Tuesday 29 September 2015


"Everest is another beast altogether"

          What a coincidence that this film releases close to another film I recently watched that is also based on a true story. The good news is, this film feels a lot more cinematic & engaging. The bad - it has similar pacing problems and further lacks a plot.

Note: I have just thought of this problem with films based on true stories. Yes, they tend to be good tributes and allow unaware audiences to know of these events that really did happen. Unfortunately, stick too close to reality and the film becomes dull, and deviate too far and people complain about the facts. I prefer the latter because movies are meant to be movies and not documentaries...but people in this world are just too critical. Anyway, this is why I mostly seek for the science-fcition/fantasy films because they take me places I can't go in the real world.

         Okay, back to the review. This film is really engaging and its nice to feel as a part of this team in this grand climbing adventure. The scale is huge, and the visuals are well done, so we are able to really feel how it is to climb Mount Everest. Knowing the challenges and dangers involved, we tend to suspect something bad will happen, so we know the stakes. And these distinct characters are interesting and well-acted, so we get to be quite invested and cared for these characters.

          The film also jumps into the mountain itself quite quickly. I had expected there to be a lot of backstory to begin with, but we arrive at the base of Everest in less than 10 minutes into the film. Unfortunately, for the remaining 100 minutes or so, we are still in that mountain. Its a bit too long for my taste, especially with nothing significant going on apart from seeing the dangers in the mountain, and how the characters deal with them.

          It may sound slightly cruel but it is as if there's no plot in this film. The whole movie is just about them climbing up this mountain and all the struggles and dangers involved. There really isn't anything else going on...its just a detailed adventure to the summit of Everest. But at least, we are following interesting characters. The backstory and persona contributes to these characters and we get to care for them. So, decent characterization, but no plot.

          Apart from that, well, there isn't any action sequences, per se. The visuals are great. I recall almost no humour, however. But the soundtrack is great! The actors are also brilliant. The film basically is a cinematic experience of climbing to the summit of Everest, but its not really a full movie experience.


Friday 25 September 2015


"What's he done?? Everything!"

          I know that this film is based on a true story, but it progresses more like a documentary than a crime film. It feels very slow-paced and has too many conversations. Sometime its okay for a film to be based on a true story and still be more cinematic. But this film seem to be too close to the reality. Johnny Depp as Whitey Bulger is great! He's the one that keeps me interested. I am enjoying seeing him every minute on screen. While he's not, its an entirely different story.

           Johnny Depp really is the best thing about this film. He was great, and his character was undeniably very interesting & charismatic. You really just want to see him just doing stuff to people. In fact, the most interesting and memorable scene to me is just those scenes that you've seen in the trailers - like the one where Bulger remarks about the guy spilling his family secret/recipe. This character is as charismatic as it gets. Put him in an entirely different movie, and I'm looking at a high quality action-crime film.

          The trailers looked cool and the cast was brilliant, but it ended up as a slow-paced near-documentary with relatively uninteresting array of supporting characters. None of the supporting characters are really interesting to watch, especially not when Whitey Bulger is not on screen. Not even the character of the great Benedict Cumberbatch. Its almost like a waste of an array of talents, really. The cast did well, but the characters weren't particularly interesting.

          The plot as a whole feels very basic, its just how he (Bulger) do things that makes some scenes particularly exciting to watch. No notable action sequences, no memorable humour. Quite decent drama, I suppose, if you're following Depp's character well. But its the pace and progress of the plot that really gets me. Its too boring and could have had more cinematic intent, but instead plays out more like a well-acted documentary. Some scenes are just brilliant to see - but there's only one reason for that....and that reason is Johnny Depp's Whitey Bulger. Apart from that, I find paying the price of admission to watch a documentary isn't really worth it.


Tuesday 22 September 2015


"...but you kids won't last one day out in the Scorch"

          I left this film exactly how I felt after watching the first one. The film's action sequences have improved over its predecessor, and also its visuals & suspense. Its even got decent humour, too. But there's something with this film that just couldn't hook me in. Firstly, almost none of the characters are even appealing on their own. Secondly, the plot tries to hide a lot of the reveals...but even then, it never really came.

          As a film, a lot of the experiences improved vastly. The action sequences were better, occasionally coupled with fast-paced suspense on certain scenes. Towards the end, it gets kind of repetitive whereby these main characters are somehow still in the phase of exploration & discovery - but on their own, the action sequences are fun & suspenseful to watch. And the visual effects also improved significantly. I was quite surprised by the scope & scale, and how well done the setting of the Scorch is. Credit to the team for that.

          There's the occasional humour that works, too. Mostly, I find them quite funny & witty as well. But the plot holds too many things back, and the whole film suddenly feels very straightforward and substandard. There's a big twist towards the end - a good twist, but I don't feel too shocked or concerned. Which is why I'm crediting the book for the good twist, but I'm blaming the film for not making me feel it. 

          And much like the first film, a lot of the film has been a straightforward run towards finding the answers, before suddenly ending abruptly by answering little, and leaving the rest to hang. I know people may argue that this is a 3-part saga, but leaving a lot unrevealed and unexplained is just too much to ask after two films. Audiences need to be fed bits and crumbles to keep them invested in the adventure.

          And then most of the characters remain uninteresting. I find only Jorge (played by Giancarlo Esposito) as the most interesting character with some charisma & witty dialogue. Janson (Aidan Gillen) makes for quite a good villain as well. But none of the others are even slightly interesting. Not the main protagonist, not the girl, not his friends, and not even the WCKD boss.

          This is why all this film had is some very interesting moments & scenes, coupled with some decent action sequences with vastly improved visuals, but not a story nor characters that could get me invested and excited to join in on the adventure. Again, the film's not particularly bad, but I'm just not looking forward to the inevitable sequel of this saga.


Sunday 20 September 2015


"And what makes you think that unknown is a miss?"

          A very typical sort of September guilty pleasure - with some cool action sequences that doesn't make sense and a generic plot with uninteresting characters. What you'd expect coming into this film is probably what you'd get. Unless you're being unreasonable or you didn't know what these films are meant to be. It delivers exactly and only what it intended to.

          The only thing fun about this film - is the action sequences. Its not even really good, anyway, but its fun. It was fast-paced and cool, and while most of the time it doesn't make sense, it still remains quite an entertainment to enjoy. And thankfully, the camera angles aren't too bad, either.

           The plot feels very generic & predictable, apart from one plot point that I didn't come to expect early on in the film. But as it progresses, it goes back to being a predictable - repetitive, even - plot that sometimes just isn't believable enough. Add to that the fact that the characters aren't even particularly interesting. None of them. So don't even expect some conversational chemistry. The actors themselves aren't necessarily bad, per se, but the characters are already dull to begin with. And something that is a bit annoying to me, is the dialogue. It tried to be witty but its not. There's nothing smart with the one-liners in this film.

          So, it shouldn't be too surprising that there aren't any real drama, as we can hardly be invested in these characters, anyway. There's some humour in the mix, but really, all you can get from this film is some fun action sequences, and nothing more. Its not unwatchable, but it has nothing new to offer.


Tuesday 15 September 2015

Looking Forward: OCTOBER 2015

Surprisingly, there are several exciting blockbusters to see this October...

The Martian (Oct 2-USA, Sept 30-UK, Oct 1-Singapore)

          A lot of people are saying that this film kind of looks like a prequel/sequel/spin-off to Interstellar...and I feel completely the same! There's Matt Damon, there's Jessica Chastain, there's traveling in space, there's going to another planet...and there's Matt Damon getting stuck and stranded alone in a foreign planet. Tell me that doesn't remind you of Interstellar (assuming you've seen it)! And if there's anyone who can match the name of Christopher Nolan, its probably the director of this film, Ridley Scott. Although Scott's films have been relatively more action-packed than Nolan's. And the case may be that Scott's recent films have been nowhere near stellar, I have always enjoyed his films, and I think this one will be great as well. The first trailer for this film looks pretty cool, although it looks to give quite a lot of the plot away, and it doesn't feel hard to predict the story & the outcome. But with a great ensemble cast, an equally great director, I think this film is going to be a visual treat, at the least.


Pan (Oct 9-USA, Oct 16-UK, Oct 8-Singapore)

           Initially, I have little interest with this film, especially as I've never been a fan of Peter Pan, anyway. But the first trailer immediately changed my mind. Let me tell you quickly, the trailers - both the first & second - are so cool, and they are accompanied by great, exciting music. You have to see them! But that's not all the trailer gave me. The tone & style of the film looks so fun & colourful, and so are the characters. But what really gets me, is the character of James Hook (played Garrett Hedlund). The idea of prequels always appeals to me, and to see Hook begin this story as a friend to Peter (and potentially end as the villain) is always something that snatches my interest - to see how their relationship changes & develops (from good to bad, probably) throughout this film. And Garrett Hedlund looks to have portrayed him well, with a lot of humour & fun, as you can see throughout the trailers. This character Hook is what really gets me excited about Pan.
          The dialogues does sound quite cheesy, and the film probably won't be one of the best film by a long mile...but I am, genuinely, very excited about this film.


Bridge of Spies (Oct 16-USA, Nov 27-UK, Oct 15-Singapore)

          To tell you the truth, I've never even heard of this film until the trailer came out. But guess what, now I'm already interested in this cold war drama thriller. Obviously, this is not my usual kind of film - not my usual action-packed blockbuster. But there's a lot that intrigues me just from the trailers alone. And if I can read the name of the director and the lead actor alone, it should be reason enough to believe that this would be a great film. There's nothing more I could say as I know nothing else apart from what I see in the trailers, but I'm quite looking forward to finally another Tom Hanks & Steven Spielberg collaboration.


The Last Witch Hunter (Oct 23-USA, Oct 23-UK)

          It looks to be that kind of guilty pleasure supernatural action film to me. It lacks star names in terms of director, writer, or even cast, apart from some of the lead roles. Even the trailers don't seem to show much promise in terms of plot. This is exactly the kind of film I expect from the months of September & October - the kind that can give you some fun & action, but probably lacks in quality, plot & drama. Still, I'm giving it a go, and then we'll see how this film really turns out to be.


Other Movies:

Freeheld (October 2)
-A very heartful drama with a unique premise regarding the sensitive issue of homosexuality...

The Walk (October 9)
-A very intriguing looking drama starring some great cast, and by a great director in Robert Zemeckis...

Steve Jobs (October 9)
-Yet another film about Steve Jobs...but this one, to me, looks very interesting...and Michael Fassbender looks great as the man...

Crimson Peak (October 16)
-It looks to be a great film by a great director starring a great cast that should be much anticipated...by fans of horror films...not me, that is...

Wednesday 9 September 2015


"Watson wrote the story...but he changed the ending"

          The film may be slow-paced and actionless, but the drama surrounding the mystery of the case is moving. The characters are well-acted and the plot is littered with intriguing revelations. And yet, there is still humour to be found. A moving and engaging tale about a detective we all know trying to fix the wrongs of the story of his last case.

            As you'd probably expect, there are no action sequences nor thrills with this film. But there's a constant sense of curiousity that keeps audiences engaged. Holmes' last case is shown in flashbacks, as we follow the present 93-year old Holmes trying to recall the details of his last case. And while it may feel frustrating that we need to wait as Holmes tries to recall the next details, the segmentation of the flashbacks are properly laid out...and better yet, each time it ends with quite the cliffhanger - such that we can't wait to find out what happens next.

          The events that happen in the present pales in intrigue as compare to the more interesting flashbacks, but we find ourselves caring for this young boy Roger, who has a fondness for Holmes, and vice versa. The chemistry between the two is brilliant, and it further allows for the conflict at hand with housekeeper Mrs. Munro to be more significant. Despite less interesting events unfolding in the farm, we care so much for Holmes & Roger. And we also find some of the humour in these scenes, as we hear witty conversations take place. 

          Apart from that, the major aspect that keeps us engaged is our eagerness to find out what really happened in the past, as we root for Holmes to recall the story that Watson so wrongly changed. The truth excellently unfolds (very slowly indeed) but is occasionally accompanied by a similar theme or a specific object from the present. And then, what is more beautiful is when we find out the true story, its repercussions, as well as how it changes Holmes in the end. Despite its slow pace and lack of action, it still is a well-crafted, intriguing & moving tale of a familiar character we find ourselves invested in.

SCORE: 6.5 

Saturday 5 September 2015


"Oh, and you have a new codename..."

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. poster.jpg

          This film...is probably the most fun I've had from a film all year! Even after a summer full of blockbusters, this film still stands out as a very fun & unique piece of entertainment. There's a lot of genuinely funny moments, the main characters are distinctly interesting in their own way, there's a lot of chemistry & banter...and most importantly, I have to tip my hats off to the amazingly cool & unique directing style brought by Guy Ritchie.

           Believe me when I say that this film is as funny as it gets. There are a lot of genuinely funny moments, and not the cheesy kind. Some of it is due to the brilliant directing style & focus, but most of them came from the humorous banter between the main characters. Credit to the writers for having such characters, but also to the actors for playing them out perfectly. These are distinctly unique characters brought to life by Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, & Alicia Vikander - and there's almost no boring part in seeing them together on screen...especially the rivalry between Cavill's character & Hammer's.

           With this film, Guy Ritchie brought his own mind & soul into it and it can be seen clearly throughout this film. There's a lot of cinematic edit & effects that makes it fast-paced, and fortunately for him, the tone of this film suits perfectly to the style. And then there's the thing he does - whereby the scene is replayed but with revelations & explanations regarding the outcome. Its hard to explain here, but when you see it on screen...its just genius. Its like a scene that plays out but with missing details, and then the scene proceeds to the outcome, before the scene is then replayed (quickly and with jumps) to showing us the reason why. Its just genius, and again, plays perfectly into the tone & style of this film.

          Yet, there's also enough interesting action sequences to keep me entertained throughout. Maybe a little lacking in drama, but this film was always meant to be FUN. And there are a couple of plot twists that feels great. Unexpected, to me. Even better, is the fact that it wasn't in any way spoiled in the trailers, etc. You probably won't expect it, too. And one final applaud is for the composer, Daniel Pemberton, for making a soundtrack with such style & energy that, not only suits the film, but is also great fun to hear on its own.

          This is probably not the perfect film, but its super fun & entertaining throughout, and has a very distinct & unique style that suits the film perfectly. Films like these are the reason I go to the movies. The main cast are great, the composer did his job well...but this is purely Guy Ritchie's film. This is all him...and it is absolute fun!!!

SCORE: 8.5