Sunday, 24 September 2017

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE



            This is a proper sequel, in every sense of the word. It takes all the best parts of the first film and either brings it back or enhances it. Though I don't think a lot is enhanced, but given how good the first film is, sometimes its good enough just to enjoy more of the same. And like the first film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, to my satisfaction, has a very heartful story and some very emotional moments.

              This sequel brings back all the qualities that made the first film great. The high-octane action sequences are great fun to watch - with great action choreographs (especially those whips & lassos) presented by fast camera movements. And given the R-rating, director Matthew Vaughn didn't need to hold back. Although, I have to say it is used more to the comical side than to the gory side of things.

               And there's also some of that fun humour & dialogue. Meanwhile, the plot overall is probably nowhere near best story of the year, but it is decent. And I like the fact that it really progresses the story & development of the characters - which is also why I can say that this film is a proper sequel, because it is, even in the sense of the story.

              But the part I like best is the fact that this film has some very heartful moments. Obviously, I won't spoil them here, but there really are a few scenes I could pick out which were surprisingly quite emotional. So although this film is made more as a fun, silly action movie on the surface, this also shows that Matthew Vaughn cares about the story and the characters - and I like that and that deserves commendation.

              In the end, this film is really a proper sequel in every way, from the story & characters, and to the qualities it brings back. If you have a movie as good as the first Kingsman movie, sometimes more of the same is good enough. And this story moves forward and expands the world, and yes, I want to see more Kingsman movies...

VERDICT: 82 / 100

Sunday, 17 September 2017

SPOILER TALK: The Defenders S1

It has been a month since the release of the first season of The Defenders...
But I just have this nagging thought on why, on a very personal level, I didn't actually like it...

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               Before I start, I just want to call out again that I didn't necessarily think that this is a terrible show. It's not really a good one either, but as mentioned in my non-spoiler review, there are some things to enjoy from this series, and the story progression of the characters are fine. But there are things which happened which I really didn't like, and this is why I really disliked the final two episodes...because at the end of episode 6...

               Elektra killed Alexandra and took over as the main antagonist. On so many levels, I didn't like this. First and very simply, you had a character like Alexandra played by the amazing Sigourney Weaver who is suddenly undermined by an Elektra character who had been like a lost child throughout the series. Though Alexandra wasn't necessarily a great villain herself, it just gets worse by being undermined by Elektra.

             Furthermore, this is an Elektra who had spent a full episode sleeping in Matt's bed and seemingly remembering her past life. And all of a sudden, she is now this badass who wants to take over the world? How this that happen? What was the plan?

            And the worst part for me is that, on a very fundamental level, Elektra is not this big bad main antagonist character. If she is to be the best killer in the world that The Hand unleashes upon the heroes, then that works. But you look at that character on a very fundamental level, and you can see that Elektra is not a big bad antagonist. She is not a villain with a plan. It just doesn't fit and doesn't make any sense.

            And this is why I really disliked how the final two episodes of the series turned out to be. It did not make sense on many levels as I have described above, and it just loses its powerful opposing force. Especially when you've had great villains like Wilson Fisk or Kilgrave, this is just...pathetic, unfortunately...

Sunday, 10 September 2017

AMERICAN MADE



             The only knowledge I have about the man named Barry Seal - which is who this movie is all about - is from the Netflix series Narcos. Meanwhile, this film employs the narration style similar to that which was used in Narcos as well - albeit with more humour such that it becomes more Guy Ritchie-esque. So, to me, it ended up feeling a little bit like watching a Narcos episode (or movie, rather) that is directed by Guy Ritchie (which it isn't, because the director is Doug Liman).

              That being said, the movie is pretty good and pretty damn enjoyable. While my comments above make it seem like its nothing I've never seen before, it does not mean that I didn't enjoy it. As a matter of fact, I did. To think about it, it is actually a very fun style of storytelling which actually (fortunately) has not been overly used in modern movies. Of course, not all movies fit this type of style. So then, to be able to see this kind of fun, fast-paced style (and one that is done brilliantly) is a joy.

              To add on to that, Tom Cruise is perfect in the role. Of course, the real Barry Seal probably would not be remotely close to how he is portrayed, but for the sake of the movie, Tom Cruise did a bloody good performance that really fits and enhances the style of the film. The rest of the cast was okay, but there was no standout.

                The plot is decent, but again, it is the narration style that stood out - credit to director Doug Liman for that. The music was great as well and fits the tone of the movie perfectly. Otherwise, I think this is an excellent film which pulls of the style to perfection, and it makes it a rare biographical film that is just fun to watch with a great character you like to see. Really worth the watch.

VERDICT: 82 / 100

Saturday, 26 August 2017

TV Series: THE DEFENDERS S1



            The Netflix MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) team has produced some of the best series ever. Apart from Iron Fist - which wasn't that highly rated but still enjoyable - the others have seen very positive reception with the high quality series of Daredevil, Jessica Jones & Luke Cage. So, there is a lot of expectation riding on this mini-series that finally brings together the four street-level New York heroes.

            While there are some really enjoyable moments within the series, and some memorable scenes, too, I find The Defenders rather disappointing. The high quality storytelling and dialogue (as seen in their respective individual series) is missing. The series kicked on a little in the middle episodes after a very slow start in the first few episodes - but then was disappointing again at the end.

              Some of the positives includes the interactions between these main characters. The clash of personality is an interesting aspect of the show. And so is the coming together of the supporting characters from respective shows and the banter they have. The new villain Alexandra (played by the wonderful Sigourney Weaver) is good to an extent - but still lacks that cutting-edge persona. And of course, the action sequences are visually among the best we've seen.

              That being said, the storytelling & dialogue is poor. It didn't hook me in and get me invested as much as I did with the other series. The story feels shallow and without spoiling anything, a lot of the plot points only made me confused & annoyed. And those final two episodes also highlights why - despite having a high caliber actress in Sigourney Weaver - the villain in this show is nowhere near the likes of Kingpin or Kilgrave. And by the way, I underlined the word 'visually' in the previous paragraph because while the action looks cool, it didn't feel like it mattered because I wasn't invested enough and it never felt dangerous. Take, for example, the fight between Daredevil and The Punisher where each of the blow felt dangerous and you fear for what happens next. This one does not feel like that at all.

            With so much expectations riding on this series, it certainly feels disappointing. There are some cool action sequences & enjoyable moments, but is overall a disappointing set of events to watch...poor storytelling. Among the Netflix MCU, Daredevil S2 remains my personal best & favourite, closely followed by the high quality Jessica Jones S1 & Daredevil S1. Iron Fist S1 is still enjoyable, but Luke Cage S1 & The Defenders S1 are both disappointing for me.

VERDICT: 40 / 100

              I would not personally recommend this to anyone, but if you are an avid follower of the Netflix MCU, then it seems that there is no choice for you but to watch it and just try to enjoy the positives and keep your expectations low. Here's hoping The Punisher will be a much better turnout...

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Looking Forward: SEPTEMBER 2017

As usual, one of the quieter months of the Year...but with a nice little surprise towards the end of the month...



American Assassin (Sep 15 - USA, Sep 14 - UK, Oct 12 - Singapore)

             At a quick glance, this, to me, looks just like another action flick. There could be more to it, but not from what I can gather from the trailers. It might still be an exciting action flick to enjoy, but I don't see this being much different from many other action flicks that have come before.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tlFfArvVDY (Teaser Trailer)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yoEyzOkTOI (Trailer #1)


Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Sep 22 - USA, Sep 20 - UK, Sep 21 - Singapore)

               Not sure if this qualifies as the nice little surprise, but it certainly is the only major big-budget blockbuster in September. The first Kingsman film was a surprise, spectacular hit, and it was (I think) my number 2 or 3 film of that year. It was a really fun movie with lots of great humour & cool action, and not without a nice touching story, too. And this sequel, judging by all the trailers that has came out, looks to aim for more of the same, and that is exactly all I want from a Kingsman movie. With some great cast additions (mainly the American counterpart to the Kingsman), this is looking to be one hell of a film to watch.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6reo6h7h1wk (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48WwGPbXhMo (Trailer #2)


The Lego Ninjago Movie (Sep 22 - USA, Oct 13 - UK, Sep 28 - Singapore)

               This is the third movie in the Lego Movie series after the highly successful The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie. Both were critically very well received and I really liked both of them, so that actually gives me the confidence in the quality of this next film. But it is the property that I am not quite familiar of and so far, the trailers have not made me much interested in it either. It still does look decent and looks to be a funny animation flick, so I hope to be enjoying this movie. But if you are asking if I am excited about it....not so much yet.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJBS1ogEVHE (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1d2MYRboCsk (Comic-Con Trailer)


American Made (Sep 29 - USA, Aug 25 - UK, Aug 31 - Singapore)

               Another collaboration between director Doug Liman and actor Tom Cruise. The film is supposedly a biographical crime story which tells about Barry Seal (who I only heard the name before from Narcos). And initially, I wasn't too sure what to expect from this film, and I figured it might well be a serious drama (like most biographies are) about the life of this person. Instead, the trailers came out and I was pleasantly surprised. It took the fun, high-octane style and Tom Cruise looks like he's having a lot of fun in the role. It just seriously looks fun, so I'm quite excited about this film.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HG9lMOUtyXc (Trailer #1)


Other Movies:

            As usual, you can expect to find some major horror flicks in this section because I actively avoid them. In this month, the big one has to be It (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAUTdjf9rko) which is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, and will be out on September 8th. Meanwhile, this next film is more of a psychological horror/thriller instead and is directed (and written) by acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky. The film is Mother! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtTE_DBKpRY), and will be out on September 15th.
             There's quite a few comedies out in this month, but none of them really caught my attention. So I'm going to go ahead to a drama flick which did caught my attention, and that is Victoria & Abdul (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9Ad1M9DP-c), which actually looks pretty good. It is out on September 22nd.
              The last film I want to call out is a remake/sequel (not sure which) of a film in the 90s, and that is the science-fiction thriller Flatliners (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1S52y5ZVlY). I'm personally not that sold, but if I hear good things about this film, I might go and check it out.

Friday, 4 August 2017

BABY DRIVER



            A movie directed by Edgar Wright is always going to be fun. And this film is very much so. The style of the film is really fast-paced and unique, and the songs incorporated in the film is perfectly put to use. But there seems to be a lack of substance or depth in the plot - which doesn't actually make it a bad movie, but its just not as special as I thought it'd be.

              For sure, there is never any doubt in the directing ability of Edgar Wright. And since he also wrote this film and chose the songs and all, this is his film through and through. And the style he brings into the film is just unique & fun & fast-paced. The way the songs are incorporated in the film is perfect. The beats just match the scenes perfectly, and they enhance the feeling of the sequences. The whole film is really just straight-up energetic and fun to watch throughout.

            Meanwhile, the characters are decent, with some special standout like Jamie Foxx. And the dialogue is brilliant, and a lot of the humour pulls through excellently. Instead, what the film lacks is the substance - the depth of the plot. It is a very simplistic plot. And especially the last act of the film is also kind of dragged out. This is definitely the area that could've been improved.

              But otherwise, it really is a fun watch, with the Edgar Wright-style action & music. It is definitely worth the watch for a good fun, fast-paced movie. Unfortunately, it is all style, but little substance. So, don't expect a great movie, but expect a very fun one.

VERDICT: 70 / 100

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Best Trailers from San Diego Comic Con 2017

It's been more than a week since SDCC 2017, so this is actually quite late, but I just want to share my thoughts on it...
There so many interesting announcements & information from SDCC 2017, but I won't be talking too much about them...I will focus only on the trailers that came out...especially the very good ones...



Star Wars: The Last Jedi (from D23 2017)

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye6GCY_vqYk

               Okay, I know this is not from SDCC 2017, but Disney's D23 Expo happened just a week earlier, and this is the only good thing that came out from it (in terms of trailers/clips). That being said, it is indeed really good. It is a behind-the-scenes video, but you really get the feel from it. Some of the images that they show are really cool, and there are some funny remarks (like the one from John Boyega) and some very inspiring ones, too (like from Carrie Fisher). And the music that accompanies it is really awesome, and fits perfectly to the tone of the montage.

Netflix Trailers

Bright: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EZCBSsBxko

The Defenders: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_6J9BqgonU

Star Trek: Discovery: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWnYtyNKPsA

                First off, Bright is a movie that will be released immediately on Netflix in December. Personally, I am not that keen into this film, but it does look pretty interesting and has a great cast. Meanwhile, if I have to pick the product that I am interested in most, it would be The Defenders. But the trailer is not that great. It's decent, but its nothing to rave about. Finally, Star Trek: Discovery actually looks very cool & has a pretty good trailer. I was initially concerned about a Star Trek TV series, but thanks to the involvement of Netflix, it received a high budget (for TV) which allows the special effects to be done so brilliantly well. It really looks good.

Other/Marvel TV Trailers

Inhumans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xU9Z6cKsbY0&t=2s

The Gifted: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSvX-azZmG4

                Now I know that there are a lot of DC trailers (Arrow, The Flash, Gotham, etc) that came out...but I have to admit that I am no longer following any of them. Unfortunately they feel too repetitive and I have lost the interest in watching them. Meanwhile, these shows (Inhumans, The Gifted) are new shows, so obviously I am interested and will give them a chance....whether I ended up liking it or giving up on them is another story. Also, before I have DC fanboys shouting at me, I need you to know that I have given up on Agents of SHIELD long before I had given up on the CW shows.

              Now in terms of the above trailers, I have to say that I am just borderline interested in Inhumans. The trailer actually doesn't look that good, and I'm not too sure how the show will be. I am still interested, but I am cautiously optimistic with the quality of the show. On the other hand, initially I was very skeptical about The Gifted, but this trailer is really awesome! It looks very cool, and I like some of the characters involved (Polaris, Blink). And with Bryan Singer directing the pilot, I am now really quite interested in this show.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0fvqnGmr9S8

              The trailer is pretty cool, but it didn't add too much excitement for me. Partially, it might be because I am already sold on the film, anyway, but its also partially because the trailer is not great (decent, but not spectacular).

Thor: Ragnarok

Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue80QwXMRHg

               Marvel Studios may have released a bunch of videos in the panel itself, but the only one released to the public/internet is the new trailer for Thor: Ragnarok. And I have to say, I kind of enjoyed the trailer and where they are taking this film. I still admit, deep down, I would rather have a dark Thor movie (I mean, the title is Ragnarok, for God's sake). That being said, I really like everything that I have seen so far, and I am super excited to see this film now. Even the trailers themselves are already enjoyable to watch on their own.

Warner Bros Studios

Ready Player One: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=znavw4akfoY

Justice League: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_6yBZKj-eo

              Everything that I have heard about Ready Player One is nothing short of exciting. A great premise based on a great novel. Directed by Steven Spielberg, scored by Alan Silvestri, and includes an array of great actors (Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Rylance, etc). But the trailer wasn't very good. In fact, I was quite disappointed by it. The visual looks pretty cool, but the overall trailer quality was poor.

              On the other hand, the winner of the best trailer of SDCC 2017 has to be Justice League. The trailer is 4 minutes long, and it is awesome! The glimpses of the villain is pretty cool (and that voice is super menacing!), and the whole trailer contains some very cool shots and exciting action sequences. I am still not totally into the jokes from Barry Allen (The Flash), but save that, this whole trailer is spectacular. Even the music in the trailer is just epic! And if we're getting into some of the details, I like the the fact that the villain mentioned 'No Lanterns' as reference to the Green Lantern, and of course, we can only guess who that mysterious individual was at the end there. But, as a trailer, it is a very good trailer with cool shots and great music. It is easily the best trailer of SDCC 2017!