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

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Review: THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN PART 1 (2011)


RATING: 2/5

To date, the first three TWILIGHT series has made an astounding $1.8 billion at the worldwide box-office. In the U.S. alone, each installment are consistently growing in term of box-office numbers (2008's TWILIGHT - $192.7 million, 2009's THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON - $296.6 million, and 2010's THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE - $300.5 million). So finally, here we are now -- the final installment of the TWILIGHT series, BREAKING DAWN, which has every die-hard fans around the world anticipating the movie like a Second Coming (okay, maybe that's an overstatement). This time, it's kind of fascinating to see that the studio (Summit) has wisely opted critically-acclaimed director Bill Condon, who made two Oscar-winning movies, GODS AND MONSTERS (1998) and DREAMGIRLS (2008), as well as an Oscar-nominated movie, KINSEY (2004). With the fair exception of Catherine Hardwicke-directed TWILIGHT, the previous two installments (NEW MOON and ECLIPSE) which were separately directed by Chris Weitz and David Slade, were tone-deaf and shockingly dull motion picture. Which is why, Condon's involvement in this lucrative franchise at least raised some hopes in term of its overall movie quality. Unfortunately this movie is (yet) another critical disappointment that should have deserved better, given the reputation of an Oscar-caliber director like Bill Condon.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Review: PUSS IN BOOTS (2011)


RATING: 3/5

Last year, Dreamworks' most lucrative animated series, SHREK has finally milked dry with SHREK FOREVER AFTER. However, the franchise doesn't just stop there. So it's easy to see that the studio decides to feature one of the franchise's most popular characters, which is none others than PUSS IN BOOTS. The result is a charming and entertaining adventure that explores the origins of the swashbuckling feline.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Review: TOWER HEIST (2011)


RATING: 2/5

Here's an interesting trivia about TOWER HEIST: the all-star caper comedy began development as an "African American OCEAN'S ELEVEN" originally titled as TRUMP HEIST. It was as early as 2005 when Eddie Murphy first pitched the concept to producer Brian Grazer and Brett Ratner, which will starred an all-black cast of comedians including Chris Tucker, Kevin Hart, Dave Chapelle, Tracy Morgan and Martin Lawrence. The story would be about a group of disgruntled employees who plan to rob Donald Trump and Trump Tower.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Review: IMMORTALS (2011)


RATING: 1.5/5

Throughout a short but illustrious career, India-born director Tarsem Singh had only made two feature movies. One was the mind-bending thriller THE CELL (2000), and another one was the little-seen THE FALL (2006). His third feature, IMMORTALS, is certainly his most ambitious directing effort to date. Dubbed by the director himself as CARAVAGGIO (1986) meets FIGHT CLUB (1999), IMMORTALS does looks like a promising effort which mixes Greek mythology and Renaissance art shot in a hyper-stylized, 300-style. Well, at least on the outlook of how the promotional trailers have been aggressively advertised all this while. However, despite all the fantastical elements, Tarsem Singh's sword-and-sandals action extravaganza is hardly the action-packed vibe one might come expect for this kind of genre. Instead it's a disappointingly gloomy picture (both figuratively and literally) that is too heavy-handed and awfully slow-moving.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Review: THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN (2011)


RATING: 3/5

History of making Herge's much-beloved comic strip, THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN has certainly comes a long way since the big-screen adaptation was first proposed way back in 1983. Back then, when Steven Spielberg bought the rights, he was originally intended to make a live-action version. He did turn over to Peter Jackson's Weta Digital for special effects. But being a huge Tintin fan himself, Jackson had instead convinced Spielberg to turn the movie fully animated since live-action version would fail to capture the essence of the elaborate world created by Herge. However, special effects technology wasn't that advanced to fulfill the complicated scope of the movie needed to be accomplished. So it wasn't surprising that the movie took a painstaking 28 years long to get it made. But the long wait was certainly worth all the time and effort because as a childhood Tintin fan myself, I'm happy to announce that Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson has fulfilled THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN into one of the most visually-spectacular animated motion pictures ever made in the history of Hollywood cinema. Not only that, Spielberg and Jackson has finally does a few notches better for its heavily-criticized motion capture animation into near perfection since Robert Zemeckis first pioneered the trend. It's certainly an effective crowd pleaser that harkens back the good old-fashioned action adventure Spielberg used to make during his heydays, except that THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN isn't as great as one might expect especially coming from two of Hollywood's most top-notch filmmakers of our time (Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson). Let's just say it isn't up to the par of, say, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK kind of level. Good though, but not great.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Review: IN TIME (2011)


RATING: 2/5

Over the span of two decades, New Zealand-born filmmaker Andrew Niccol had only made three movies (1997's GATTACA, 2002's S1m0ne, and 2005's LORD OF WAR) in his directing career, and also responsible of writing the screenplay for THE TRUMAN SHOW (1998). Still his short span of work are nothing short of technical brilliance and often inspired with fascinating ideas. No doubt Niccol is one of the most gifted visionary directors of our time. Six years after his long hiatus since LORD OF WAR, it's finally good to see him return to sci-fi genre once again. The result is IN TIME, a fascinating genre-bending thriller that blessed with a brilliant setup: A future where the wealthy ones live forever and the working-class ordinary citizens are struggle to survive within day by day in a ghetto "time zone". Instead of money, time becomes the currency as human being are only given 25 years of lifespan. Once that age have reached, they will be "shut" down like a machine.

Review: LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE 奪命金 (2011)

Review: LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE 奪命金 (2011)

LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE begins with Inspector Cheung (Richie Jen) working on a murder case in a rundown housing block. It doesn't take long before he gets a call from his wife Connie (Myolie Wu) to view an apartment she's desperate to buy as an investment. However, Cheung isn't quite ready to fork out a large sum of money to buy such an apartment yet. Connie is disappointed, but she isn't given up just yet. So she goes to a bank where a bank officer named Teresa (Denise Ho) is handling the case, and discovers that the service fees, as well as the interest rates on her mortgage, is amazingly beyond her financial reach. Not even the combination of her husband's civil service discount can help her cause that much. In the meantime, Teresa suffers a serious problem of her own. Apparently, she is currently at the bottom of her sales team and struggling to find anyone to invest in the bank's high-risk fund. If she doesn't do anything to make the sales, she might be losing her job in no time. Then along came a client named Yuen (Lo Hoi-Pang), a loan shark who drops by to withdraw HK$10 million to lend to triad Panther (Lau Ching-Wan) and his associate Lung (Philip Keung), who has just lost a fortune of his big client's (Terence Yin) money on the stock market. But for some reasons, Yuen ends up leaving half the withdrawal behind in Teresa's office and leaves the bank. Teresa realises he has forgotten his handphone and leaves her desk to look for her client. She ends up in the parking garage, where she is surprised to find out that Yuen has been killed by someone. The money he had taken out earlier goes missing. As she is aware of Yuen's death, she realises there's another HK$5 million he had left in her office. On the other side of the story, Panther, a loyal triad member who works for his stingy boss (Tam Ping-Man) is desperately trying to collect a large sum of money from various people to bail out Brother Wah (Cheung Siu-Fai), who is arrested for multiple counts. That is where he ends up meeting Lung, who is subsequently turning over to Panther for financial help.