November 2010 | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Monday, 29 November 2010

Review: THE NEXT THREE DAYS (2010)


RATING: 2/5

On the surface, the trailers for director Paul Haggis' THE NEXT THREE DAYS looks like a thrill-a-minute, popcorn flick that offers nail-biting suspense and relentless excitement. But Paul Haggis's third feature here, following from his 2005's Oscar-winning racial drama CRASH and 2007's war drama IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH, is surprisingly a major step down for a highly-acclaimed filmmaker like him. Instead, THE NEXT THREE DAYS is a painfully slow-burning thriller that takes too much time in its melodramatic approach and scores pretty low in term of excitement normally expected for this kind of genre.


Sunday, 28 November 2010

Review: UNSTOPPABLE (2010)


RATING: 2/5

Following from 2009's inferior remake of THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3, Tony Scott and Denzel Washington seems to continue their obsession over train-based action picture and this time the result is UNSTOPPABLE. You must be thinking a title like UNSTOPPABLE sounds like a pure popcorn fun best suited for summer movie release and the fact that the trailer looks comparatively like the 1994's genre-defining SPEED (where both movies shared almost the same identical premise, only with different setting and without a villain). Too bad what could have been a highly-entertaining, thrill-a-minute action movie turns out to be a painfully tedious ride and yet served another disappointment for both Tony Scott and Denzel Washington.


Review: ONG BAK 3 องค์บาก 3 (2010)


RATING: 2/5

After 2008's ONG BAK 2 is ended abruptly with an unexpected cliffhanger finale, ONG BAK 3 immediately picks up where the previous movie left off. The vengeful warrior Tien (Tony Jaa) is now held captive by his nemesis, the evil Lord Rajasena (Saranyu Wonggrajang), and ends up being punished brutally with all manner of tortures. Tien's body and mind is totally worn out, he becomes helpless and is about to face execution but unexpectedly saved by a king's messenger demanding him to be released at once. Tien is brought back to the village of Kana Khone, where Master Bua (Nirut Sirichanya) and childhood love Pim (Primrata Dechudom) tries their very best to recover Tien's mass injury. Tien is subsequently healed and begins to learn how to mediate while deepening his martial art skills via karma energy (in this case, the power of nature) and traditional Thai dance. In the meantime, Lord Rajasena is frequently haunted by vivid nightmares that caused him delusional and apparently he finds himself being cursed. Only the sinister Crow Ghost (Dan Chupong) claims he can break the curse but Lord Rajasena refuses his help and wants him dead instead. It seems that the Crow Ghost attempts to seize control of the kingdom from Lord Rajasena and eagerly awaited the return of Tien to fight against each other.

Review: ONG BAK 2 องค์บาก 2 (2008)


RATING: 3/5

WITH 2003's ONG BAK and 2005's TOM YUM GOONG under his belt, Thai martial art sensation Tony Jaa returns with the long-awaited and much-anticipated ONG BAK 2. Originally billed as Jaa's directorial debut, the film ends up being partially helmed by one of his mentors, veteran stunt coordinator Panna Rittikrai taking over his leftover duties after Jaa walked off the set and disappeared from the production altogether. Whether Jaa is stressed out and whatnot is anybody's guess, but the film manages to be completed and released with great fanfare in its native country. However, despite carrying a title of ONG BAK 2, the film bares no connection whatsoever to Jaa's groundbreaking debut, ONG BAK, but merely appeared as namesake only.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Review: COP OUT (2010)


RATING: 0.5/5

Dim-witted. No, make that beyond dim-witted. That's pretty much sum up for this awfully lame action comedy, COP OUT. It's also the movie where director Kevin Smith made his first major studio release that he didn't write the screenplay for, and he's truly embarrassed himself here. It's like as if he's totally sold off his soul for the sake of big fat paycheck (in which he himself claimed via Twitter that he took an 80-percent pay cut on this), simply made a crap and call it a day.


Thursday, 18 November 2010

Review: SKYLINE (2010)


RATING: 2/5

Judging by the look of its trailer, SKYLINE appears like a big-budget alien-invasion extravaganza. But special-effects artists and brothers Colin and Greg Strause (2007's ALIEN VS. PREDATOR: REQUIEM) manage to self-finance their own movie here made independently for just $10 million. What's more, it's a movie that shot entirely on the new Red cameras with the Mysterium-X chip owned by the brothers themselves and it was almost entirely filmed at co-director Greg Strause's condo building in Marina Del Rey, CA. Frankly speaking, that is quite a remarkable achievement for a low-budget independent production. But it's rather a shame that the movie itself is a major disappointment in most departments.


Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Review: THE LAST AIRBENDER (2010)


RATING: 1/5

Ever since his embarrassing fairy-tale effort of LADY IN THE WATER (2006), writer-director M. Night Shyamalan has never really recovered his career deficit. His next highly-anticipated movie, THE HAPPENING (2008) continues his downfall. And it's sad to say that his latest effort here, this time in the form of THE LAST AIRBENDER, cements his reputation as a box-office poison.


Review: MONSTERS (2010)


RATING: 2.5/5

Consumer-level camcorders (Sony EX3), a tiny budget of an estimated $15,000 and a crew consisting of only two people -- those are pretty much sum up for Gareth Edwards's feature-film debut, MONSTERS. For a genre movie about alien invasion, the movie is unbelievably stunning and as technically accomplished as those big studio productions that cost $100-million-plus.


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Review: DREAM HOME 維多利亞壹號 (2010)

Review: DREAM HOME 維多利亞壹號 (2010)

Told in a non-linear fashion, the movie opens with a disclaimer showing statistics on the cost of buying a home in Hong Kong. It points out that since 1997, Hong Kong income has increased 1% while the cost of housing went up a whopping 15% in 2007 alone. Apartments as tiny as 600 square feet can fetch up to $300,000, and more for those with an ocean view. That is exactly what Sheung (Josie Ho) have been desperately wanting, as she's been saving money very hard to own one unit at the prestigious, high-rise housing estate of No. 1 Victoria Bay. We begin with her killing spree, where her first victim being an unsuspecting security guard (Wong Ching) at the area. Then the movie jumps back and forth at a different time frame, showcasing fragmented look of Sheung's struggling life way back when she's just a kid. During her childhood past, little Sheung (Vivian Leung) used to live in a rundown public housing and watching as the government and property developers take the homes of adjoining neighbours. After she grows up, she vows to buy a unit at No. 1 Victoria Bay as her future home. But the reality is, she can't actually afford to live there. Even his fellow colleagues told her the same thing as well. Sheung's double-shift jobs (telemarketing and retail sales) are all earned with minimum wages. Her lousy affair with a married man, Siu To (Eason Chan) is nothing more meaningful than just a sex companion and he's a heartless being who won't lend her money to help with an operation for her sick father (Norman Tsui). Back at the killing spree, we see Sheung continues to kill more victims at the No. 1 Victoria Bay -- including a pregnant woman (Michelle Ye), her husband (Sinn Lap Man) and a Filipino maid (Dewi Ariyanti) before proceeds to the noisy upstairs neighbors, Cheung Jai (Derek Tsang) and On Jai (Lawrence Chou) as well as two mainland prostitutes (Song Xiao Cheng and Zhou Chu Chu). Obviously, there is something that drives her so mad to commit such bloodbath.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Review: KILLERS (2010)


RATING: 2/5

From the look of the trailer and of course, the promotional poster itself, KILLERS is obviously an attempt to ape the success of action-romantic-comedy genre in the vein of TRUE LIES (1994) and MR. AND MRS. SMITH (2005). The good news is, this movie has its few charming moments with equally likable couples (Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl) and some rousing action sequences. The bad news is, it's hardly as successful as two aforementioned movies and also sad to say that KILLERS is just too lightweight to raise above its mediocrity.


Saturday, 6 November 2010

Review: SAW V (2008)


RATING: 2/5

Believe it or not, despite all the low-point and haphazard entry of SAW IV (2007), which happened to be the weakest series yet, manages to make enough money to warrant not one, but two further installments reportedly to be shot back-to-back! With SAW III (2006) already running out of fume and SAW IV only make things obviously worst, it is inevitable that the never-ending SAW franchise continues to be the "dead-on-arrival" for the fifth installment.


Review: SAW IV (2007)


RATING: 1/5

Okay, so both the notorious killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) and his equally sinister apprentice, Amanda (Shawnee Smith) are dead for good and everything is pretty much wrapped up in last year's SAW III. I mean, really, there's nothing left to tell the story to move the hugely profitable franchise forward but SAW III became a huge hit for the third time in the row and the filmmakers can't resist not to put the series to rest once and for all. That's right, the SAW franchise has now officially becomes the same old horror-movie franchise that won't stop coming into theaters until, at least, the series goes straight to DVD market. And it's a huge pity, because not surprisingly, SAW IV has easily turns out as the worst entry thus far (reportedly the filmmakers wanted to make the fifth and sixth installment back-to-back) and anyone expecting the same grisly torture-porn fun and mind-boggling twists will be sorely disappointed. The creative juice is entirely dry out right here.


Review: SAW III (2006)


RATING: 2.5/5

The first two SAW installment, released back-to-back within a year gap in 2004 and 2005, the filmmakers has finally made a smart move to close the chapter once and for all in SAW III before it started to get stale. Too bad though, that those studio executives in Lions Gate officially announced that a fourth installment will be on the way next year, should this $10 million budget film opens very well in the box-office. I mean, really, how far can one go in the creative process? Unfortunately, SAW III fails to rise above the material previously introduced so well in SAW before improving well in a better sequel. All the gruesome exercise in nihilism and in-your-face gore are intact, and while SAW II director Darren Lynn Bousman has somehow brilliantly transcended the previous two's premise centered mostly on police procedural subplots and a group of survivors stuck in twisted game of survival, in favor for character-driven approach, is a taut move, the film is surprisingly more preachy than it supposed to be.


Monday, 1 November 2010

Review: SAW II (2005)


RATING: 4/5

One would easily figured that in a typical of horror film franchise, once the original works out its ingenious formula very well, all filmmakers need to do is to duplicate the same thing again, making them bigger and gorier that they guaranteed a sequel will cash in easy box-office draw -- but as you know, most of them tends to fall apart. Which is why it's almost led me to believe that SAW II would probably falls to the similar victim. For one thing, the sequel is rushed into production way too fast because the original indie-hit SAW was only released exactly a year ago. But surprisingly, SAW II is a kind of rare sequel that manages to improve upon its successful predecessor and takes the wicked formula into a whole new game of twisted macabre of life-and-death situations.


Review: SAW (2004)


RATING: 4/5

One dirty bathroom, two men, a dead body and a filthy toilet. What an intriguing premise to start off something out of ordinary. For bone-chilling effect, this Halloween weekend doesn't any frightening than watching SAW, an impressive debut for both Australian director James Wan and his fellow screenwriter Leigh Whannell.