Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Most Anticipated Films of 2018 (Top 5)



5. Aquaman (December 21)

               Among the characters in the Justice League, Aquaman is the character I am most excited about, and I am excited to see the story and the conflicts in Atlantis. And among all the potential upcoming films in the DCEU (except maybe The Batman, because of director Matt Reeves) this is the film I am most excited about. Imagine all the characters and the battle which takes place underwater in Atlantis. And with James Wan at the helm, this film has all the potential to be among the best DCEU film as well.

4. X-Men: Dark Phoenix (November 2)

               X-Men: Apocalypse wasn't really among the best X-Men films, but it does so well in capturing the great feeling of X-Men films, especially the scenes in the school and with this young group of X-Men characters we have always known. And in many ways, the ending in that film felt like a new beginning of a great adventure to come. But outside of it, it felt as if it could be the end for the main folks James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and co.
              So to see all of them returning and really continuing on from where we left off is exactly what I want to see. Apocalypse ended with so much promise and potential, and I'm glad they took this opportunity. And I don't know how this will work, but I like the idea of going beyond Earth and into space. And though this will be Simon Kinberg's directorial debut, he has been such a mainstay throughout the series that I have all the confidence in the world that he can deliver.

3. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (November 16)

               The first Fantastic Beasts film was surprisingly very good and I think it was in my Top 3 of last year, too. It has a great mix of fun & drama, and the visuals of the period and the magical world is just, well...magical. With both J.K. Rowling returning to write the script and David Yates to direct, and all the key cast returning (especially Dan Fogler, who I really like), I can't be any more excited with this film. Wait, actually, I can - because now we have the addition of Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald and Jude Law as young Albus Dumbledore. So excited for this!

2. Black Panther (February 16)

                Remember when I said earlier that director Ryan Coogler is working on another project. This is the one. This is him proving that he really is one of the top, young directors out there. The trailers are really cool! I like the look of Wakanda and I am really glad that we get to explore this fictional nation. Nowhere in our real Earth will we ever get to see a technologically advanced region hidden among the forestry natures of Africa. And the cast also looks great, including Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger, and I am so especially happy to see the involvement of Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue. Everything I have seen in the trailers are just so cool - the story, the characters, the action sequences, the visual design, everything. If not for the fact that the film in number 1 is the culmination of an era, Black Panther would top this list.

1. Avengers: Infinity War (May 4)

               So what is this film that tops Black Panther? It is a movie involving Black Panther and more than a dozen of other characters that has made up 18 other films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I mean, we're talking about a movie that culminates an arc of a dozen big characters over 1.5 dozens of movies. Many of the previous MCU films have touched upon or even heavily involved the Infinity Stones. This film is set to be the culmination of it where one of the great beings in the universe, Thanos, aims to hunt down and potentially wield the power of all the stones, requiring all the superheroes that we have been introduced to to team up.
               Well, do I actually even need to explain this? I mean, I think you all will already know of all this and probably already feel the same excitement as I do. And just look at that teaser trailer they put out. It breaks a record viewing of a trailer within 24 hours (230 million views). And even from Marvel Studios' perspective, this has to be like the biggest film of the decade! Let's just bring it on!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Most Anticipated Films of 2018 (13 to 6)



13. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (June 22)

              The predecessor to this film was a bit special for me because it took me back to my childhood. I loved the original Jurassic Park as a kid, and Jurassic World brought me back those feelings and a little bit more - I never imagined seeing a guy riding a bike flanked by raptors. But truth be told, that film delivered not much more than that. And this sequel won't have the benefit of just bringing that feeling back. It will have to deliver well with the story and the characters and stuff. The trailer & synopsis didn't get me too excited either, but the director did some great work recently, so here's hoping for something good.

12. Tomb Raider (March 16)

                I am a big fan of the Tomb Raider video games, especially the reboot series: Tomb Raider (2013) and Rise of the Tomb Raider (2015). Now, whether I'll be excited with this film reboot is a different question. I like the look of it from the trailers, and the cast looks pretty good. But the story seems to be rehashing story points from the video game. It normally would be okay (to an extent), but the fact is a lot of us have just played the games recently and those games have excellent visuals. So, what will this new film bring to the table, then, will be the big question for me.

11. Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2 (November 21)

                The first Wreck-It Ralph was one of the best film of that year, and certainly among the better Disney films that came out recently. It was funny but also very touching & heartful. And the great thing is, this sequel already has the smart vision to expand the universe to involve the Internet with the possibility of adding some form of other Disney characters, including from the other animation flicks (Frozen, Moana, Mulan, etc), but also from their owned properties, Marvel & Star Wars. Exciting, isn't it?

10. Mission: Impossible 6 (July 27)

              I have to say, the latest MI film Rogue Nation wasn't really as good as I had hoped, especially after the brilliant Ghost Protocol. But it was still a solid action film, and the characters were pretty good. So to have most of them returning and with some excellent new cast additions, they have the opportunity to once again create a great MI film (while Tom Cruise is still young...ish). And yes, Tom Cruise is such a national treasure, you can't help but love the guy and hope his next film is great.

9. Ant-Man and the Wasp (July 6)

              The first Ant-Man film was a lot of fun, and it remains a film that I still like to watch. It has cool action, great music & a lot of (creatively) funny moments. And the story has heart, too. But among the MCU pantheon, it does not really rank that high, and could do with a better story. For this sequel, though, with all they key people returning to this project, I have hopes that they could deliver at least another great, fun film, but maybe even more than that.

8. Mortal Engines (December 14)

                I always loved Peter Jackson and his visual ideas, and it has been a while since we last saw a film of his. Of course, he also won't be directing this film, but being a screenwriter and a producer in the project, I am pretty sure he has more than small part to play. And even the concept of this film alone is intriguing, a post-apocalyptic world where cities are mobile and battle each other. It kind of has a Mad Max feel to it, by the sound of it. Because of all that, I am really excited to see what this world will look like when brought to life in the big screen.

7. The Incredibles 2 (June 15)

                 The Incredibles remains, to this day, one of the best Pixar animation film of all time. It is such a shock that a sequel hasn't been done until 14 years later. The good news is, it is now here, and with Brad Bird returning to both write & direct the film, it will be great to finally jump back into the world of The Incredibles, and it sure has all the signs to be another great Pixar film.

6. Solo: A Star Wars Story (May 25)

                 Truth be told, if this was any other potential upcoming Star Wars projects (Episode 9, Obi-Wan spin-off, Rian Johnson's New Trilogy), this would easily crack the Top 3. But a film about Han Solo is the one that I don't personally crave for - especially having just recently seen the great Harrison Ford as Han Solo again just two years back. Though, it remains a Star Wars film and I am always excited to see one. And if anything, what I really want to see is if they really explore and delve into the underworld and the crime/smuggling/bounty hunter life - like really delving into the dark cracks of the Star Wars universe and not just the fantastical worlds in the surface.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Most Anticipated Films of 2018 (20 to 14)

As is tradition, I like to share my most anticipated films of the coming year, but given how much big films there are in my radar, I will have to resort to Top 20 this time...



Honourable Mentions:

A quick shout-out to the films that didn't make my list. In order of release:

- A Wrinkle in Time (March 9) 
- Robin Hood (September 21)
Venom (October 5)
- Jungle Book (October 19)
Bumblebee: The Movie (December 21)


20. Ocean's Eight (June 8)

              A spin-off of the Ocean's Trilogy but with a whole female crew this time. Hell yes! I like the overall idea (though the quality of the execution will be another matter entirely) and you just have to look at the cast to get excited. Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, and one of my favourite actresses of all time, Sandra Bullock - among many. Mind you, this film could very well fail, but it sure looks like a fun idea.

19. The New Mutants (April 13)

              This film should be high in this list...like 'maybe cracking Top 10' high. I like the way Fox is operating with their Marvel properties, playing with many different genres (like the very comedic fourth-wall breaking Deadpool or the western drama Logan) and not pulling any punches with any of them. They're doing the same with this one....but why oh why it has to be horror/thriller. Damn. Don't get me wrong, I am so excited to see how this goes, but whether I'm that excited to step into a dark, loud theatre to watch this is a different question altogether.

18. Soldado (June 29)

               A sequel to the brilliant crime-drama Sicario. Unfortunately, director Denis Villeneuve is not returning, but the fact that writer Taylor Sheridan is back to write the script gives me confidence. His recent work has been brilliant, brilliant & brilliant (Sicario, Hell or High Water, Wind River). One can cautiously hope this next one to be similarly so...

17. The Predator (August 3)

               I am just a little bit unsure of this. I am excited to see a new Predator film, and moreover I am also very excited to see a new Shane Black film. His last film The Nice Guys is extremely good & funny, and is a must watch. But what he is really good at versus what I think a Predator film will be like are two quite different things. I suppose now the question becomes how much of his style/vision will be stamped into this new Predator movie and what the outcome will be.

16. Creed 2 (November 21)

              Creed was one of the best film of that year, and it's the film that got me liking Ryan Coogler as a director. Of course, Ryan Coogler is not returning because he is working on another film that is very high in this list (you'll see). But when you have someone like Sylvester Stallone taking over, with the love & passion he has for this franchise, and with some great people returning, including Dolph Lundgren, this is definitely one film I am very much looking forward to.

15. Deadpool 2 (June 1)


              I really appreciate & like what they did with the first Deadpool film, but I maintain that I still don't find it that great. It's funny (to a certain extent), but the rest of it is still quite standard. The story, the action, etc. So, if I am to really be excited with this sequel, they better kick it up a notch, especially in terms of the quality of storytelling.

14. Ready Player One (March 30)

               A Steven Spielberg big-budget science-fiction blockbuster. Probably should've easily made my Top 10, but the trailer that has been released didn't really get me much excited, unfortunately. I mean, I would never bet against this film in any way, but my anticipation level for this film isn't particularly that high either.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS



              This film is actually not that bad. In many ways, the film was okay. But I didn't really feel quite satisfied walking out of the theatre. It feels like something is missing/lacking....it doesn't feel like it was executed very well. It might be the editing (which was a bit too fast), or it could be the dialogue, too.

              There is nothing in this film that is particularly bad, but then again, there isn't anything that is particularly good, either. The thing that sticks out most before the film was the stellar cast. But none of them actually pulled out a spectacular performance. Josh Gad was perhaps the only one who did pretty well.

              The visuals in the film was pretty good, and I have to say I particularly liked the wide shots of the setting - whether it be a shot of the city when they first set off, or the many shots of the different backdrop that the train traversed along. But one thing I find annoying (which could well be one of the reasons I didn't feel quite satisfied with the film) is the editing. It just cuts from scene to a scene a little too quickly. It didn't give us much time to digest or think about what just happened or what could happen.

               And then there is also the dialogue, which I feel wasn't particularly good. And in the moments when they try to make a joke, it didn't quite land....most of the time. They tried to make the story a little more fun & light, but it didn't really work.

               While the overall story was fine (which I think is more credit to original writer Agatha Christie instead), the execution of the film wasn't very good, especially for a director like Kenneth Branagh. And in the end, it's not that the film is bad. Especially if you have not read the book or know the story (like I do), it ends up being a good watch with an interesting mystery solving. However, I don't really feel the film was that good either, and I don't feel quite that satisfied walking out of the film.

VERDICT: 52 / 100

Sunday, 3 December 2017

COCO



            Disney...Pixar...these folks just don't know how to make less-than-stellar movies, do they? They say Pixar has a blip with their Cars movies, but that is just a testament to how good their other films are. And Coco is another spectacular outing from the studio. It's hard to find a flaw in this film, but more than that, I don't even want to.

               In so many aspects, this film did brilliantly well. At it's core, it is a very touching story with amazing characters. All the characters in the film are quite distinct but feels like real characters we see in our lives. And it is so much fun to see the interactions between these characters, and occasionally, it becomes very emotional & touching moments. A lot of these characters develops and changes throughout this adventure - perhaps because the story is so powerful & meaningful.

             The plot is easily the strongest element of the film, but I won't say too much more, because it needs to be experienced first-hand. Meanwhile, though there isn't particularly too much laughs to be had, but there are some very great humour along the way, even towards the end. And I suppose I don't need to re-emphasize about the dramatic/touching moments of the story. The music is another strong part of the movie. There are quite a few memorable & enjoyable songs that really enhances the emotions of the story. 

              Like I said, it's hard to specify the flaws in the film, probably because I don't really care much when the rest of the film is just so good. Even the voice cast - who are mainly new names I am not quite familiar of - did really solid performances. And finally, I'd like to call out that I also appreciate how they stuck to and explored the Mexican culture. For a lot of us not from that area of the world, it is a very eye-opening knowledge, and it is really nice to see the beautiful things they do and the festivals they have.

               This film really is right up there alongside the best of the Pixar films like Toy Story, Inside Out, and more. I would recommend this film to anyone and everyone, because I think this is a movie that is both eye-opening but also just a damn good story to experience...

VERDICT: 90 / 100 

Friday, 17 November 2017

JUSTICE LEAGUE



             This movie feels much like a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. It is not any one person's vision, and hence, feels inconsistent. Zack Snyder kicked it off, but due to unfortunate circumstances, was unable to complete it. Joss Whedon (who has a rather opposing style & vision) was asked to complete it. And then there is the directive from Warner Bros chiefs to keep it light and to keep it under two hours. The outcome: neither here nor there.

               Among the many flaws in this movie, the biggest among them are the overly simplistic, generic, predictable plot. It is literally like taking the common denominator of all superhero flicks of the past 10 years. And the plot feels so shallow - things just happen too quickly and the characters doesn't seem to change or have any character development at all.

                To make it worse, the main villain in here is so dull & lame. If not for the stupid & weird Enchantress (in Suicide Squad), I can almost say that the villain in Justice League is the worst comic book villain in the past 10 years. Not to mention the CGI that wasn't really done well.
              And speaking of the CGI, the overall visual effects in this movie was rather poor as well. I can still bear with it, but for a movie the size & scale of Justice League, it should have been done better. 

                But moving towards the more positive aspects of the film. It has great characters, in terms of the members of the Justice League. The dynamic between the characters was pretty cool & fun to watch. And despite some misses with the humour, a lot of the jokes does land and I thoroughly enjoyed the banter between the heroes. Such that if these characters were put in a different (better) story, I think this would have been a good movie. Crossing my fingers for Justice League 2...

             Meanwhile, the action is still pretty good & fun to watch. And the score is okay, though it doesn't stand out. In fact, the one part I do like is the song used in the opening credits (Everybody Knows - Sigrid). Though it is not a good testament to the overall movie, but that song in the opening credits was my favourite part of the film. I really like that song.

              Overall, the film is watchable & enjoyable, for me, but it is not of high quality in any way. As much as Batman v Superman wasn't great, at least it was fully Zack Snyder's vision. This one isn't, and that is what disappoints me most.

VERDICT: 60 / 100

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Looking Forward: DECEMBER 2017

Much like last December, and the December before, we have a Star Wars movie, one or two other (quite) big budget films, and some Oscar potentials...

For this list, I will only mention films which gets wide release (in the US) in December, so films like The Post will only get mentioned for January 2018...



The Shape of Water (Dec 8-USA, Feb 16-UK, Jan 18-Singapore)

             I can actually say that this film looks to be among those Oscar potentials as well. But I am interested in this film for more than just the quality of directing, story or performances. The story itself interests me. And I have always liked Guillermo del Toro's ideas/concepts for visual storytelling. And the fact that this film (as of writing) has 97% rating in Rotten Tomatoes and has won the Golden Lion award in the 74th Venice Film Festival, it does look to potentially be GDT's best film other than Pan's Labyrinth, and this is something to be excited about.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA4WD92it0k (Trailer #1)


Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Dec 15-USA, Dec 14-UK, Dec 14-Singapore)

              And of course, this is the one! Most of you would know by now how a big a Star Wars fan I am. This was easily my most anticipated film of the year, and looking at the landscape right now, this is probably my most anticipated film until Star Wars Episode 9 comes out. Not only am I very excited to see Luke Skywalker in action, or the continuation of the stories of Rey, Kylo Ren, and co, but I am also very hopeful that this will be one of the best SW films ever.
              A big reason for that would be director Rian Johnson. And the fact is Rian was the only director in which there have been no word or rumblings of any trouble at all (unlike the Han Solo film or Episode 9). Add to that the fact that this film has been fully completed (with post-production and all) a few months before release. There is just so much confidence and positive vibe surrounding this film. And finally, of course, the trailers for this film is just awesome!

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qsg0fku78o&t=1s (Teaser)
MUST SEE!!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-qnbOVhM_U (Trailer #1)


Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (Dec 20-USA, Dec 20-UK, Dec 21-Singapore)

               I am actually quite doubtful of the quality of this film. But it sure does look like fun, so why not. And I suppose that sums up my thoughts about this film. It looks fun, and I'm probably going to go watch it simply for that, but for sure I am not expecting this to be a high quality film. If I'm wrong, then all the better.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leE10vdvkho (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3f1Tvev010 (Trailer #2)


Other Movies:

            Let's kick it off lightly, before we get to the Oscar potentials. First up is this animation flick - out on December 15 - Ferdinand (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hggl_Ime15I), which I'm really not quite interested in. The synopsis of the plot doesn't interest me, and Blue Sky Studios' recent track record have been poor. So unless this film comes out with stellar reviews, I'm probably going to stay away from it.
              Next up, Pitch Perfect 3 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8GbmkbKTGg) comes out on December 22. I had watched the first film sometime back, but to be perfectly honest, I had never been very interested in these kind of movies, anyway. Also out on Dec 22 is a science-fiction comedy that I am much more interested in, Downsizing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoBLLqlI3tQ), starring Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, and more.

            Now, moving to the likely Oscar potentials. For these kind of films (which I rarely watch), the ones that could get me interested are those in the crime-drama realm (as compared to biographies or the likes), so when a movie like All the Money in the World (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJtqk0qq0uk) comes along, it caught my attention, especially knowing that Ridley Scott is at the helm. But of course the more interesting thing is the fact that Kevin Spacey (for obvious reasons) gets replaced by Christopher Plummer just a month before a release. This film is out on December 22nd.
              Out on December 20th is a film called The Greatest Showman (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gXEF3G0fAc), which usually isn't my kind of film, but the performances and the color and the visuals of the film got me a little bit interested. And finally, I would like to call out a movie titled Phantom Thread (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UtWNdHDWsB0). I am not personally interested, but given that this is likely to be Daniel-Day Lewis' final film, maybe its worth a mention. This film is out on December 25th.