Monday 30 December 2013

Best of 2013 - Science-Fiction (Humans)

This category is unique so perhaps requires a bit of explanation. The category of science-fiction is much too wide, so I had to narrow it down a bit, by separating movies which involve otherworldly elements or aliens or other races, in a separate category.

This post will seek to explore on the movies which is mostly set on Earth and involves mainly on humans, with the involvement of science-fiction elements. No clear and accurate distinction is to be made, but is more based on feeling of similar elements of the films.

-The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
-World War Z

          I hope you don't get too confused with the distinction I try to make, but I believe things will be clearer as you read the next post which will be on the other side of the genre. But as seen in the movies listed on the nominees, it should be relatively clear that this is about films which are mainly on humans or based on human elements and human actions. Other films like this include G.I. Joe: Retaliation, which did not make the cut due to its unintelligent plot, focusing too much on fun and action.
          Elysium is decent in its plot, but is great with the mix of drama and action, along with its loose depiction of some of the world's political and social issues. Catching Fire is a great sequel to an already great film, while keeping us wanting for more even after the end of the film. World War Z is amazing for its balanced mix of action, humour, drama, and even some horror elements. It's accurate portrayal of character reactions is also of positive note.

Winner: The Hunger Games - Catching Fire

          This one is not an obvious one, as I am highly compelled to consider the other two nominees well. However, CF manages to overcome the others due to its excellent cast and strong characters, and a great plot that drives audiences to root and wonder for the characters. It feels like an improvement over its predecessor, which is already a great movie on its own.


Thursday 26 December 2013

Best of 2013 - Action

This post is on the "action" category, and action here simply means action films that can be real and is set on the real world we live in now, with little or no elements of science-fiction and hence is not of a science-fiction category (which will come later on)

-Fast & Furious 6
-Now You See Me
-The Lone Ranger

          Not a lot of action films this year stands out more than others. Some like Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down are, coincidentally and surprisingly, similar. Both didn't manage to make it, although WHD nearly did for its extra dose of fun incorporating a lot of humour in the midst of the gunfights. One film in particular which highly disappoints, is A Good Day to Die Hard, which must be one of the worst action films ever, especially coming from a franchise that should know better.
          Fast & Furious 6 is a great film, which manages to take things to a whole new level, with actions involving flip cars, tanks, and even planes. Now You See Me is brilliant as it doesn't feel like a common action film, instead incorporating the likes of magic & illusion to pull off amazing & cool sequences for some awesome action entertainment. The Lone Ranger is a bit slow paced, but is overall an entertaining experience, especially due to the dynamic of the two main characters.

Winner: Fast & Furious 6

          Again, it feels a bit unanimous for myself. The three great sequences on the flip cars, tank, and plane is already on a whole new level, and would have made it the best of the year. Yet, it is more than that. The movie manages to bring back past characters which strengthens the plot points well, and also connecting the franchise one film to another which is a remarkable feature, and puts this film on a big margin away from the other nominees. 


Tuesday 24 December 2013

Best of 2013 - Animation

With the end of the year close by, it is again the time to look back and find out which films excel more than others, for my version of the "Best of 2013"

The categories here will be distinctions that can be made within the scope of the movies that I watch, which will be revealed as we go, along with some description of the category.

Firstly, animation films. A pretty obvious distinction, and one type of film that I still follow quite closely too, for their unbounded creativity and genuine quality they may bring.

-Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2
-Despicable Me 2

          Animation films this year have seen some of the better ones, along with some that fail to entertain. The likes of Free Birds and Turbo just didn't meet the required expectations for animation movies that aim to be the show for the families, while some other films are just pure fun and joy that bring along the qualities of modern animation.
          For the sake of making it fun, I decided to put in 3 nominations for each category. For this one though, some are just unlucky to not make it, like Monsters University and The Croods. MU possesses an overall decent quality, but unfortunately has annoying characters which lets down the overall experience.
          Cloudy 2 is an overall fun experience, while displaying some excellent visuals, brilliant story, and some emotional ride for the families. Despicable 2, on the other hand, is pure entertainment with all the fun, humour and action, but simply excels at it. Frozen is the film that manages to rekindle the Disney fire, and brings back all good things about Disney, including the songs, comedy, and drama.

Winner: Frozen

          Truthfully, Frozen is pretty much the obvious winner here. Although Cloudy 2 and Despicable 2 is really a fun time for the movies, but Frozen recaptures the Disney quality, and Disney quality means awesome. The mixture of the comedy and drama, as well as the enjoyable songs is the true quality that shines, and puts Frozen in the position as the best animation film of 2013.


Thursday 19 December 2013

Looking Forward: January 2014

The start of the year is relatively quiet, but not without a few that could be a surprise package...

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Jan 17-USA, Jan 24-UK, Jan 16-Singapore)

          At first glance, it seems just like another typical covert agent type movie. But at the absence of other well-known franchise, this one looks to be one to watch in January. It certainly has potential, the character being an adaptation of the Jack Ryan novel series by the late Tom Clancy, although this particular film is the origin story and won't be adapted from a specific novel. And I have always enjoyed these kind of action movies anyway. With a decent cast in the likes of Chris Pine & Kevin Costner, and a seemingly promising story, this might just give us the extra dose of movie needed for at the start of the year.

I, Frankenstein (Jan 24-USA, Jan 29-UK, Jan 23-Singapore)

          A fantasy action film revolving around the famous mythical creature 'Frankenstein'. This looks like another one of those movies that takes a famous myth, but iterates it as something different than what it ought to be. In this case, Frankenstein, though still being an experimented creation, is now embedded with superhuman abilities and fighting skills, and also being involved in a war of mythical creatures. The trailers show some decent fantasy action sequences, with good looking visuals & CGI. But the story didn't look promising as of yet. No idea why the title is as it is, but still, this is probably one to watch in a rather lifeless January.

Other Movies:

The Nut Job (January 17)
-Yet another animation movie with some amazing ensemble voice cast...

Sunday 15 December 2013


A mountain pile of gold, a big terrifying dragon, and more...

          The Desolation of Smaug is filled with fun and action from start to end, and brings lots of great characters in the mix like Tauriel, Bard, Legolas, and most importantly, Smaug. Though the plot is straightforward and predictable, it is still fun to watch, and the visuals are beyond praise.

          Many have stated this, and I will have to agree with them, the movie is an improvement as it packs a whole lot of action from the very beginning to the very end. Furthermore, elves with bow and arrows are a bit more entertaining than dwarves with swords and axes (no offense to the dwarves). And the most entertaining action sequence is indeed the barrels in the river sequence, which sees elves leaping around, arrows flying everywhere, and a massacre of the orcs. 

          The introduction of new characters are great, because they strengthen the plot points and are individually amazing characters themselves. Bard is an excellent addition and seems to be the character that is more than meets the eye. And though the characters of Tauriel and Legolas are cause for some debate, I have to say they are both excitingly brilliant characters. While the love connection between Tauriel and one certain dwarf felt unnecessary (except for, understandably, the cause of dragging more female viewers), it somehow felt a bit disrespectful to Tolkien's vision and doesn't feel coherent anyway. However the character Tauriel itself is great, while Legolas returns with a bang with some of the coolest and funniest scenes, and fans will really enjoy his return.

          The titular dragon Smaug looks amazing and I was stunned by the massiveness and the terrifying feel of just looking at it. Not only it is humongous, but it looks great with the wings and the breath of fire, and...well, you just have to see it yourself. The plot is straightforward and rather predictable, but it is not a big issue as there are more to enjoy than the need of a good plot line. The existence of a cliffhanger is not a problem, as this in turn keeps us anticipated and expecting the third and final film (kind of what Catching Fire did as well).

          The existence of consistent humour is a great addition to the already exciting action sequences, and most is due to Martin Freeman's brilliant acting. On the emotional side, there are less drama than what they have in the first film, so its a bit of a let down. In terms of technicality, the 3D effects are stunning and can really be felt at all times. And the visuals are, as I said before, beyond words and praise. The running time is shorter, but is still a hefty two and a half hours long so is still a wonderful journey.


Good: Fully action packed, Decent humour, Amazing characters, Stupendous titular dragon, Brilliant visuals & 3D effects

Bad: Less emotional exploration

SCORE: 9.0

Tuesday 10 December 2013

SPOILER Discussion - The Hunger Games: Catching Fire



This one is going to be a relatively shorter one, as there is only one obvious twist to talk about, and its in the ending...
It may be more questions than answers, but its the things in my mind I can't let out without spoiling anything...

          The most surprising fact in my mind, is that Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) turns out to be a good guy, in that he plans this whole rebellion thing with Haymitch, and Finnick, too. But as I said in my review, the ending is just so abrupt and fast, that it lacks the clear explanation of what is going on, who are involved, etc. It could be deliberate, but it still gives us the half-frustrating, half-eager feeling.

          So, questions. Aside from those three, wonder who else are involved. Johanna could be in the whole thing, as she said the line, "I did this for you" or some sort during the arena. No idea about Peeta, there are no clear indications of his knowledge, but it could go either way. But most of all, is Gale part of the plan all along? Because he was the one in the very last scene of the film explaining things to Katniss.

          And yet, Plutarch's involvement intrigues me quite a lot. Or perhaps, the overall plan itself. Why would he go through all those things in the games, hurting Katniss and her friends, killing a few (like Mags). Did they really do all this to deceive President Snow? Is their plan that deliberate, and require lots of sacrifice? What about the risks of Katniss falling in battle or anyone else essential in the plan? They could instead just tell Finnick the idea to shut down the system, and make him lead the group there. Intriguing issue here.

          The bigger picture is also interesting here. Was this games literally part of the plan? Perhaps it is, maybe even the rule change here. Perhaps it was in their plan to collect some of the victors, and to take them away discretely to 'District 13' for their next step in the rebellion. It makes sense, because, as of now, President Snow is on the blind, which meant that the games was more of an advantage for them.

          But finally, what is really going on, and what is this plan their doing? This one needs no urgent treatment, as it will be better saved for the sequel. And also, the mention of district 13 is haunting. What is this place? But again, better to be saved for the next. Some cliffhangers like this are better explained in the sequel, to grab the attention of viewers, and keep them eager for more. Its just that the details of what happened in the movie, like who knew about the plan in the arena, etc, should have been explained already. As it stands, (at least for me), the film felt a bit too rushed with the ending, and there are some unsatisfactory feeling combined with the curiosity of what's to come next.

Note: I know these plot points would have been resolved in the books, but I am no book reader, and I don't intend to, as I prefer to see it unveil in the movie itself...

Thursday 5 December 2013

Just Some News - 6 Dec 2013

There are just a few too many interesting news going on recently, well maybe not all news, but interesting updates going on with some films...

Fast & Furious 7 Future?

          The death of Paul Walker (RIP) resulted in the film production of Fast & Furious 7 being stopped to an unknown extent. I had thought that they were filming at the moment, and supposedly nearing its end, so it was a tricky situation depending on how much and which part of Paul Walker's sequences they have shot. But now, apparently, they have decided to halt production, so most likely we won't be seeing it in 2014, and we'll just have to wait for further updates to come from Universal. (All the prayers for Paul Walker and his family).


X-Men: Apocalypse

          Bryan Singer, director of X-Men 1 & 2, and the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past, recently tweeted signalling a potential sequel titled X-Men: Apocalypse to come in 2016. Furthermore, the release date have been tentatively set at May 27 of 2016. This is really big, big news, at least for me, because I love the X-Men franchise so much, and just knowing that it will go beyond Future Past is great news. Plus, while it is only a few years to go, it means most characters may have their roles reprised by current actors. Good thing its in 2016, as 2015 is far too packed as it is. And yet the question that begs, is "Apocalypse" the villain they will be up against??


The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Trailer

          In the link below is the trailer for the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man 2, please check it out if you have not. It is one of the best trailers ever, one that shows a hell lot of action, and not afraid to hide anything. You can clearly see 3 villains there fighting Spidey. And yet, for comic book fans, there looks to be some hidden easter eggs if you can spot them (#SinisterSix). This movie is just one that I highly anticipate for next summer. The first film was, well, amazing. And this one promises much more action, more secrets to be revealed, and with two more sequels confirmed, it just cannot be any more interesting and exciting as it is. Oh, and Electro looks badass and electrifying in this one.