Saturday 26 December 2015

Looking Forward: JANUARY 2016

None of those big budget blockbusters, yet, but still quite a lot of films to look out for...

The Hateful Eight (Jan 1-USA, Jan 8-UK, Jan 21-Singapore)

            If I were any other film reviewer, all I'd need to do is mention the director's name. But I am not them. In fact, the only Quentin Tarantino film I've ever seen is Inglourious Basterds - which is a good film with many memorable moments, but a bit too peculiar and slow-paced for my taste. I know Pulp Fiction is good, but its a bit too far for my time. And honestly, I've been meaning to check out Django Unchained, though...soon, perhaps.
            In any case, I get the idea of how QT has his own unique vision and take on films. All those Academy Awards nominations & wins speaks for it as well. But as I said before, they're just a bit peculiar and slow-paced for my taste. As such, even personally, I have yet to decide in seeing this in the theatres.

Trailers: (Teaser Trailer) (Trailer #1)

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (Jan 15-USA, Jan 29-UK, Feb 18-Singapore)

            I suppose, in contrast to the film above, the director of this film, Michael Bay, has been criticized time and again for his recent Transformers films. While they make a lot of money, they didn't get a lot of love, especially from critics. I could understand all the hate, but I am one of the few people who appreciate some of the cool aspects of the film.
             And now, looking at the trailers of this film, it certainly looks like a film right down his alley - with tons of action & explosions. Judging by the kind of film this looks to be (and his Transformers films), I would not even expect this to be a very good film. But I do expect this film to be quite entertaining & action-packed, i.e. a watchable film.

Trailers: (Trailer #1) (Trailer #2)

The 5th Wave (Jan 22-USA, Jan 22-UK, Jan 14-Singapore)

            It's not only the superhero films that keeps on coming...the Young Adult Science-Fiction Novel Adaptations keeps on coming, too. There has been hits and misses with this particular genre, and the same doubt hovers around this film, for me. The theme of this film certainly looks cool, and it looks promising, based on the trailers. But if they don't pull this off well, then it could yet be another miss for the YA Sci-Fi Novel Adaptation. If they focus too much on the romance thing, specifically...I'm out. So, actually, this film will decide whether or not I'm going to be invested with the saga, and more importantly, whether the critics and audiences will like it such that the sequels can be made.

Trailers: (Trailer #1)

The Finest Hours (29 Jan-USA, 19 Feb-UK, 18 Feb-Singapore)

            I have recently seen a film about a disaster at sea. But this one looks to be much more on the suspense & thrill. I'm not particularly fond of disaster films where things just go from bad to worse. It's a bit depressing. But if they are done well, then they're worth the watch. And I'll be looking out for this film because it has the potential to be a good one.

Trailers: (Trailer #1) (Trailer #2)

Kung Fu Panda 3 (Jan 29-USA)

            The first two films of this franchise took me by surprise because they were awesome. I'd never thought animated film could pull off brilliant action sequences until I see the Kung Fu Panda films. But somehow, I'm not too excited with this next one. It feels like as if the series doesn't have a lot more to offer. I'm still excited enough and I'm definitely going to see it, but I'm not as excited as I would have, because it seems like the series doesn't have a lot of new things to show for.

Trailers: (Teaser Trailer) (Trailer #1)

Other Movies:

The Revenant (January 8)
-A western survival thriller with a really dark and gritty tone...

Ride Along 2 (January 15)
- A sequel to the hit comedy, Ride Along...

Jane Got a Gun (January 29)
-The third western film for the month, and has a similarly great cast...

Monday 21 December 2015


"It's true...all of it"

          A few days before watching this film, it came to my realization that this film will be the first Star Wars film that I will watch in the movie theater. I was 12 when Revenge of the Sith came out. Not long after, I began watching all six films, and then playing the video games, and soon enough developed this love for Star Wars. And now, to be watching this film in IMAX...was a majestic experience. I've seen many SW opening crawls before, but never feeling it like this. I was living the dream for about 2 hours in there, and by the end, I was emotionally exhausted.

           It really is a majestic Star Wars experience. The visuals are brilliant. And I'm not just talking about the beautiful settings (which mostly is of the real world) or the creatures and spaceships (which mostly are practically built) that made the experience so real. But JJ Abrams is such a brilliant director with awesome variety of tracking shots, wide angles, and the like, that made the world feel so real and the experience so immersive.

           And yes, obviously Star Wars is not Star Wars without some excellent action sequences. It doesn't take Master Yoda's wisdom to figure out that there'd be a lightsaber battle somewhere - and it was great! But its not all about the coreography. In fact, its more of the power of the moment and where we find these characters that makes this lightsaber battle great. But my favourite action sequence has to be the aerial battle between the Resistance X-Wing Fighters and the First Order TIE Fighters. The aerial sequences in this film are seriously beautiful.

           Now, the characters. Some of the characters are underused or underwhelming, but I have no qualms about them. The characters that matter...were great! And brilliantly acted, too. Daisy Ridley's Rey is such a cool character, and you just can't help but love her. I've always fancied the dark side, and Kylo Ren made me love them even more. Meanwhile, Harrison Ford's Han Solo, to me, stands out yet again. He still has that charisma, that small talk persona that made us all love this scruffy-looking smuggler in the first place, but also has that wisdom and experience that sees him a different person than where we left him.

            The not only is it difficult for me to cover this ground, but its also the only aspect of the film in which I have slight qualms about....just the slightest. Generally, the plot works and feels natural. But know this - some of the minor details slightly disappoints me. But it still doesn't take away a lot from the film. Where there is humour & fun, I enjoyed them. Where there is drama, I felt them. It is a complete plot that works, with only some minor details that I may have overexpected. (To be explained in the Spoiler Discussion).

           And one last thing that I cannot leave out - the soundtrack (by the legendary John Williams) is gorgeous!! I loved it...and after hearing it again and again, I loved it even more. If you can get your hands on it, listen to the tracks: "Rey's Theme" and "The Jedi Steps" - they are the most un-Star Wars-y of musics, but they sound so gorgeous!!

          The Force Awakens is not terribly groundbreaking or perfect, but it brings out the best in Star Wars. As a film, it is a complete experience filled with adventures, action, splendid visuals, great drama & humour. For 2 hours and 10 minutes there, I was living the dream!


Tuesday 15 December 2015

SPECIAL: Top 10 Most Anticipated of 2016 - Part 3

Top 3 below...

A quick shout-out to Alice Through the Looking Glass & Independence Day: Resurgence for almost making the Top 10...

Now, TOP 3:

3. Star Trek Beyond (July 22)

the film's logo

In case you're wondering, yes, I moved the film that was supposed to be third into fourth...check the previous post to see my thoughts on that film...

            (Now, why did I move this film up to third? Well, I just saw the trailer for Star Trek Beyond...but its not because the trailer is cool or whatever, no...those kind of excitement don't last long. What the trailer reminded me of what made the Star Trek stories so powerful, i.e. the friendship & relationship between the very distinct characters - the reckless James Kirk, the uptight Spock, the ever-complaining Bones, the light-hearted Scotty, etc. The interactions, and henceforth, the development of the relationship of these distinct characters (especially between Kirk & Spock) is amazing & emotional, and it really has been the core of the Star Trek stories wherever they go and whatever they do.)

          Star Trek Into Darkness was one of the best films in recent years, and it was my best film of 2013. So, I was rather disappointed when I found out that JJ Abrams will not be doing Star Trek 3. Not only did he not get to complete a trilogy (after the brilliant Star Trek and the equally spectacular Into Darkness), but also he didn't get to do the film that is to be their 50th anniversary. Instead, he jumped into an entirely new galaxy with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Of course, after seeing all the amazing hype & buzz of The Force Awakens, and being a SW fan myself...I'm glad he jumped ship.
           With Star Trek Beyond, it gets even worse to know that writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (who penned both Trek and Into Darkness) also left the project. I mean, seriously, isn't anyone taking this 50th anniversary seriously? But it has to happen anyway, so they scraped what they can and had Simon Pegg to write the script. And then they found a great director in Justin Lin (who did the awesome Furious 6 - the best in the Furious saga for me), and I think they may have just enough to pull off a great film for their monumental landmark. There are still doubts and concerns within this film for me, but I think they should be able to pull off another exciting film.

2. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25)

          The title alone should be reason enough as to why this would be one film not to be missed. Batman & Superman - perhaps two of the most iconic superheroes in the world - set to go head-to-head and share the same screen for the first time in a live-action film. And no matter what others say - for me, Man of Steel was amazing and the best superhero flick of 2013. If there's anyone that can pull off a spectacle as big as Batman taking on Superman, it is Zack Snyder. And all the trailers so far (especially the Comic Con one) have been really amazing. Many have qualms about the latest trailer, understandably...but it doesn't take away the excitement.
          There has been a lot of casting concerns from fans, and I admit that I am one of them. Though I am growing in to accept Affleck as Batman, the same could not be said for Wonder Woman and more so, Lex Luthor. I realize I probably shouldn't judge before I see them in the film, but I just have to say this now - I don't see Jesse Eisenberg's character as Lex. He may be a great character, for all we know, but to me, he is not Lex Luthor.
          Apart from that, the film looks to be awesome. The trailers have been showing some very epic action sequences and film looks to open the gate wide for the DC Extended Universe to find their way into the hearts of fans and mass audiences alike.

1. Captain America: Civil War (May 6)

          If you wonder why this superhero clash tops my list...the answer is in the final line of the first trailer for Civil War. The moment when Tony Stark said "So was I...".
          This is something that Batman v Superman doesn't have. A brother vs brother fight always has more depth than a vigilante fighting off an alien. The relationship that Captain America and Iron Man has developed after fighting side-by-side for so long - now looks to reach new depths. And it looks to split The Avengers (and some other heroes) into two opposing sides.
           The title shouldn't even be Captain America when the cast is larger than previous Avengers films, but I suppose the heart of the story will remain with Cap. This ensemble becomes the biggest group of superheroes ever seen in a Marvel Cinematic Universe film, and Phase 3 just cannot start any bigger than this.
          And I'm not just talking about the sheer size of the cast, but the story itself is inspired on one of the most popular events that came out not more than a decade ago. While fans may know the plot, character allegiances, and even the outcome in the comics, I expect to see deviations and changes to suit the events that had come before in the MCU. I feel that even the fans are still to be surprised with what is to come.
          With a stellar cast unlike any other, trusted directors (the Russo brothers) and the marvelous Kevin Feige at the head of this project, Marvel is set to begin Phase 3 with more than a bang! 

Other Movies:
-Kung Fu Panda 3
-Gods of Egypt
-London Has Fallen
-The Divergent Series: Allegiant
-The Jungle Book
-The Huntsman: Winter's War
-Alice Through the Looking Glass
-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
-Now You See Me 2
-Finding Dory
-Independence Day: Resurgence
-The Legend of Tarzan
-Ice Age: Collision Course
-Suicide Squad
-Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

Saturday 12 December 2015

SPECIAL: Top 10 Most Anticipated of 2016 - Part 2

Part 2...

7. Doctor Strange (November 4)

          The next Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) superhero to be introduced in his own full film is the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Stephen Strange - my favourite hero in the MCU, yet. With powers relating to mystics and magics, the introduction of Strange will probably also open up a vast array of other dimensions to the MCU. And perhaps, still regarding to his powers, the one thing I'm looking most forward to in this film - is the action sequences, and how the battle of magics & mystics will be portrayed in this film. Let's hope the visual effects team can get it right. Because if they do, it may come out with one of the coolest action sequences in the MCU so far.
          The director and the writer is unfamiliar to me, but Marvel does have that knack on recruiting less well known individuals - but I trust their judgment. Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular hero is just a dream come true, for me. And with other exciting casts like Tilda Swinton and Chiweter Ejiofor, I'm expecting yet another brilliant entry in the MCU.

6. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (November 18)

          The magical universe of Harry Potter and Hogwarts returns to the big screen. Only, this is way before the time of Harry Potter, and it is set in New York, across the pond from Hogwarts & London. So, while the Harry Potter saga has ended in the films, the vastness of the world allows for such spin-off stories to be told. Of course, with the success of the main saga, this spin-off sounds like a good proposition. JK Rowling wrote the screenplay herself - for the whole trilogy, it will seem. Director David Yates returns to direct, and Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne will take on the lead role. He does have that look of a wizard, doesn't he? The only thing I'm wondering is what will the story be about. But it looks to be an exciting adventure, and I'm intrigued to see how this film will expand the Harry Potter universe that we know.

5. X-Men: Apocalypse (May 27)

          The next superhero flick on the list. A few months ago, this would have been higher on the list. But since then, the film have come under some scrutiny, especially regarding the looks of some of the characters. And then there's me - hard to be convinced when most of the cast are relatively new and unknown.
          But I was just pointing out my concerns and not trying be miserable or anything. Director Bryan Singer is perhaps my biggest hope with this film. He gets all his X-Men films right, where others don't. And the main cast - some superstars J-Law, McAvoy, Fassbender, Hoult and even Oscar Isaac - is an ensemble you'd pay to see on film.
           But it still looks to be a very great film, and if anything, the battle sequences should be bigger and better than any X-Men film before. Some minor bits and aspects concerns me, but the film has all the potential to prove me wrong.


4. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December 16)

          While The Force Awakens isn't even out yet, the buzz and anticipation surrounding it is so overwhelmingly positive. All the signs are looking very good indeed for the film to kick start a whole new era of the Star Wars universe in films. Personally, right now, there is nothing I anticipate more than The Force Awakens. It is already breaking records and it may yet break more and be one of the biggest films ever!
          So the film that follows it - the spin-off story Rogue One - will have the most difficult of tasks to keep up the momentum. In this film, we follow this Rogue Squadron in a desperate attempt to steal the Death Star plans. A very familiar setting, but the take is from a very unique angle. And the characters we follow is an interesting group, too - a wayward band of fighters. Director Gareth Edwards have proven himself with Godzilla, so I have no qualms there. The cast looks exciting, and Felicity Jones' character looks particularly badass, too. I'm so excited to see this brand new take of a different kind of film in the Star Wars universe.

(For those of you who have read, you may realize the film at number 4 was initially Star Trek Beyond...for the reason why I moved it up over Rogue One is found at the next post)


Note: I have this feeling that one or the other will budge (move their release date) with both X-Men: Apocalypse and Alice Through the Looking Glass set to release on May 27...

Anyway...Top 3 to come in the last post!

Thursday 10 December 2015

SPECIAL: Top 10 Most Anticipated of 2016 - Part 1

Another year, another bunch of big, fun blockbusters to look forward to...and let me tell you something about 2016 - it feels like the year for comic book films!! And yet there's still many other exciting films as well...

Note: I've considered putting in Top 15 or even 20 for this list due to the number of films I'm interested in...but I felt it might be overkill, and those films from 11-20 are those I would definitely watch, but ultimately, NOT the ones I'm super excited about. So I'm going to keep it at ten...

As usual, release dates are subject to change in the future...

Assassin's Creed film logo.jpg

10. Assassin's Creed (December 21)

          While I'm not the biggest fan of this video game series, I am quite familiar with the franchise, despite only ever completing one of the games - Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag. But in that game alone, I see all the potential it has to be adapted into a film. Black Flag itself has a thrilling plot and a very likeable main character. I wouldn't mind seeing it directly adapted into film as it is. But this film is going to be an entirely new story - separate from any of the games, it seems.
          A probable key aspect to its success would be its style & action. There are several iconic moves and kill strikes that should be a joy to behold in the big screen. If they can bring this kind of style & action to life - with a great plot and equally great characters, it could well be the rare success of a video game adaptation.

9. Bourne 5 (July 29)

          Let us welcome the return of both Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass to this iconic action franchise! The Bourne Supremacy & The Bourne Ultimatum was the best in the series so far, providing thrills & action with a strong performance from the actors. It's also a rare feat with those two films such that they defy the norm where sequels tend to be less superior than their predecessors. The latest instalment, The Bourne Legacy, was nowhere near exciting nor thrilling as Ultimatum was. So, to see Damon & Greengrass back in this franchise is a welcome one - for both fans and (maybe) newcomers to the series.

8. Inferno (October 14)

          And now, the return of both Tom Hanks and Ron Howard to the Robert Langdon stories, this time, adapting the book: Inferno. For reasons unbeknownst to me, they skipped the third book's adaptation - The Lost Symbol. But I never read the books anyway, so for me, its always nice to see another chapter after The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. While both received less than stellar reviews and brings about clouds of controversies with the depiction of some religious themes & concepts, I enjoyed them as a mystery thriller that seriously thrilled me with fear & suspense alike. Recalling back those feelings, I'm quite looking forward to Inferno this time around.

More to come in Parts 2 & 3...

Saturday 5 December 2015


"As I live and breath...he's mine"

          Certainly not Ron Howard's finest film, but still a good one, nonetheless. I find the first half superbly entertaining...with some excellent build-up, great introduction to characters & some cool action in the sea. In the second half, the pace slowed down and the tone gets dark & depressing - which is still okay, because that was the intended tone. The problem is that the plot lacks depth & meaning, and things seem to just happen without reason or meaning, towards the end.

           There are some very good aspects with this film. To me, most notably, is the characterization. From the get go, you can feel the strain and conflict between Chris Hemsworth's Owen Chase and the Captain of the ship, George Pollard. This relationship develops throughout the film quite naturally, and it was great. There are some other very distinct characters, too, and it was easy to know who to like, who to root for. It was great for us, and for the film, too.

          There are cool action sequences in the first half of the film, accompanied by an excellent soundtrack - I thoroughly enjoyed them. Although not standing out, there is the occasional humour as well. The second half took a dark & depressing tone after the catastrophe, but it should have been okay. The tone is how it should be, but what comes after mostly happens without reason or meaning. Essentially, there is no depth in the plot.

            This is what's so different with Ron Howard's previous film, Rush. Rush was an extremely good film, in case you never caught me saying that in my review two years ago. One of the reason is because in the core of the plot, is the rivalry between two men, and how far their commitment & their passion is to the sport. Both men have distinct personality, but equally strong passion to their cause, and it became the recurring theme from start to end. That's why its great to see the plot develop for these two, and by the end, there is a strong meaning that audiences take home.

            The same could not be said for In the Heart of the Sea. In this film, the things that happen towards the end seemed like something that would normally happen, but there is no meaning for audiences. It just...happens. I would have thought that there would be one moment of realization or revelation, which would then end the plot with a meaningful change. Unfortunately, that's the problem with this film. Owen Chase is the same guy at the start of the film and at the end of the film. The encounter with the whale and all doesn't seem to change these characters prominently. From this, I hope it is implied to you that the ending is, in essence, unsatisfactory.

           The film is still good, with a spectacular first half followed by a watchable second. There are some cool action, and more importantly, great characters. But, the plot has no meaning. The things that happen has particularly no meaning and doesn't change the characters in a significant way. The ending is unsatisfactory. But overall, it's an okay film to watch.