Sunday, 30 September 2012
Prior to the theatrical release of LOOPER, the movie has already gained favorable reviews among (many) critics when it first screened in various film festivals. In fact, it is so overwhelmingly positive that some critics has even praised the movie as "the best sci-fi movie in years". The good news is, LOOPER does delivers its praise -- writer-director Rian Johnson is bold enough to toy with the familiar time-travel concept inside out and making them fresh, exciting, original and unpredictable. But the bad news is, most of the high concepts here are sadly half-baked ideas that failed to accomplish as a satisfying whole. More on that later.
Sunday, 23 September 2012
Talky movies are always hard to pull off, especially those which deals with complex or dense subject matter. To make them interesting, it's always important to engage the viewers with captivating performance(s) and strong dialogues. This is no doubt a difficult test for director David Cronenberg. He's hardly known as a director who relies heavily on dialogue to tell his story. Actually he did attempt such approach before in last year's A DANGEROUS METHOD, but he failed miserably with his static direction. This time, he hits an all-time low in COSMOPOLIS -- a lifeless and painfully boring motion picture that even a die-hard arthouse fans might find this a monumental waste of time.
Mention the word "Dredd" or "Judge Dredd", that Stallone's embarrassingly awful movie instantly comes to mind. For decades (17 years, to be exact), no other studios has dared to resurrect the franchise ever since until a new development has finally seen the light of its day when it was first announced on 20 December 2008 as an independent movie project. At the first glance, I was skeptical for the new "Judge Dredd" movie, titled as DREDD, when the studio (DNA Films) hired director Pete Travis (2009's VANTAGE POINT) to helm the project. After all, Pete Travis isn't the kind of name that immediately springs to mind for to take over such a beloved comic-book character. But thankfully, Travis and screenwriter Alex Garland has (mostly) succeeded what Stallone has failed back in 1995 -- they get the somber brutality tone right. Just like the comic book itself, DREDD is undeniably gritty and ultra-violent sci-fi actioner that will surely please a lot of fanboys and like-minded audiences who prefers their R-rated genre movie.
Saturday, 22 September 2012
With DREDD (review coming soon!) currently showing in theaters everywhere, I would like to revisit the first JUDGE DREDD movie that hits the theaters back in 1995. That was like 17 years ago, and that awfully embarrassing big-screen effort still lingered in my mind after such a long period of time.
Friday, 21 September 2012
This is the re-post of my review for UNSTOPPABLE dated on November 28, 2010. It is also sadly his unexpected final movie before Tony Scott took his own life two years later. I was personally expecting him making a great comeback when he announced he's up for the long-awaited TOP GUN 2 with Tom Cruise. After all, TOP GUN was the genre-defining movie that launched Scott's directing career. With two of his upcoming feature-movie projects, EMMA'S WAR and TOP GUN 2 hanging in limbo, I hope someone else will carry on his legacy.
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.
Thursday, 20 September 2012
By now, you should have heard the worldwide sensation of THE RAID: REDEMPTION (known in Indonesia as SERBUAN MAUT). Ever since the movie made its successful round in last year's Toronto Film Festival, it has been flooded with overwhelming praise after praise -- until some of the critics even hailed THE RAID: REDEMPTION as "one of the best action movies in years". The movie proves to be so popular that a Hollywood remake is well on its way soon. Now here lies the question: Is THE RAID: REDEMPTION really that praiseworthy? Well, let's just say the movie is a little overrated. Pitch-perfect action movie this is not, but certainly a notch above than most action movies shown in the theaters nowadays.
On paper, BAIT has an outlandish premise that sounds like a trashy B-movie fun: Two great white sharks prowling the tsunami-drowned Australian supermarket with a few survivors trapped inside. By right, the movie supposed to be a lot of fun and exciting. Imagine all the bloody mayhem and claustrophobic suspense this movie could have done. However, director Kimble Rendall made a grave mistake by taking this an otherwise tongue-in-cheek genre movie too seriously for its own good. Nevertheless, BAIT is sadly more of a waterlogged thriller.
Monday, 17 September 2012
Set in 1920/30s Shanghai, THE BULLET VANISHES opens with a suspicious death of a young female worker named Yan (Xuxu) of an ammunition factory, who is accused of stealing a bullet by his boss, Ding (Liu Kai-Chi). To prove her innocence, Ding challenges her for a game of Russian roulette. She is unlucky enough to end up dead after she shoots herself in the head. Meanwhile, Song Donglu (Lau Ching-Wan), a quirky and eccentric prison superintendent who is known for his obsessive investigation method, is summoned by police chief Jin (Wu Gang) to investigate the murder of Chen Qi (Liu Yang), a foreman who has been hit by a bullet that went through his skull and made a dent in the wall. Teaming up with hotshot "fastest gun-in-the-region" detective Guo Zhui (Nicholas Tse), they head over to the ammunition factory where Chen Qi's death took place. Strangely enough, they find no trace of bullets. The workers there claims it must be the work of Yan, who returns as a ghost exacting revenge but Song and Guo figures there must be a less supernatural explanation in their investigation.
FAIRY TALE KILLER begins with an intriguing opening scene involving a suspicious-looking guy named Wu Zaijun (Wang Baoqiang) gets captured by the cops for loitering. His face is caked with makeup, and he also turns to be a mentally-challenged person. While held for questioning by Inspector Wong Wai-Han (Lau Ching-Wan), the leader of a five-man team (Ken Lo, James Ho, Gary Chiu and Kelly Fu), Wu reveals he has murdered someone named Cheung Fai (Lam Suet). To determine whether Wu is telling the truth or not, the cops investigate the matter and discovers that Cheung is alive and well. Realising they are being fooled about this, Wong decides to set him free since he figures Wu is a crazy idiot trying to waste their time. Next day, however, Cheung Fai is found dead, with seven pieces of stones stuffed inside his stomach. Soon Wong and his team realise they have committed a huge mistake of letting Wu walk scot-free the night before, and decides to conceal the fact for their wrongdoings. In turn, they try hard to solve the case as fast as possible before their situation goes from bad to worse. Meanwhile, Wong's personal life is no better. He has an autistic son whom he has a tough time trying to communicate with, while his estranged wife (Joey Meng) often blames him for not being sensitive enough to their own child.
Sunday, 16 September 2012
NAKED SOLDIER opens in 1980 where hotshot Interpol agent Lung Chi-Keung (Sammo Hung) has successfully infiltrated a massive drug bust and manages to confiscate all the goods worth US$25 million. The owner, Brother Power (Anthony Wong) is very upset over the matter and hires Madame Rose (Ellen Chan) and her assassins to kill Lung and his entire family over Christmas dinner at their home in Florida. Lung is lucky enough to escape death, but his beloved five-year-old daughter is kidnapped by Madame Rose and brainwashed her to make her believe she's her mother. The girl is given the name Phoenix and subsequently trained, along with other kidnapped children, to become a professional assassin when they are grown up. Fifteen years later in 1995, Madame Rose sends out her three best squads, Phoenix (Jennifer Tse), Selina (Ankie Beilke) and Ivy (Lena Lin), to wipe out a number of high-ranking international drug leaders. Enter Sam Wong (Andy On), who works for the Beijing police force, is assigned to the Hong Kong office of Interpol, to investigate the murder case. Along with his partner Siu Pei (Timmy Hung), he also reassigns Lung to help out with the case. Lung agrees, as long as Sam reopens the case of his missing daughter. While Selina and Ivy manage to accomplish their mission successfully, the same cannot be said to Phoenix. She is supposed to kill one of the drugs leaders' widows (Amy Lu) at the funeral in Taiwan, but she shows compassion and let her go instead even though her cover is already blown open. Madame Rose realises Phoenix's mistake and subsequently assigns her to kill Lung. Meanwhile, Selina has a huge grudge over Phoenix because she keeps thinking Phoenix is stealing her admirer, Dragon (Philip Ng).
All style but no substance is always best characterized Paul W.S. Anderson's directing efforts. In his new movie, RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION -- the fifth installment in the lucrative series -- continues his similar trend of filmmaking style. Suffice to say, whoever expecting Anderson to learn a thing or two about cohesive structure will be left disappointed.
Sunday, 9 September 2012
When I first came across the trailer of CHERNOBYL DIARIES, I predicted this would be just another PARANORMAL ACTIVITY-like knockoff especially the movie was written and produced by Oren Peli himself. And of course, there's the usual shaky-cam aesthetics. But after finally watching this movie, I was surprised that Bradley Parker's directorial debut is somehow worthwhile. While the movie is still suffered from tried-and-tested cliches, it does offers some genuine suspense to keep the genre fans satisfied.
Seth MacFarlane, best known for creating the long-running TV's animated sitcom, Family Guy, tries his hand on live-action feature for the first time with TED -- a high-concept raunchy comedy involving a man and a talking teddy bear. One can easily write this off as a flash-in-the-pan gimmick if the filmmaker fails to make it worthwhile in a feature-length movie, but MacFarlane is thankfully succeeds most of it.
Thursday, 6 September 2012
Oh, at long last! THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY has finally seen... the cold light of the day in the theaters. Shot in 2010, and shelved until its vague theatrical release in 2012, this action thriller is supposed to be director Mabrouk El Mechri's big break into Hollywood who previously known for his mockumentary drama on fading action star Jean-Claude Van Damme in JCVD (2008). Despite a would-be interesting cast of Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver, this typical action thriller is awfully generic and equally lackluster.
Tuesday, 4 September 2012
Over at IGN, some mash-up trailer geniuses online have asked a fascinating question -- "What if Pixar made THE EXPENDABLES 2?". So they used a lot of footage from the three TOY STORY movies to assemble a 2-minute trailer and replaced their original voiceovers found in THE EXPENDABLES 2 trailer. Cool and funny stuff. Check it out below.