Friday, 26 May 2017

PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES



               Fast 8, Guardians 2, King Arthur, and now this...I think Hollywood should stop making movies which aren't necessarily great which I still end up liking/enjoying. It has become the same story (for me) with the summer blockbusters so far...I really need either a great blockbuster or a crap film now (just to shake things up a bit)...hopefully its the former.

                Although, with this film, while my overall feelings with other recent blockbusters are similar, there is quite a big difference. In the aforementioned movies, I find the overall plot rather generic but enjoyed the moments or sequences within the film. With Pirates, it is rather the other way around. The moments/scenes aren't quite that memorable, but I find the overarching plot very interesting. Obviously, I won't spoil anything here, but somehow the overarching plot here makes a lot of sense, and I admire the repercussions of the plot events. 

                For the first two-thirds of the film, it was a bit hit and miss for me. There were moments I enjoyed, but there were also moments I disliked. For me, the first act was a bit too dragged out and not quite interesting. But once we get into the seas, it gets much more interesting, and while some of the jokes didn't land (especially that stupid "wedding" scene), overall it was exciting. The last act, though, was pretty solid, and I personally liked the ending.

                The villain Salazar, meanwhile, is pretty cool & menacing thanks to a slightly eccentric performance by Javier Bardem. I think that guy can do no wrong. The action sequences are pretty awesome & fun, and the visual effects are well done. And as with all the other Pirates of the Caribbean movies, the score/soundtrack is just awesome. The music really gets you and really brings you into this world.

                 In the end, most of the film is really quite a hit and miss, but the last act was solid, and the overarching plot (major plot points) is excellent. It is neither the best nor worst in the series, and it is also neither the best nor the worst of the summer so far, but it is a film I really enjoyed.

VERDICT: 65 / 100

                 As with recent blockbuster films, I find it hard to convincingly recommend the film to everyone. But I think this is quite a fun movie, and you (generally) should be able to enjoy it, too.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Looking Forward: JUNE 2017

There is quite a lot of big movies that I am interested to watch this June, but unfortunately there is only one that I am really, really eager to see...



Wonder Woman (Jun 2-USA, Jun 1-UK, May 31-Singapore)

             And this would be the one. Kicking off June is easily my most anticipated film of the month and is the DC film I'm looking forward to most this year (yes, more than Justice League). This film looks awesome. The look of the early 1900s in this film is awesome, and I also like the incorporation of World War I into the plot. And as can be seen in the trailers, the film looks to have some great humour from the characters. And even the action sequences look awesome from the trailer. Directed by Patty Jenkins, I do hope this will be the first DCEU film that will really hit its mark, both critically & commercially. And by the way, all the trailers are awesome, but especially check out the second and the last trailer. I really like those.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tgk_63b-Mrw (Comic Con Trailer)
(Must See!!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HUlW21v1fQ&t=1s (Trailer #2)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=piIUpbIlp8U ('Origin' Trailer)
(Must See!!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMYyemI0nxY (Trailer #4)


The Mummy (Jun 9-USA, Jun 9-UK, Jun 8-Singapore)

               Initially, I was quite excited with the notion of this film kicking off the Universal Monsters shared universe. Then they announced the cast (Tom Cruise, Sofia Boutella, Russell Crowe, etc) and I got even more excited. It all sounded perfect. But then the trailers came out, and somehow...I'm actually not sold. I don't feel anything particularly special that this film offers, and I look at Tom Cruise, and he almost looks like he's just in another Mission: Impossible film (if Mission: Impossible had mummies/monsters). The first trailer wasn't really good, for me. The second & third one were better, but again, I don't feel anything special. 
              As of right now, I would much rather watch the 1999 movie with Brendan Fraser, because that one was really funny. I can't say the same about the sequels but I really enjoyed the 1999 The Mummy movie, and I had lots of laughs with it. With this new one, I'm really not that excited for it, but I do hope to be proven wrong when the movie comes out.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJxgxVH0Fsk&t=1s (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i3Kq2qliOXc&t=3s (Trailer #2)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-l9U23HFn8k (Trailer #3)


Cars 3 (Jun 16-USA, Jul 14-UK, Aug 24-Singapore)

                I know a lot of people don't really like the Cars films (especially the second), and they are considered to be among the weakest of the Pixar properties. But personally, I have to say I enjoyed these films. And there is a certain appreciation I have for the creativity that comes into the idea of showing how cars live (sleep, work) like humans do...and they even have spies too (Cars 2, yes). So while I understand that people like the Cars films least, I still enjoyed them, and perhaps with a better written story, this next movie could redeem the franchise and be on par with the other Pixar films...or at least, closer to, because most Pixar films were really good in both the emotional story & the fun to be had.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYHv3GJtjto (Teaser)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctaGHP5-rh0 ('Next Generation' Teaser)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGGM5Sy5PJs (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bg0XgDfNQHM (Trailer #2)


Transformers: The Last Knight (Jun 21-USA, Jun 22-UK, Jun 22-Singapore)

                 This is perhaps one of those franchises that critics like least, but still made tons of money every time. It really goes against the natural order. Similar to the film above, I understand why a lot of people don't like these films, but I do find myself enjoying some of them. I completely agree that none of the Transformers movies were of good quality, but there are some cool moments to enjoy. So, with this next one, I'm not that looking forward to it because I don't feel the need/urge to watch another Transformers movie at this point. But, I do think there will be some cool action moments & visuals to enjoy. In other words, I don't completely hate or despise this franchise, but I do know that I can't expect the film to be good. But hey, who knows this one might be good?

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AntcyqJ6brc (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rW1byMeeZNA (Trailer #2)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQm3djLYWB8&t=1s (Trailer #3)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=011XwobhhQM (Final Trailer)


Baby Driver (Jun 28-USA, Jun 28-UK, Jul 20-Singapore)

                 There are two very simple reasons why I'm excited for this film. The main one is Edgar Wright. He is such a brilliant writer/director and he has his own unique style & comedic tone. I really enjoyed the Cornetto trilogy films with Simon Pegg, and it was also quite a missed opportunity that we didn't get to see his version of Ant-Man. But this film looks certainly right up his alley, and looks awesome, too. And by the way, the second reason would be the cast, with the likes of Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Lily James, my man Jon Bernthal and more. An awesome cast in a cool looking film by a brilliant director. I'm on board.

Trailer:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9YZw_X5UzQ (Trailer #1)


Despicable Me 3 (Jun 30-USA, Jun 30-UK, Jun 15-Singapore)

               The first Despicable Me film was awesome and had a very powerful story. The second was pretty good & quite enjoyable. Minions, however, wasn't really good. So this franchise currently has a worryingly downwards trend, and unfortunately, from what I've seen so far (the trailers), there is no sign that this film looks to bring it back to the glory of the original. I'm a bit concerned that the jokes are starting to feel jaded, and perhaps they are also running out of fresh ideas. Obviously, I could be wrong, but from the trailers, I see no sign of returning to the quality of the original film. But at least the film should be quite fun to watch, and hopefully the story is a bit better than what's shown so far.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rlq39IC07qA (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uApRZVgOvxc (Trailer #2)


Other Movies:

             A long time back (around when I was in primary school), I remember reading some of the Captain Underpants books. I don't recall much of it now...all I know is that I enjoyed the flip-o-rama parts of the book. So, with this upcoming animated Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6y0M4_ptUA), I don't have much excitement for it right now, but if it turns out to be good, I might be curious to check it out. The film comes out on June 2nd.
              Now, as most of you may well know, I actively avoid horror flicks, so I can't possibly advise you on upcoming horror films. But thanks to some outside sources, I do notice this one film called It Comes at Night (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-0hcF97wy0), which I heard is actually pretty good. There might be others to check out, but this is one you horror fans might want to keep an eye out for. This film comes out on June 9th.
                 Up next is a film I wasn't initially too keen on, but the trailers got me hooked. Directed by Colin Trevorrow (before he takes on the titan that is Star Wars Episode IX), this drama called The Book of Henry (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dz8R2xxeyaA&t=42s) has a very intriguing premise, and I like seeing the mother-son dynamic in the film. This film comes out on June 16th.
                  Finally, a thriller called 2:22 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Af2N3N5rURI). I'm not fully convinced of the quality of the film (partially because of the lack of big names), but the film does carry an intriguing premise. This film is out on June 30th.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD



              Sometimes I look at box office tracking numbers, and I pity films like these. This movie is not bad at all, and yet it looked like it will be a major flop...and that is just sad to see. I realize that this is nowhere near the best movie of the year, but it actually isn't that bad. I had fun with the film, and most of all I enjoy the unique cinematic style employed by director Guy Ritchie. I'm not sure the exact reason why but it really is so sad that this film doesn't seem to appeal the mass audience.

              Firstly, let me agree to the fact that this movie, ultimately, isn't that great. The overall plot is pretty substandard and it lacks the meaning and depth for the characters. So, in the end, it simply becomes a chain of events that occur, but doesn't quite impact character developments that much. And to add to that, even the characters (including the villain, which is quite a shame) aren't quite memorable, except for Arthur himself.

              That being said, I really enjoyed the hell out of this film - and the key to that is the cinematic style of Guy Ritchie. These fast cut sequences were just so different than what you'd get in normal films, and they are just plain fun to watch. The humour that you see in this film (which is partially due to this particular cinematic style) is a typical Guy Ritchie humour - kind of similar to the ones you might see in his other films (The Man from UNCLE, Sherlock Holmes). And in this day & age, movies with a unique cinematic style don't often come by, so I really cherished & enjoyed these moments.

                However, I do have to admit that there were some continuous tracking shots which actually weren't that great. Unlike other better tracking shots (including the recent opening sequence in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), the ones in this movie lack the focus, so it looks more messy than awesome. Furthermore, the visual effects doesn't look very top notch, and neither were the action sequences particularly memorable. But its just a general observation, and I won't complain too much about those.

               Finally, apart from the unique cinematic sequences, there is one other part of this film that stands out....and that would be the score/music by Daniel Pemberton. The score in this film, especially the ones that accompany the fast cut sequences, are such a perfect match and enhances the feel of these sequences.

              In the end, with the flaws as mentioned above, I realize that this is nowhere near the top echelon movies of the year...but there is fun to be had in this film. And for me, the unique cinematic style & humour employed by Guy Ritchie, along with the accompanying score, is really worth the watch and worth the price of admission.

VERDICT: 70 / 100

               I don't want to go running around telling everyone to go catch this movie, but with the flaws above in mind, I really do believe that you will have fun watching this film and the (rare) unique cinematic style in this film is something to be cherished and enjoyed.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

UNLOCKED



              This will be a pretty short review because there isn't a lot to talk about with this film. This movie feels like one of those straightforward action movies with a generic plot and some decent action. But that's not to say its bad...in fact this film, for me, is pretty watchable...though it is most definitely not memorable.

               The action sequences are pretty decent. The mix of some gun action and some hand-to-hand combat are kind of what you would normally expect from a movie like this. Any less, and it would have been disappointing.

               In terms of story, it is pretty much quite generic, but it is supported by the twist/reveals which keeps it interesting. To be honest, I was getting a bit bored by the plot, and for a moment, I was becoming quite critical of the plot. But then the plot twists unfolded and I begin to appreciate the plot a little more. I still maintain that it mostly feels like a generic action plot, but the twists made it a bit more interesting than it otherwise would have been.

                This film does have a stellar cast with the likes of John Malkovich, Michael Douglas, etc, but none of the performances or characters themselves stood out. They were all pretty decent, and it works fine for an action movie like this. And in the end, the conclusion for me is pretty simple. The film mostly feels like a generic action movie which is still very much watchable, but has nothing special or memorable to offer.

VERDICT: 46 / 100

              For sure, it would be a good cable watch. But unless you are really bored out, it is not worth the price of a movie ticket.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

SPOILER TALK: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

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Memorable Moments


               This film may not be among the top echelons of Marvel movies, but it certainly has its moments. My personal favourite moment simply has to be the opening sequence. The screen continuously follows a dancing Baby Groot (to the tune of the wonderful "Mr Blue Sky") while all the action is happening in the background. To me, this really sets up the tone and reminds audiences that "Yes, you are watching a Guardians of the Galaxy movie", and they pulled it off spectacularly. And in case you're wondering, yes, that song is well and truly stuck in my head.
                    There are a few other scenes (comedic moments, rather) that I thoroughly enjoyed. The first of which - again is a scene involving Baby Groot - when both Yondu & Rocket are stuck in a cell and tries to explain to Baby Groot to get them Yondu's prototype fin. Of course, things didn't really go well for the first few times, and the outcome was hilarious every time...not to mention Yondu & Rocket's reactions.
                  The other scene - partially involves Baby Groot - but the focus is more on Star-Lord as he tries asking each and every one of the Guardians for tape. Rocket did try to ask for some tape to cover the death button in the bomb, but I didn't expect Star-Lord to literally ask the others one by one for some tape. But it is also the cinematic brilliance of James Gunn to keep our focus on a waiting Rocket, while Star-Lord can be heard in the background literally contacting the other team members individually. I totally cracked up on that scene.

Ego the Living Planet


                  One of the biggest (no pun intended) twist in the movie. Some may argue that it is slightly telegraphed, but for me, this is quite a shock. It might be the case that I came into the film expecting Ego to just be his dad (without any alternative thoughts) and it could also be the fact that I perhaps (subconsciously) didn't want Kurt Russell to be the villain. And yet, here he is as the main villain of the film, and I thought that really worked well. It is just that before that happened, the movie really kind of slowed down and seems like its heading in no direction, but I personally thought the outcome was well done.

Yondu Udonta


                 Easily the best character in the whole film. This film really explores more of Yondu's backstory, with the meeting with Stakar explaining his position in the Ravagers, and some explanation later on in the film on why he did not deliver Peter Quill to Ego. Because of that, we can understand why Yondu has a soft spot for Quill, and most of the time acted like his dad (though clearly not Dad of the Year kind).

               But this also sets up perfectly the redemption story of Yondu. And by the time we reach that moment when Yondu flies Quill up to space and gives him the spacesuit, I literally had tears out. It was so emotional and touching and it came at a time when I was really liking Yondu so much. I personally wished to see more of Yondu in future films, but I suppose it really is the perfect end to the story arc of Yondu Udonta, and he gets the respect/appreciation he deserves from his family - from both Peter Quill, and the whole of the Ravagers.
              And this sends that strong message that sometimes family is not (only) about your blood, but about spending time with them and caring for them. Take note, people!!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2



          A lot of the things that made the first Guardians movie so fun & special is back in this sequel. The cool characters, the comedic moments, and even those enjoyable songs. I can concur with a lot of the critics' sentiment that this is not as good a movie as the first one, but the qualities that it carry still made it the Guardians of the Galaxy movie we all expected, and I had lots of fun with it.

              Even from the opening sequence, you can already see what the film is all about. It immediately catches the attention and tells people that this is indeed James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy movie. And the song in play was a song that I ended up really enjoying, and that opening sequence was easily a highlight of the film for me. The rest of the film is, as you might expect, peppered with these classic songs. I have to say that most of them didn't really stuck in my mind, but when they do...they do. The aforementioned opening sequence song is one of them.

               But excellent songs aside, the best thing about this franchise are the great characters like Peter Quill, Drax, Rocket...who all have very distinct & unique personalities. Like Peter Quill & Rocket who are the more rash & carefree of the group, while Drax & Mantis are the more innocent & literal. The interactions between these kind of characters are just super fun to watch (and most of the time, hilarious). Not to mention the addition of the super cute & innocent Baby Groot. As you might expect, he steals a few scenes all on his own. But the one character that really stood out, for me, was Yondu. Michael Rooker brings the charisma to the character, but also a performance that is more than what we had seen from the first movie.

                A very shallow criticism on the movie is that it lacks the action sequences. And even when there are action sequences, there isn't too much of it. But I can accept that because it usually is to accommodate James Gunn's directing style which ends up making the scene comedic. In fact, I loved them. But a deeper criticism would be that the film lacks an active & purposeful plot. For quite a while in the middle of the film, our characters are just whiling away without any real sense of purpose. I can understand why it happened, but in watching the movie, it gets a little boring. Until such time when a certain action kicked off the final act, the plot was moving quite rather slowly without anything particularly appealing happening.

               But apart from that rather dull part of the film, I really enjoyed the rest of the film. The first act of the film was just classic Guardians of the Galaxy and a lot of fun to watch, while the last 30-40 mins was a very solid final act with some great action & humour, and some dramatic weight, too. Overall, a decent quality sequel, but one that I personally loved a lot.

VERDICT: 74 / 100

               To put this easily, this film is not as well structured as its predecessors, but apart from that less intriguing part in the middle of the film, remains very much the fun & enjoyable Guardians of the Galaxy movie that fans will come to expect...

Monday, 24 April 2017

Looking Forward: MAY 2017

This month sees an abundance of big blockbusters movies...from kings to pirates...from guardians of galaxies to guardians of beaches...



Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 5-USA, Apr 28-UK, Apr 27-Singapore)


               One of two movies I am looking forward to the most in the summer, and by far my most anticipated movie of the month. I always say that while the first Guardians was never even close to being my favourite MCU film, I deeply appreciate how special it was and how unique it was, and I have deep admiration for Mr. James Gunn because of that. And this sequel, based on everything that I've seen, fully embraces that uniqueness in the tone & in the characters, and I really love it.
                  You only need to look at the trailers to see how they proudly embrace the brand that is Guardians of the Galaxy. Even in the very first teaser (first look), they did not even feel the need to put in the title because they know people are aware of this brand. And even as I am not too sure what the plot will be or who the main villain actually is, I really don't mind it at all because the best thing about James Gunn's films are the distinct characters and the humourous dialogue, and I already like what I've seen from all the trailers.

Trailers:
(Must See!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wX0aiMVvnvg (Teaser)
(Must See!!!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pr7tDrwQ3t8 (Trailer #1)
(Must See!!!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hdv_6gl4gk (Trailer #2)


King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (May 12-USA, May 19-UK, May 18-Singapore)

              Initially, I wasn't really too keen about this film. I am curious, yes, but it is not a movie that I felt I need to watch. Then, I watched the trailers and saw Guy Ritchie's stamp all over it (much like the kind of sequences you see in Sherlock Holmes, or more recently, The Man from UNCLE).
              Not that it completely turns my feelings about this film, but it does intrigue me a little more. I had fun with his aforementioned movies, and I felt that his type of visual style is always unique & fun to watch, so I am a little bit more excited about this film than I initially was.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4luDtkC3Oy0 (Comic-Con Trailer)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqbePJOLdjY (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTOuIvxd578&t=9s (Trailer #2)


Alien: Covenant (May 19-USA, May 12-UK, May 10-Singapore)

               I was never personally a fan of this franchise. In fact, I don't think I have ever watched any of the films apart from the most recent Prometheus. And to be honest, I don't exactly remember that film and what I thought of it. But I am aware of how big the Alien brand is and how popular this franchise is. For many people, I suppose this should feel more like the original Alien film (also by director Ridley Scott), which blends a good horror element to a science-fiction story.
              The first trailer is also really good, though.

Trailers:
(Must See!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJ6RX8YBpI4 (Trailer #1)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5KPP6lxRVg (Trailer #2)


Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (May 26-USA, May 26-UK, May 25-Singapore)

                The Pirates franchise have never been the greatest of films, but they always have been good fun blockbusters. The story is about pirates and thieves and killers but the movies have always taken a very light approach. Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow is a very unique & likable character (and is arguably Johnny Depp's best character role) and is clearly a key selling point of these movies. But more than that, the dialogue between characters have always been on the lighter/funny side, and the movies never takes itself seriously. Add to that some fun, swashbuckling action sequences, and these Pirates films tend to be one good fun summer blockbuster. This next one looks to be no different.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6i77T6KzYxM&t=4s (Teaser)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrGyD4kHTSE (Trailer #1) 


Baywatch (May 25-USA, May 29-UK, May 25-Singapore)

               I wasn't initially too sure what to expect from this movie, but the trailers gave all the answers. An action comedy which doesn't hold back at all. And Dwayne Johnson really is at the top of his game nowadays. I feel like I see him in a movie every few months now. But he is a great action star who has shown his comedic chops in many movies before (Central Intelligence being my favourite). This is really quite the action-comedy to look forward to.

Trailers:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nZ5tqzw841s (Teaser)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G25VrMdArlU (Trailer #1) 


Other Movies:

              With so many blockbuster movies (as above), there is almost no need for me to look elsewhere for a chance to spend my hard-earned cash. But there is a film that caught my interest (although I probably won't be watching it, anyhow), and that is The Wall (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSjQr8Bc-QY), a film directed by Doug Liman. I get the concept of the plot, but the film looks to be so small in scope, I am not sure what to expect from this film. It comes out on May 12th.