March 2012 | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Review: THE HUNGER GAMES (2012)


With the highly-lucrative HARRY POTTER franchise already ended last summer, and THE TWILIGHT SAGA quadrilogy is nearing its end this coming November, Hollywood is looking for the next big thing in turning another popular young-adult novel into successful movie franchise. That adaptation turns out to be the first novel in Suzanne Collins' best-selling trilogy called THE HUNGER GAMES (the other two are CATCHING FIRE and MOCKINGJAY). Described as a teenage version of THE RUNNING MAN (1987) meets BATTLE ROYALE (2000), THE HUNGER GAMES has been generating a lot of strong buzz even before its initial release. However, I hate to say that this so-called "one of the most anticipated movie events of the year" is hugely overrated.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Review: 21 JUMP STREET (2012)

RATING: 3.5/5

When I first came to know that (yet) another old TV show is dusted off for a big-screen adaptation, I wasn't that excited at all. After all, that show happens to be the once-popular 21 Jump Street which starred then-young Johnny Depp who became a star here before he gradually earned his distinctive reputation in the Hollywood cinema. Back then, the story about an undercover police unit composed of young-looking officers specializing in youth crime is refreshingly new. But now, it's seriously a worn-out cliche. Then there's the casting of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum -- oh, wait -- Channing Tatum does a comedy? I smell an immediate recipe for disaster here, but directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord's (2009's CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS) live-action debut here seriously caught me by surprise . For all those naysayers out there, this big-screen version of 21 JUMP STREET is surprisingly funny and very entertaining as well.

Review: THIS MEANS WAR (2012)


Crude, childish, uninspired, lazy, awful... I can go on and on, because McG's latest action-romantic-comedy THIS MEANS WAR sees him hits a new low since 2003's CHARLIE'S ANGELS: FULL THROTTLE. On paper, THIS MEANS WAR looks gamely potential: it has three charming leads of Chris Pine, Tom Hardy and Reese Witherspoon and a high-concept premise that recalls the work of TRUE LIES (1994) and MR. & MRS. SMITH (2005). Too bad what is presented on screen is completely a garbled mess that neither funny or romantic. Even McG botched big-time the way he orchestrated the action sequences. Well, something is terribly wrong here...

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Review: ONE FOR THE MONEY (2012)


Believe it or not, the big screen adaptation of ONE FOR THE MONEY, which was based on the first novel in Janet Evanovich's best-selling series of novels featuring feisty bounty hunter Stephanie Plum, has been in development for nearly two decades. But despite all the time invested and potential franchise might be in bloom (since Evanovich has went on publishing 18 successful novels and still counting), it's sad to say that ONE FOR THE MONEY is nothing more than a strictly by-the-numbers effort weakened by predictable script and forgettable characters.

Review: NIGHTFALL 大追捕 (2012)

Review: NIGHTFALL 大追捕 (2012)

NIGHTFALL opens intensely with a vicious prison fight involving Eugene Wong (Nick Cheung) being assaulted by a number of other inmates in the shower room but he manages to retaliate by killing them all with his bare hands and a metal drain cover. Then, we later learn he is released after serving 20 years in prison. The first thing he does is spying on Zoe Tsui (Janice Man), a piano student whose father, Han (Michael Wong), is a celebrity opera singer. So he ends up renting a shack directly across from Tsui's' country mansion and uses bugging devices to eavesdrop every conversation as well as a telescope to monitor every movement. He discovers that Han is an abusive father who particularly dislikes Zoe to befriend with any guys at all because he thinks all men out there are monsters. Enter Inspector George Lam (Simon Yam), a burned-out cop who has a murky past involving his suicidal wife. He is called upon an investigation when Han is found murdered in a gruesome manner. With the way Han is killed, he immediately suspects Eugene as the main culprit. However, the case turns out to be more complicated than it seems as Lam digs further into the Tsui family history and discovers there's something fishy going on behind all the murder.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Retrospective: Seeing Red: The Curse Of The Mars

For more than a decade, any sci-fi genres that involves planet Mars are nothing more than a series of cursed box-office and/or critical disasters. With the exception of Paul Verhoeven's highly-successful TOTAL RECALL (1990), the rest of the major Hollywood's like-minded blockbusters didn't stood a chance. Not even the more recent outing of the mega-budget sci-fi epic of JOHN CARTER can break the jinx once and for all. As of now, the movie only grossed a disappointing $9.82 million in the opening day on Friday and looks poised to open the weekend with less than $30 million -- a terrible start for such movie that cost a hefty $250 million to make. It's really hard to believe though, considering all the superb talents involved in the production including one of Pixar's top directors, Andrew Stanton (A BUG'S LIFE, FINDING NEMO, WALL-E). You can read my review on JOHN CARTER here. Anyway, here are the list of the major Hollywood blockbusters that shared the similar fate like JOHN CARTER did.

Review: JOHN CARTER (2012)


A century ago, famed American pulp fiction author Edgar Rice Burroughs penned the Barsoom series. His extensive vision in the series has inspired many sci-fi filmmakers including Flash Gordon series, George Lucas's STAR WARS, James Cameron's AVATAR, and countless others. And now the long-awaited, big-screen adaptation of the Barsoom series is finally arrived. Judging by the outlook of the sci-fi epic titled as JOHN CARTER, this project is simply a can't-miss cinematic experience. It was directed by Andrew Stanton, responsible for some of the most beloved Pixar's animated features ever made including 1998's A BUG'S LIFE, 2003's FINDING NEMO and 2008's WALL-E. As a matter of fact, he also had a hand in the script alongside with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon, who was responsible for the screenplay of 2004's SPIDER-MAN 2. Blessed with a lavish budget of $250 million, it's natural that many will predict JOHN CARTER is set to be one of the most successful sci-fi epics ever made. Unfortunately, what you seen in the screen instead, is all smoke-and-mirrors.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Review: HAYWIRE (2012)


On paper, Steven Soderbergh's first foray into action-movie territory is certainly too good to give this a miss -- HAYWIRE stars former MMA fighter-turned-actress Gina Carano (who was best known in TV's reality show called American Gladiators) and favors clean-cut fight choreography unlike most like-minded movies (read: shaky-cam) shown these days. Unfortunately, what you have read or seen in the promotional materials that have been heavily advertised all this while, isn't exactly the kind of straightforward action-packed extravaganza you would hope for. Instead HAYWIRE is an artistic farce disguised as a B-grade action wannabe and worst of all, it's unbelievably boring.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Review: ACT OF VALOR (2012)


Originally conceived as a short documentary project produced back in 2007 on Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewman before it eventually grew into a cinematic movie, Mike McCoy and Scott Waugh's ACT OF VALOR (making their feature-length debut) is no doubt something to look forward to. Among the highly publicized and greatest hook of this would-be potential blockbuster is none others than casting actual active-duty Navy SEALs as lead roles -- the first of its kind ever seen in Hollywood movie. Unfortunately, this is as far as the effective gimmick can go -- ACT OF VALOR may have been well-intended but the movie is sadly misses its target due to flimsy script and bad acting.