Posts

Men in Black: International

Image
This was another bland and uninteresting summer sequel. The only saving grace was the undeniable chemistry between Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. And even then, director F. Gary Gray failed to capitalise on it, resulting in a supposed action/buddy-comedy that was lacking in both excitement and laughs.  The story, written by Art Marcum and Matt Holloway, was predictable, uninspiring and silly with such minimal stakes for a planet-saving organisation that the possible dire outcome never felt important or threatening. It started promising with the introduction of Thompson's character, but thereafter, the writing just got lazy.

Usually for such summer blockbusters, if they know the script is weak then they would obfuscate the lack of quality with lots of kick-ass action sequences and CGI extravaganzas. But strangely enough, even with the director of The Fate of the Furious, at the helm we had no adrenaline-rushes or awe-struck moments. That one chase-sequence felt unpolished and…

X-Men: Dark Phoenix

Image
When you go into a film with extremely low expectations, even a terrible film can be acceptable. And, boy, this was a bad film. 

The writing and directing, both by Simon Kinberg, were bad. They were not necessarily the worse ever, but really, it was amateurish. The screenplay was clunky and cringe-worthy, with so many bad lines that any chuckling was more from the eye-rolling hilarity of it all than genuine comic relief.

Then we have Kinberg’s directorial debut. Granted, it was a decent job for a first timer, but he lacked vision and an eye for details. Scenes and narrative moved along with no sense of purpose other than to reach the end; action sequences were messy and hard to follow. Not one scene in the 114 minutes really stood out other than the prologue (sadly, the rest of the film failed to maintain that level of showmanship). 

But at least Kinberg had the decency to keep the film under 2 hours. Then again, it cannot be too difficult when the film itself lacked a clear narrative ar…

Rocketman

Image
Disclaimer: I'm an Elton John fan. Actually flew to NYC to catch his Farewell Yellowbrick Road Farewell World Tour at MSG. He was amazing!

This was a fun film. As a jukebox musical, Rocketman was top-rate. Elton John's songs are iconic and catchy and really helped to hold the story together. It will really translate well to a stage musical. However, as a biopic - and dramatically speaking - it was weak. The emotional beats were absent and the actual narrative too thin.

Dexter Fletcher directed an energetic, if otherwise formulaic, musical film that was clearly an "authorised" depiction of John's public persona. In truth, there was nothing deep nor personal about John that was gleaned from the film.

Nonetheless, the execution was good. The costumes and music were brilliant, and the actors were great. Taron Egerton gave his best performance so far and did bear a close resemblance to John himself; Jamie Bell and Richard Madden were also perfectly cast. It was almost…

Aladdin

Image
Aladdin was entertaining and yet, inoffensively bland. There was nothing shining, shimmering splendid about the film except, surprisingly, for Will Smith's Genie, and Alan Menken's timeless score/music. Smith - as terrifying as it was to see him all in blue - both honoured Robin William's indomitable Genie and absolutely made it his own. He was a constant highlight.

Sadly, the rest of the film failed to deliver a fantastic point of view or showed us a a dazzling place that we never knew. The overall production value looked cheap, with CGI and production designs that would not looked out of place on network TV (too much budget spent on Smith's Genie?). Seriously, at times, it felt like I was watching a slightly glossier version of the late (and under-appreciated) Galavant.

Actually Galavant might actually have been more fun in total.

Guy Ritchie was an odd choice to direct this live-action musical. He excelled in the action sequences but failed to effectively capture th…

Godzilla: King of the Monsters [IMAX/3D]

Image
This film was the definition of bad writing, illogical plotting, over-acting - on top of bad acting! - and  terrible directing, but if you go in expecting all that, accept it and then embrace it, the monsters will make it worth it. The kaiju fights were spectacular, loud, exciting, dynamic - if only a touch messy (which could also have been aggravated by the 3D-induced dimming) - and actually satisfying. Take away the distracting humans and their nonsensical, boring storyline, cut the running time by 20% and it might actually give Pacific Rim: Uprising(not the original!) a run for its money.

Michael Dougherty directed and co-wrote Godzilla: KOTM and maybe they should have let Gareth Edwards, who directed the 2014 Godzilla, continued on the franchise. Dougherty, and his cinematographer Lawrence Sher, had some great shots, especially when they go wide, but otherwise, his penchant for extreme close-ups were bordering on comical and ridiculous. He ain't no Barry Jenkins.

And as the d…

Long Shot

Image
Long Shot was a light, frothy and entertaining rom-com, but they sure do not make rom-coms like they use do. It knows it is a rom-com but had a fear of committing totally to the genre. The film was littered with rom-com tropes but always toed the line of either going all meta and genre-parodying or breaking new ground and going against the expected. 
Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen have great comedic chemistry, although their romantic chemistry was somewhat lacking. There were some really good laugh out loud moments, but they were more because of great, unexpected physical comedy by Rogen rather than smart, funny writing. The screenplay was the film's weakest link.. It was a bit too long, too uneven, too ambitious and unnecessarily political. If I wanted to watch a Trump-skewering political comedy/satire, I would watch re-runs of The Good Fight  or Veep.
Rogen is a good actor, but his character felt stereotypical and repetitive. He was a walking trope but he lacked the affable, sel…

Burning 버닝

Image
Lee Chang-dong successfully and faithfully translated Haruki Murakami’s beautiful, poetic prose to the screen. 

A slow-burn psychological thriller / character study that weaved an ambiguous narrative with haunting imageries. There are cats, jazz, running and even a sprinkle of magical realism, but all yet grounded in Lee’s reality of KPop, societal isolation, the desolation of youth and the dichotomy of classes. 

Three actors held “Burning” together, and although Steve Yeun and Jeon Jong-seo were great in their role, especially the latter who had a haunting yet magnetic presence, it really was Yoo Ah-in’s story that Lee was telling and Yoo was exceptional. He was emotive without being exaggerating, and sincere without being superficial. And through the film, we do end up caring about him and for him.

Burning was possibly one of the best Murakami’s adaptation and rewarding for both fans of Murakami and cinephiles.