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRf263nVNCM (Trailer #3)


Dunkirk (July 21-USA, July 21-UK, July 20-Singapore)

                I was always going to see a Christopher Nolan film, anyway, there is no doubt about that. But given his last film wasn't particularly spectacular, I was initially a bit reserved. But then trailer after trailer dropped, and it got me more and more excited every time. The backdrop of World War II is something I'm always fascinated about, especially taking into consideration my history of playing WWII-set video games. And that final trailer was the killer for me (link below). It is an awesome trailer with a feeling of increasing intensity, and it is arguably one of my favourite trailers of the year.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJePvN_4T_E (Announcement Trailer)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5QBye6-ToM (Trailer #1)
(Must See!!!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cmgiys2n1o (Trailer #2)


Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (Jul 21-USA, Aug 2-UK, Jul 20-Singapore)

               A big science-fiction blockbuster is usually the kind of film that is right up my alley...but unfortunately I have no interest in this movie at all. There is just something about the world & the aliens in this film that just screams "cheesy". Whereas in Star Wars or Star Trek, the world is still grounded & feels real. And to add to that, the main protagonists doesn't interest me at all. It is a little tricky to qualify, but these doesn't feel like characters I want to follow.
               I may yet end up watching it due to the stature of the film, but I have minimal excitement for the film. Somehow, this movie just doesn't feel right for me.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNrK7xVG3PM (Teaser)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3aOg6_7cEc (Teaser #2)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_shrCoqWh9k (Trailer #1)


Atomic Blonde (July 28-USA, Aug 11-UK, July 27-Singapore)

             Initially, this movie isn't even in my radar. But then the trailer dropped, and I saw how cool the action looks. Of course, then I realize it was from one of the director of the John Wick movie - David Leitch - so that explains it. But because of that, and considering the cast involved (Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, etc), I am now very much excited about this film.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JIqcMl0hzXs


Other Movies:

               There is only one other movie in this month which I had my eye on, and that would be the animation flick The Emoji Movie (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_nfdzMhmrA), which will be released on July 28. I am personally not too keen on this film, but I am slightly curious to see what the film will be about and how it will fare. And I don't even begin to know how they manage to get Sir Patrick Stewart to voice the poop emoji...

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