May 2011 | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Monday, 30 May 2011


RATING: 2.5/5

Let's get things straight. Comedy sequel, especially those in high-concept comedy sequel, hardly gets better. Either they are more of the same or worst, an inferior entry to the more successful predecessor. Case in point: HOME ALONE 2: LOST IN NEW YORK (1992). Okay, that one is not a R-rated comedy but you'll get the point.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Review: THE HANGOVER (2009)

RATING: 2.5/5

Ever wonder what happened when a bunch of guys didn't realize they had a hardcore bachelor party and ended up not remembering things the next day except for a series of bad hangovers? That interesting question inspires director Todd Phillips and screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore with a high-concept comedy that is outrageously creative -- something you don't really get to see in the R-rated comedy genre these days. No doubt that THE HANGOVER is certainly one-of-the-kind cinematic experience you'll be having a great time.



Earlier this year, when I caught the first of the few trailers of the heavily-promoted PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGERS TIDE, I couldn't help but feeling like a sour aftertaste. That instantly reminded me how I last felt after I watched the ill-fated PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END back in 2007. So here, I'm sorry to say that this long-awaited fourth installment of the lucrative franchise has officially lost most of the creativity and refreshing angles already peaked in the first two movies. Instead, like the third entry, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGERS TIDE is a bloated mess that are both uninspired and soulless piece of entertainment.



Remember the time when THE MATRIX RELOADED (2003) fused with so much creative energy and all those roller-coasting cinematic experience, only to be a polar opposite a few months later in THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS? History is repeating itself in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END, a surprisingly disappointed third and possibly the last installment of the highly successful franchise. Whereas DEAD MAN'S CHEST that screened last summer promised enough rip-roaring adventure of pure entertainment and pulpy, if overstuffed mixture of mythology, AT WORLD'S END takes a 180-degree turn: the fun and enthusiasm previously displayed in the first two PIRATES installments are running out of steam. And though credits should goes to the filmmakers for making this third installment a tad darker for what has come before, the result remains misguided, soulless and worst still, tiresome.


RATING: 3.5/5

The term of "bigger and louder" is what returning producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Gore Verbinski and screenwriters duo Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio clearly aimed to magnify in this first sequel shot back-to-back with PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END, which will due next summer. The good news is, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST is marginally entertaining than the first one with level of creativity peaked in term of dazzling action set-pieces and swashbuckling novelty. The bad news is, the sequel still suffers more of the same long-winded approach of telling an overstuffed story.



The curse of making pirate movies are often no better than being resulting into box-office poison. Remember how Roman Polanski's swashbuckling epic PIRATES (1986) went tumbling down, or of course, who can forget one of the most notorious big-budget (at a cost of hefty $70 million) flop of all-time, CUTTHROAT ISLAND (1995), that also saw Carolco Pictures sinked into bankruptcy?

Thursday, 19 May 2011


RATING: 0.5/5

Yawn.... Another BLOODRAYNE movie, another piece of crap. Okay, director Uwe Boll has offered different timelines in his previous two BLOODRAYNE movies. The first one is set in the Middle Ages, and the second one is in the Old West. Both are potentially interesting settings, but Boll made the polar opposite by turning them into complete disappointment. So now here's the third movie, and this time it takes place during WWII. So any luck for improvement? Sorry, folks... Uwe Boll did it again, and it turns out that BLOODRAYNE: THE THIRD REICH fares even worse than the previous two entries.



Yeah, I know that (everyone) will agree with me that Uwe Boll's big-screen adaptation of BLOODRAYNE (2006) is a far cry for what it supposed to be. Despite the first movie's bucket of blood and gore and Kristanna Loken's generous display of ample bosoms, it's a train wreck at the low point imaginable. You guessed it: lame acting, weak script, tedious direction and badly-choreographed action sequences. BLOODRAYNE came and gone with a huge box-office disappointment and not to mention being trashed being by critics. But whatever the case was, Uwe Boll is simply unstoppable and he clearly doesn't gives a damn of what people said bad things about him. Like it or not, here's BLOODRAYNE 2: DELIVERANCE, in which Boll has originally intended for a trilogy purpose (he is slated to complete the third and last chapter that sets during WWII-era).

Review: BLOODRAYNE (2006)


Being the die-hard of Bloodrayne video game myself, I couldn't be more excited that there's a big-screen version for it. Then something is not right: the movie is directed by what I like to call "the king of video-game-into-movie stinker" Uwe Boll! His first two video game adaptation, HOUSE OF THE DEAD (2003) and ALONE IN THE DARK (2005) are downright laughable, uninspired and so dull that I still don't know how he's still survived in the Hollywood movie industry. But his third attempt is surprisingly better than his first two. Though BLOODRAYNE does shown that Boll has moved up a notch, the result remains ludicrous motion picture that is downright forgettable.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Review: PRIEST (2011)


For a movie that has been constantly changing release dates throughout 2010 and 2011 until the last-minute conversion from 2D to 3D -- it's pretty obvious that the studio have little faith against Scott Stewart's sophomore follow-up, PRIEST. While it's kind of questionable that the studio chose to release a troubled movie like PRIEST in the crowded summer season, the movie is surprisingly not the kind of unholy mess one might predict in the first place. Okay, it's not particularly a good movie by any means but as a guilty pleasure of sorts, PRIEST is a fairly entertaining B-grade trash.



Something obnoxious, something bad, something forgettable, something wasted -- it's just hard to describe something good about this charmless adaptation of Emily Griffin's beach-read bestseller, SOMETHING BORROWED. It's a typical chick-flick genre with all kinds of formulaic romantic comedy cliches you can think of. Mind you, not that being formulaic is a bad thing but it's how the way things are presented. Unfortunately, this movie only fares few and far between as the bulk of the rest is painfully overlong and unpleasant.

Review: PASSION PLAY (2011)

RATING: 0.5/5

The word "scattershot" is best described for screenwriter Mitch Glazer's (2003's THE RECRUIT) long-awaited directorial debut, PASSION PLAY -- a hugely disappointing melodrama that tries hard to be something like Wim Wenders' WINGS OF DESIRE (1987) of sorts but fails miserably on all counts.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Review: A CHINESE GHOST STORY 倩女幽魂 (2011)


Ching Siu-Tung and Tsui Hark's A CHINESE GHOST STORY (1987) was a landmark classic of Hong Kong cinema that successfully mixed different genre of supernatural elements, romance, comedy, horror and over-the-top action all rolled into one slick package. Remaking such classic is certainly an uphill task for any director trying to achieve. But IP MAN 2 (2010) director Wilson Yip dares to take the challenge and frankly, I'm really curious how far he can do to top the original or at least making the remake as good as the original. However, as one of the most highly-anticipated Hong Kong blockbuster movies of the year, A CHINESE GHOST STORY (also known as A CHINESE FAIRY TALE in certain countries) is a huge disappointment that failed to achieve either of them.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Review: HI, FIDELITY 出軌的女人(2011)

With a tantalizing title that reads HI, FIDELITY and a genre movie that explores older women rediscovering their sexuality, it's almost make you think this is the Hong Kong's answer to Sex and the City. On the plus side, the movie also marks the return of Pat Ha and Carrie Ng -- a double treat for die-hard fans, so what's not to like? But thanks to Calvin Poon's unfocused storytelling and haphazard direction, this movie is a complete misfire. More on that later.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Review: A SCENE AT THE SEA あの夏、いちばん静かな海 (1991)

Mention the name of Takeshi Kitano, regular fans of his work will immediately pictured him as the man who is famous for ultra-violent crime genre that characterized in such movies including VIOLENT COP (1989), BOILING POINT (1990) and SONATINE (1993). But his third feature (after VIOLENT COP and BOILING POINT), A SCENE AT THE SEA is surprisingly a radical departure that typifies his work. Instead it's a delicate human drama that features no gangsters and of course no sense of shocking violence whatsoever. Such result might alienated (most) of his die-hard fans but those who are game enough for a change of pace to watch Kitano in different light will be somewhat pleased.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Review: FAST & FURIOUS 5: RIO HEIST (2011)

RATING: 2.5/5

It has been ten years since 2001's THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS made a surprise impact in the box-office and succeeded in launching a popular franchise that spawned three sequels (2003's 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS, 2006's THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT, and 2009's FAST & FURIOUS). And yet, the franchise never calls it a quit. After the open ending in FAST & FURIOUS that suggested there will be more to come, one might wonder just how many times the filmmakers can repeat the same formula over and over again? The answer is: tweak the formula a bit and make it grittier than usual. That's what returning director Justin Lin and screenwriter Chris Morgan has set out to do for FAST & FURIOUS 5: RIO HEIST (known in U.S. as FAST FIVE), a tonally different movie than what you normally expect in the past. Instead of a same old story about illegal street racing, this fifth entry switches gear into a heist movie. The good news is, FAST & FURIOUS 5: RIO HEIST succeed better as the best action movie of all the previous entries. But the bad news is, Justin Lin and Chris Morgan still doesn't learn a thing or two about consistency and subtlety.

Review: INSIDIOUS (2011)


The idea of collaboration between SAW series co-creators James Wan and Leigh Whannell, alongside PARANORMAL ACTIVITY creator Oren Peli, sounds like a dream team. At the first glance, INSIDIOUS looks like a good old-fashioned haunted house spookfest. But wait, the tagline says "It's not the house that is haunted", which means it could be more than just a straightforward horror genre. It could be a macabre cinematic ride, except that the movie fails miserably to meet the expectation. More on that later.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Review: THOR (2011)

RATING: 3.5/5

At the first glance, the name of Kenneth Branagh and Marvel comic-book property sounds like an awkward combination. After all, who can blame (most of) the skeptics thinking that Branagh, who usually associated to Shakespeare-related movies (1989's HENRY V, 1993's MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING, 1996's HAMLET), able to carry out a big-budget summer blockbuster? Marvel's move of hiring Branagh is certainly a huge gamble but they can rest assured that THOR turns out to be surprisingly a very entertaining movie after all.