Monday, 5 March 2018

Looking Forward: MARCH 2018

This is a little late, I know, now that we're in March already, but there's quite a lot of films to look forward to this month...



Red Sparrow (Mar 2-USA, Mar 1-UK, Mar 1-Singapore)

                Some people have mentioned the notion that this is probably what a more "realistic" take of a Black Widow (Marvel) movie would be like. And I get why they'd say that. It is a similar concept - a Russian female ballerina who joined a secret program to turn them into a spy. But while I get the appeal of the film, I am not that intrigued by this particular film. And I am sad to say this, but while I know that Jennifer Lawrence is one of the best actress alive, I am already bored of her characters and performances.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_sAY0gNyH8 (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3m155Oj-V0 (Trailer #2)


A Wrinkle in Time (Mar 9-USA, Mar 23-UK, Mar 8-Singapore)

                 I am very much curious about this film, but I don't really understand much about it, so I am not exactly very excited. The trailers show some enticing visuals, but I don't understand what I see so I have doubts on the story itself. But if it turns out to be good, this could really be one of the surprise hits of the year.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNw0PSLtJhk (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yh1KKotWzow (Trailer #2)


Tomb Raider (Mar 16-USA, Mar 14-UK, Mar 8-Singapore)

                 I find it a little tricky to place this film in my mind. On one hand, the film looks promising and I think it could be a good, fun adventure film. However, as I am such a big fan of the recent (reboot) Tomb Raider video games, there comes the feeling where I have my definitive Lara Croft (performed by Camilla Luddington) and I don't exactly need a Tomb Raider movie because even the stories in those games are already very good.
                 But I do get the idea that this film opens up opportunities for further financial gains, and movies are more widely accessible to the public audience, as compared to the gaming community. So perhaps I will go into this film with a mindset of hoping to enjoy a nice adventure flick, but I might not associate this with the Lara Croft I know in the video games.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2w5VZmos5I4 (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOEHpkZCc1Y (Trailer #2)


Pacific Rim Uprising (Mar 23-USA, Mar 23-UK, Mar 22-Singapore)

                   I still don't think that the original Pacific Rim was a great movie, especially from a story perspective. But there is just something to like about it, and it is really an enjoyable film. It had excellent characters, and watching it again recently, it actually had excellent visual effects and it looked so real. A Guillermo Del Toro directed film will never look bad (and by the way, his recent film The Shape of Water just won the Oscar, so well done to him for that).
                 Now, on Pacific Rim Uprising, it almost looks like it lost everything that made the first film great. The characters in this sequel looks shallow and over-the-top, and the actions & visual effects (from the trailers) looks rather fake & cheap. The first film wasn't great, but it was done with great heart & effort. This one just looks bad and uninteresting. I hope I'm wrong, but that is my impression of this film so far.

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


Ready Player One (Mar 29-USA, Mar 28-UK, Mar 29-Singapore)

                A Steven Spielberg directed science-fiction film will always be up there in my to-watch list. Add to that the brilliant cast and the promising story from the novel by Ernest Cline and also (hopefully) a memorable score/soundtrack by Alan Silvestri. But there is something more that excites me beyond all those, and that would be all the possible Easter Egg references and inclusions which ranges from 80s pop culture (like Back to the Future) to comic book characters to the video game world (like Tomb Raider, Street Fighter) and even more modern ones (like Overwatch). These are probably less significant when it comes to the story, but it just adds another level of excitement to the movie itself.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiK2fhOY0nE (Comic Con Trailer)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aifnWlP_sM (Trailer #1)


Other Movies:

                  In March 2, an action film titled Death Wish (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkVCA0LDhwI) was released. Unfortunately, it looked like many other generic action flicks, and it stars Bruce Willis (whom I haven't seen in a good movie for a while). Worse still, the reviews from critics aren't that good.
                  Then, on March 9, we have the action-comedy flick Gringo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-bZLM3I-C0) and also a disaster-action movie called The Hurricane Heist (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56whWF2NJrM). The latter film looks a bit too exaggerated and it does not appeal to me at all. On the other hand, Gringo is a film that I never knew about, but the trailer made me interested. It looks fun.
                 Finally, as we near Easter, we see the release of both Paul, Apostle of Christ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyOqQZUDdO4) and Sherlock Gnomes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zC9b1orltc8) on March 23rd. The first is, as the title suggests, a biblical story adaptation - smartly playing off the Easter season - while the other film is an animation flick which looks pretty interesting and boasts a pretty awesome voice cast.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

BLACK PANTHER




              There is so much to like (or at least, to appreciate) in this film that I actually wanted to say it is a must watch - but I can't quite say so. Black Panther is still among the better films within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I would still recommend everyone to consider watching it (especially if you like these kind of films), but the film still has noticeable gaps/flaws from a storytelling quality perspective.

               As I mentioned, though, there are so much to like and so many good things about this film. The characters (and to an extent, the actors' performances) are what stood out most. Chadwick Boseman shows he can lead the film as T'Challa, able to be dramatic or funny, powerful or struggling, depending on the period in the story. Michael B. Jordan & Lupita Nyong'o were also great in their respective roles. But the standout for me has to be Letitia Wright's character - who is funny, but more importantly, brings a different level of energy & carefree-ness (modernity) in a community still high on tradition. I think Shuri is my new favourite character in the MCU.

               But while the characters were great & well developed from the beginning, it is unfortunate that they did not go through much development throughout this particular story itself. There is not too much change (or struggle) in character even for T'Challa himself. So, while the overall plot isn't actually that bad, unfortunately it also does not significantly change/impact most of the characters. And the sequence of events didn't feel as tightly written/edited as it could be. There are scenes which I felt could be fleshed out a bit more, and vice versa.

                Meanwhile, all of the action sequences were great and so were the visual effects. I also want to give credit specifically to the production design team for the look & feel of the setting (Wakanda, for the most part), and then also for the ideas of the different pieces of technology. In particular, I like the look of the Black Panther outfit and the mechanics of it.

                There are quite a few comedic moments peppered, but gratefully, it didn't take over the film (like what Thor: Ragnarok or Guardians of the Galaxy did). It's about time for a change. The remaining aspects of the film were decent or okay, but nothing else really stood out. And overall, it remains a great Marvel film which I really like - perhaps too much so that I wish I could plainly say that this is a must watch film. But I am only being a little melodramatic, so don't listen to me too much - this is still among the better MCU film which definitely is worth a watch!

VERDICT: 80 / 100


Wednesday, 14 February 2018

THE CLOVERFIELD PARADOX



                 Perhaps the biggest appeal of this movie is the surprise marketing campaign of releasing a movie immediately on the day itself the trailer was released. Maybe a little bit because of the word 'Cloverfield' in the title, but it surprises many people when the trailer is released during Super Bowl, that the film itself will release in Netflix that night. This has never happened before, and it really got the buzz.

                   But that seems to be all there is - the buzz, the hype...because the quality of the film didn't really deliver. And in a way, it now makes more sense to be released in Netflix rather than in theatres, because it does not justify a theatrical release. The movie isn't particularly bad, but there isn't much in it as well. The premise of the film was exciting, but the execution wasn't and the dialogue was rather poor.

                   As a TV watch, it is not bad. Most of the performances are well delivered, especially the lead protagonist Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who was brilliant. And the premise was really intriguing, and the overall plot actually isn't bad. It works. That being said, there isn't much more the film has to offer. Everything else that happens are rather bland and predictable, and most of all, the dialogue was quite poor, especially in the beginning. Meanwhile, the suspense & discovery element of the film just about does enough to keep me interested, but I don't feel satisfied at the end of it.

                  For a TV watch in your day off when you having nothing else to do, sure, it works. But it is by no means a quality film.

VERDICT: 52 / 100

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE



              For a trilogy I never cared much about, I surprisingly enjoyed this film. And its not that the story is groundbreakingly good or something...its the production design that I appreciate. The action sequences were not bad...and the rest of the film are just what you'd expect from a Maze Runner film. But from the first film on, something has constantly improved, and that's the production design.

               While I am usually an advocate of 'story first' when it comes to movies, I do appreciate these visual details - which is why I go to movies and not read books. There is a certain pleasure in being able to see a dystopian world with different settings like the messy, war-torn outskirts versus the beautiful technological marvel inside the city. And that is what this film does brilliantly. There seems to be a lot of thought that goes through in capturing all the details and creating the settings and backdrops. And not just that, even the character designs and clothing were excellently done. I have special admiration for that one character played by Walton Goggins - just for how he looks.

                 Now, coming to the story...it's actually not half bad. It works for the series and it is simply what you'd expect from this trilogy. But it works, it's decent. Similarly the characters are still not great (and nor are the performances), but yeah, not bad. It works. The action sequences were pretty fun, helped by the production design as well which makes it so believable and enjoyable.

               And I think, overall, a pretty decent film for a trilogy that I never much cared for. The characters and story weren't great to begin with, and so they end as such. But the production design of this final film makes it a bit more enjoyable to watch, and I appreciate the effort put into it.

VERDICT: 68 / 100

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Looking Forward: FEBRUARY 2018



Peter Rabbit (Feb 9-USA, Mar 16-UK, Mar 8-Singapore)

               From the outset, this was a film that I could never say I am interested in. There is just something about CGI animals interacting with live people that is always hard to like (unless you are The Jungle Book). But maybe it is more of the goofiness of these types of film which puts me off. That being said, I do feel that if I watch this film, I won't be completely bored either. I like Domnhall Gleeson as an actor. Rose Byrne is pretty cool as well. Even the rabbits are voiced by some of my favourite actors, with the likes of James Corden, Daisy Ridley, Matt Lucas, etc. Despite the fact that I don't like the look of the film overall, there are things within the film that I like. And maybe the goofiness is what makes it entertaining to watch.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahW0AP1ecxY (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYzpAL3mKB4 (Trailer #2)


Black Panther (Feb 16-USA, Feb 13-UK, Feb 15-Singapore)

              This is it. The stand out film of the month, and also my 2nd most anticipated film of the year. There is just no more way I can further emphasize my excitement for this film. The character himself T'Challa/Black Panther is easily the best character in Captain America: Civil War, and is now among my favourite superhero in the MCU. Add to that some very stellar cast in this film, including the return of one of my favourite actors alive - Andy Serkis, as Ulysses Klaue. And finally, the most exciting thing for me has to be to see Wakanda in the big screen. A technologically advanced nation in the midst of Africa. How cool is it to see a nation in the midst of the forest & jungles of Africa but littered with technological advancements like cloaking technology, etc.
                And if you have not seen the trailers, you are missing out. Especially that second trailer, which is super cool. Check it out!

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWkJg4qfZG8 (Teaser Trailer)
MUST SEE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHLU3T-e2t4 (Trailer #1)


Game Night (Feb 23-USA, Mar 2-UK, Feb 22-Singapore)

               I actually didn't know about this film before, but then I saw the trailer, and I have to say, it looks pretty fun. When a comedy has that mix of action or mystery, it always become a bit more fun and meaningful. And though there looks to be some cheesy moments, there also some pretty funny moments. And the cast also looks great. Overall, I am not too convinced of how good this film will be, but there are good signs, and I am quite interested with this film.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90a88XoQA8I (Trailer #1)


Other Movies:

               It is not often that a film based on a true story gets to be portrayed by the real people themselves, but that is the case with The 15:17 to Paris (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFFZ3-jcQVs), which tells about the 2015 Thalys train attack, but more so about the lives of the people in it. The trailer is not bad, but I don't think the film appealed to me. This film will be out on February 9th.
               Also out on the same day is the concluding chapter of a trilogy I could not care about, Fifty Shades Freed (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5RZEt3arI0). Yeah, that.
               Next up, out on February 16th, is a stop-motion animation film which stars the voices of Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston, and more. How cool is that? But the thing is, there is always something about stop-motion that puts me off. And unlike Kubo and the Two Strings (which I liked), this film Early Man (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMD9_AKK_FI) does not quite appeal to me.
               Finally, out on February 23rd, is Annihilation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBWm4qpTRTQ), a science-fiction film which sounds interesting & promising from the premise, but somehow the trailer didn't really sell me. 

Saturday, 20 January 2018

THE COMMUTER



              It looked like another typical Liam Neeson action flick before I watched the film...and it feels exactly like another Liam Neeson action flick after watching it. But, this is definitely one of the better ones. It is not exactly a great story overall...and even within it, there are moments which just doesn't feel right or makes sense. Yet, it is still nicely written and the thrills are there, so as an action film, its pretty enjoyable.

             With these kind of lower budget action flicks, there are usually quite a lot of wrong things that I ended up just listing down what felt wrong, or what could have been done better. This film does the basics right and I pretty much enjoyed it, so I don't feel too inclined to criticize it. The overall story isn't that great, and even after watching it & thinking about it for the next 3 hours, some things just doesn't make sense. 

             Yet, it does the other basics right, and does what an action movie needs to have. Some decent progressing narrative, yes. Some cool action sequences, yes. Even the thrills. I actually find myself surprised that I was enjoying the thrills when some things happen in the latter half of the film. And even the ending - though not necessarily groundbreaking - felt right and nicely written.

             So overall it does feel like a nice action flick that is pretty enjoyable. Not great, but neither are there big gaping flaws that turns you off. A pretty decent action flick to kick off the year.

VERDICT: 64 / 100

Friday, 12 January 2018

Best Movies of 2017 (Top 3)



3. Coco

                  By far the best animation movie of the year. The story of this film is as brilliant as it gets - as we follow this boy into the world of the dead and learns about the meaning of family. The characters are all wonderfully crafted, and music in this film is just brilliant. If anything is lacking, it would, in fact, be the humour - but in terms of quantity, not quality. But the rest of the film is just brilliantly done, and it is a wonderful story/adventure to behold. And the overall story is just so deep & meaningful that I would not hesitate to recommend this film to anyone.

2. Logan

                  This is a truly special film, and a very different kind of comic book film. The overall story is great, but its in the little details and scenes which I find special. There are so many memorable moments & interactions between the characters, and a lot of that is credit to the performances of these wonderful actors (Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and also Dafne Keen). Of course, the way they were written are also brilliant, and I like the fact that this film feels more like a character drama than a comic book film, with a lot more character conflicts than physical ones. And it has a western road trip feel to it, which is not something you'd see in typical comic book flicks. And the overall quality & execution of the story makes it such a special movie, and very much a great send off to the brilliant Hugh Jackman as Logan.

1. War for the Planet of the Apes

                   I surely can't pick another film with a one-word title, so I chose the longest title instead. No, just kidding, of course that is not the reason why. The reason why is simply because this film is such a perfect end to a trilogy of Caesar's story arc that began in Rise back in 2011. Though this film does not have as much action as the title seems to imply, it just feels right. What the character Caesar goes through feels true to his journey, but moreover, the other characters in the film stole the spotlight all the same, including new characters Bad Ape and Nova. They provide such perfect balance to Caesar in terms of character spirit and sentiments, and occasionally, the much needed humour. Overall, it is such an excellent film to end the trilogy - which overall is right up there challenging the best trilogies of all time.