Friday, December 31, 2010

The 10 Best & Worst Movies of 2010

As 2010 comes to an end, let's celebrate the best and worse cinematic experience. Here's my top 10 movies that been screened in a Singapore Theatre (or other form of public screening) from the 1st Jan 2010 to the 31st Dec 2010. It's not possible for me to catch all the movies that out in Singapore and my selective nature might have prevented me from catching some others gems (or duds) of 2010. Nevertheless, here my list of Best and Worst 10 of 2010 ...

The 10 Best Movies of 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo | Män som hatar kvinnor - Who would expect a Swedish Film about a 40 year old cold case could be this good. It's so good that there's two sequels and a Hollywood remake (by David Fincher) coming soon. The thriller is compelling and rather graphic (specially when it depicts rape). The characters are intriguing and the actors (Michael Nyqvist & Noomi Rapace) were terrific in their respective roles. It's a pity that the following two sequels pale in comparison.

Triple Tap | 鎗王之王 - As a sequel to Double Taps, Triple Tap offered something new and something old. It once again flash out the engaging psychological rivalry between two sharpshooters and even offer linkage to the original with Alex Fong returning as the wise mentor who had been scarred from the experience in the original movie. The psychological case here is twisty and keep the viewer guessing what's the criminal mastermind up to. Triple Tap get a lock in my top ten due to it's ability to retain the flavor of the original movie while branching out to something new.

the social network - Facebook currently the biggest social networking platform in the net. Who would have guess that the formation of Facebook would packed so much drama and emotions? Leave it to David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin to craft out one heck of a movie that in most movie fans' top ten of 2010.  Awesome performance by Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake. and Not forgetting the soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross ... currently receiving plenty of playbacks on my mp3 player.

Flowers フラワーズ - Beautifully shot with various styles that define the different era of Japanese movies, Flowers focus on the struggles of six ladies from the 1930s till modern times. The movie brings out the various hardship and difficult decisions that they might face. They reacted differently but yet still retain a certain gracefulness that admirable. Kudos have to be given to the filmmakers and the cast for making their respective segment memorable when they have only so limited time to shine.

Confessions 告白 - The best vengeance movie of 2010. How do you extract revenge on people who simply apathetic with other people's lives? How do you teach the self centered generation about the pain of others?  This beautifully shot movie did it in the most disturbing way and in a way brilliant. It hooked you with the opening intro and never let go until the final dialogue fades away with the blackout. It reveal confessions upon confessions, digging to the truth of what's really in the mind of those involved. Bold concepts and eerily relatable.

Liar Game: the Final Stage ライアーゲーム ザ・ファイナルステージ - My friend been recommending Liar Game TV series to me and although this is my first introduction to the world of Liar Game, it's not hard to see why it's worth recommending. Completely accessible to newbies, Liar Game: the Final Stage is constructed on simple rules to test one's greed and deviousness. It does not conveniently abandon the rules (like a couple of other movies that I saw) and the unconventionally thinking to get around the game were a delight to follow.

Shutter Island - In many ways, Shutter Island felt rather similar to Inception. Beside having the same leading man, the protagonists that leading the operations weren't really in the right frame of mind. Both are plagued with their own dreams and obsession with their wives. While many embraced Inception, Shutter Island would be the flick that's in my top ten. The emotional trauma and the revelation felt more realistic and poignant to me.

Summer Wars サマーウォーズ - An interesting blend on family bonds and the internet realm.

Not many anime / movie could achieve the fine balancing act of bringing those two elements together. Summer Wars not only combine both elements well, it bring a rousing performance that's able to bring a strong emotion affection even on the second viewing.

One of the Best Japanese animation have to offer in 2010 and it just reaffirms that Mamoru Hosoda (who also directed The Girl Who Leapt Through Time) is one guy to watch out for.

Up in the Air - Technically a 2009 movie and a contender for the last Academy Awards, Up in the Air was release theatrically in Singapore on March 2010 and remained etched as my top 2 favorite 2010 movies. Up in the Air is about a man who fly all over to assist with corporate downsize. A movie that invokes thoughts on our daily trivial pursuits and our jobs. It's about perspectives in life and how you don't always get what you want. It's funny, it's informative, it's interesting, it's heart breaking and last but not least it offered a glimpse of hope.

Fish Story | フィッシュストーリー - An Epic tale of Apocalyptic proportion...  told in a series of irrelevant and non-chronological stories. Childhood dreams, friendship, courage, faith and passion for music, this is what the 20th Century Boys tried to achieve in their trilogy but somehow fumble and made a mess with the materials at hand.

Fish Story is defiant, invoking a sense of wonderment and a groovy punk rock song with the weirdest lyrics that hard to forget. It dealt with the process of creation and facing the uncertain future. Needless to say, I was elated when Fish Story won the audience vote for Best Film of the Japanese Film Festival (Singapore).

Other notable mentions for 2010 ... they are all great and 4 stars movies but just couldn't squeeze into my top ten for 2010.

Lala Pipo: A Lot of People, I Give My First Love to You, Fantastic Water Babes, Goemon, Little Big Soldier, Nodame Cantabile: The Final Score Part 1, Iron Man 2, Toy Story 3, Aftershock, The Joneses, Outrage & Air Doll.

The 10 Worst Movies 0f 2010

Vampires Suck - Who would expect a parody of a dreary teenage vampire romance series could be even more dreary? Only when it's Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer directing it. Yup the same duo who gave us the horrendous spoof like Disaster Movie and Meet the Spartans.

There are far more inventive and funny online spoofs of the Twilight franchise. This movie actually made me want to watch New Moon or Eclipse instead.


Phua Chu Kang the Movie - I don't remember the iconic Singapore Ah Beng (uncouth) renovator Phua Chu Kang being that bad when it was still a Singapore sitcom.

How did it became so juvenile, crude and unfunny? Phua Chu Kang the Movie is filled with tired old gags that are executed horribly bad that it's hard to even chuckle at them. There's also the juvenile Hokkien shouting match between Phua Chu Kang and Frankie Foo that goes on thru out the movie. It makes me forgot that there's a plot involving Phua Chu Kang's mom visiting them in Malaysia and some plotline about renovating an old folks home.

I would recommend that you pick up PCK the Singapore Television series instead. Never seen so much local talents wasted in such horrible manner.

I feel so bloated from bad scripting

City Under Siege - It seemed that the director's focus was on the special effects and came out with a meandering script that lacks any real motivation for the protagonist and villain. Resulting with the protagonist and villain stumbling upon a power source that turned them into superpower mutants. Literally floats the protagonist around and leaving the villain without any real objective to achieve. The awkwardly patch them together for a predictable finale.

Ironically the special effects ain't that great either and the best bit would be Aaron Kwok clowning around.

Clash of the Titians, Future X-Cops & District 13: Ultimatum - Their original story wasn't that great but CotT made it's mark in the movie special effects history and FXC / D13U were fun in their own rights. These remakes / reboots / sequel were a dismay bunch. While the original CotT modify it's tale from the mythology, this CotT mutated it into something that just sucks. Future X-Cops lacked the predecessor's star powers and all the real fun had been squeezed out for the China market. D13U is so weak and bland with it's storyline that it made the original one look like it's a work of genius. Even the free running stunts felt less impressive.

Valentine's DayHot Summer Days - Love Actually wannabes with all the stars but none of the sizzle. A blatant effort in cashing in on the celebrities' popularity and weak effort in creating a story segment that works. Watching a rerun of Love Actually would actually be more engaging when it comes to pulling heartstrings.

I Hate Valentine's Day - Is about Genevieve Gernier (Nia Vardalos) and her stupid crazy idea of dating the opposite sex for only 5 times so that the romance will not ends with miserable breakup. The movie played out in a formulaic and tired fashion. It's also laden with unfunny comedic elements and Nia Vardalos' acting which consist largely of  one smiley expression.
I Hate Valentine's Day just reeks of desperation that Nia Vardalos was trying to recapture the success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding to prove that she is not a one hit wonder. I Hate Valentine's Day just reaffirm that her My Big Fat Greek Wedding might just be a fluke afterall.

Legion - is the perfect example of how to think small when approaching the grand ideas of conflicts between God, Angels and other Demonic creatures. There's potential in the setup for Legion. An angel go against God to protect a special unborn child and the all important battle take place at a diner located at the edge of a desert with the remaining few survivors who are taking a stand with the fallen angel.

Getting an entry here means that somehow this movie managed to squander off it's potential. Legion is reduced to nothing more than a shoot'em up flick of people taking on angels and demons.

Or perhaps the movie's only concern was how to create as many supernatural special effects fights as they could on a limited budget. But then again, the special effects didn't really make much of an impression and the story impressively bland.

and the other movies that made me wanna bolt out of the cinema in 2010 were Armored, My Ex & Enthiran

That's all folks ... See you at the movies in 2011

Singapore Release Dates for Movies ( 2010 )

Here the list of movies that were released in 2010
30th Dec - 5th Jan 2011
  • The Tourist
  • A Better Tomorrow ( Korean ) 
  • Freakconomics [ Exclusively @ Golden Village ]
  • Let the Bullets Fly ( Mandarin ) [ Exclusively @ Golden Village ]
  • Just Call Me Nobody ( Mandarin )

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Saw 3D [ Movie Review ] ***

In the 7th installment, there's basically two stories going on at the same time. The main story would be on Bobby Dagen, a man who claimed that he is a JigSaw game survivor and learned to embrace his life more after the traumatic experience. His book made him famous and he started reaching out to the other survivors. Obviously that didn't please Jigsaw and soon, Bobby Dagen found himself "back" in the games. This time, it's a series of games which he must accomplish to save his colleagues and his wife.

Meanwhile, Jill Tuck (Jigsaw's ex wife) is trying to escape from the latest Jigsaw killer. After the incident in the previous movie, she seeks help from the police and the Jigsaw is trying to find ways to kill her. The thing is that his identity had been revealed to the police and he could no longer use the perks of being a police detective to achieve his mission as Jigsaw.

The thing about this installment would be that it's a last ditch effort to regain the high turnover at the box office as the previous five movies did. To entice the audience, the filmmakers are throwing in the 3D gimmick and removing the 7th from the movie title, hopping that unsuspecting folks might just get the tickets without knowing that there's a long history.

Bad news for those unsuspecting folks cause the whole Jill Tuck's story arc is somewhat rooted in what went on during the first 6 movies subplots. To understand why the latest Jigsaw is so hellbent on killing Jill Tuck, you need to know what happened in the climatic finale of Saw 6. Then there's the return of Dr Gordon, a character from the 1st Saw movie that had not appeared since then.

Fans of this series might be disappointed too. The return of Dr Gordon felt like an awkward insertion to the storyline. Not much is done on the part that he play in this franchise except the possibilities of expanding this series further with the involvement of this character. If fans had embrace the previous retcon (Retoactive Continuity) as a mean to deepen the series mythos, the retcon of Dr Gordon just felt rather repetitive and tedious.

Similarly Bobby Dagen's journey felt like what happened with the main "victim" of Saw 6 and Saw 3. One solo guy going through a series of sadistic tests to save others who are trapped in deadly contraption. It's all been done before and in more interesting fashion.

If this is the final chapter to the Saw franchise, then the series had ended not with a bang but a whimper.  There are still some open threads ways that would allow another sequel to be made but it would take a movie with a calibre of the 6th movie to make the Saw franchise interesting again.

Ironically the director of Saw 3D is the same as Saw 6. It just make one wonder how did he did such a bland job out of it. Perhaps he is still unhappy about being pulled off from Paranormal Activities 2 to direct this movie. Or perhaps the 3D technology took time away from crafting a stronger story (refer to Saw 6). Or even perhaps the script was that weak that the director couldn't do much to savage it. There might be hope that a Saw VIII might give the Saw franchise a proper finale but given the poor box office collection, that unlikely to happen. It's just a pity that the series would end with such an average installment.

Was it worth the 3D price?

There's some gimmicky 3D tricks of having some body parts and blood flying towards the audience. It was more comical than gruesome. The depth of field is nothing worth mentioning and watching this movie without the 3D gimmick would have been better. In fact  Instead of making it 3D, more effort could have spent on making this one heck of a finale. Save that extra 3 bucks.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Go Find a Psychic! | 曲がれ!スプーン [ Movie Review ] *** 1/2

Go find a psychic is literally about a lady quest for a real psychic. Yone Sakurai (Masami Nagasawa)  happened to work in a television program about people with psychic ability and most of them turned out to be fake wannabes seeking their 15 minutes of fame. While her colleagues are probably just concerned about program ratings, she is one individual with a strong conviction on the mysterious and unexplained phenomena.  Her boss used her strong conviction and sent her on a trip all over Japan to find a real psychic (or phenomenon).

Meanwhile, in a cafe, a group of individual with different psychic abilities gathered for a small private party. Unlike the fake wannabes, this group of people with real special capabilities want nothing to do with the media, specially the psychic program show that Yone Sakurai works for. Their party was crashed by a wannabe and the enthusiastic group of special folks unwittingly revealed their power to the wannabe.

While the special psychics are trying hard to protect their secrets, Yone Sakurai entered the cafe to interview this wannabe. To escalate events, one of psychic with X Ray vision discovers that there's a poisonous spider (from the previous wannabe) in her name card holder. In order to save her, the psychics took turns with their special abilities to remove the name card holder from her pocket.

That the whole crux of this movie. Will they be able to help her without revealing their secrets?

On the whole, Go Find a Psychic! has a Japanese Christmas telemovie / television series feel to it. The camera work, the events, the actors's performance and even the gags weren't spectacularly cinematic. However it brought up a good point on what people will do if they have special powers. It was also rather amusing to see how these psychics draw the line on what they would use their power for and the limits of their power.

Moreover it also instill the belief of holding onto one's faith no matter how strange they might be. That and the Santa gag made this movie seemed just right for the Christmas season.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

TRON: Legacy [ Movie Review ] ***

After 28 years, the sequel to the cult favorite TRON is finally making it's way to the screens. Like all computer programs, it's getting a makeover with an update on the visual and special effects. But can TRON: Legacy change the track record of the previous TRON's box office collection and attracts both the old and new fans? Can it modify the story into something more accessible for the casual viewers to appreciate or even make the story better than it's predecessor?

This time round, TRON Legacy is basically about a son's search for his dad in the digital world of the Grid. Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), the hero from the original TRON had suddenly gone missing. "Abandoning" his son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) for many years, the story starts when his friend Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) suddenly received a page from Flynn's Arcade that had been closed for years. Initially reluctant, Sam finally visited the abandoned arcade to investigate the source of the page. After fiddling around with arcade games, Sam discovered a secret passage to his dad's workplace and accidentally activated the teleporter that digitize / teleport him into the Grid.

Upon arrival, Sam was quickly captured and sent to play the deadly games. Using his survival skills, wits and an unexpected aid from a pretty warrior (Olivia Wilde), Sam managed to escape the games and is reunited with his dad. It turned out that this time round, its' Kevin's program CLU ( a younger Jeff Bridge ~ the power of movie magic) that's up to no good. Entrapping Sam and keeping Kevin stranded in the digital world, CLU is planning to use the trapped father and son to carry his sinister plan.

Without a doubt, the biggest draw for Tron Legacy would be the update on the visual feast (special effects and costume / set design) and Draft Punk's contribution to the movie soundtrack. The blazing disc war and lightcycles were constructed to wow. It's well worth the ticket money to see how the world of Tron has been stylishly fabricated for the 21st century.

Another unexpected highlight would be how Tron Legacy play up the reunion between father and son.   The setup for the separation between Sam and Kevin didn't feel like a tedious wait before the good time (in the Grid) could start rolling. In fact, it was well handled and well acted by the duo that the audience could relate to their longing for each other without the need of overdoing it.

Dude, I'm not your Father

Tron Legacy pays plenty of homage to the original flick. From reusing the CLU character as the main villain to Sam making the similar remark as his dad did to a very big door, this movie is filled with nods to what had came before. But after a while, it started to feel more like a reboot than an actual sequel.

Such as the obligatory disc war, lightcycles, escaping from the Grid and the restarting the source were the very same path that Kevin had taken in the original TRON. Although various elements had changed, it make one wonder why doesn't TRON Legacy branch out more as a story of it's own.

Even the flawed story in the first TRON didn't get much update in the second TRON movie. While the first one was rather inaccessible to the casual viewers, the second one had a storyline that's too convenient. Just when our heroes are clueless on what to do next, a Solar Sailer appears right beside them to take them where the story wants them to be. It also mind boggling to know that Sam arrival into the Grid was a trap by CLU and yet Sam had to go through dangerous games that could end his life. If CLU was being a wise tactician, the script certainly didn't make that aspect shine.

With a tagline that declared The Game Has Changed, it make one wonder did the sequel really change much from what had already been established in the first movie. Beside the change in players / user, a little modification here and there, Tron Legacy is basically a rehash of prominent events that occurred in the original film. It's pretty to look at but without a good story, TRON Legacy ends up looking like a beautiful vase.

Worth the 3D price?

Like many other recent blockbuster movies, TRON: Legacy is presented in 3D. The only thing I could get out of this 3D presentation was the depth of field and the diminishing gradient. It's a pity as it marred my enjoyment of watching all the impressive visual and special effects in their full glory.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Confessions 告白 [ Movie Review ] ****

Every once in a while, a truly disturbing movie comes our way and stayed etched in the minds long after the end credits roll off. Similar to Battle Royale, Confessions used an extreme scenario to highlight and reflect certain issues in our society (or at least perhaps in the Japanese society). It's tense, dark and unflinching movie that grip hold of you tightly right from the start. It also used an innovative flashbacks method to tell the story.  Last but not least, the beautiful cinematography creates just the right type of moody setting and it was nothing less than a visual treat.

But the most satisfying bit about Confessions would be how it dealt with the effective ways of punishing someone who is truly apathetic to his wrongdoing and almost everything else in the world.

Confessions started with a middle school teacher Yoko Moriguchi (Takako Matsu) and her rowdy students. She informed them that her teaching life is coming to an end as her four year old daughter had died from a pool accident. After doing some investigation, she had discovered that her daughter was murdered by two of her students. Identifying them only as student A and student B, Moriguchi revealed that even after learning the shocking truth, she won't be going to the police as due to their age, student A and student B won't be prosecuted by the criminal law. Through the teacher's detailed recounting of what had transpired, the class managed to guess the identity of Student A and B. In a eerily calm and collected manner, she ended her class by informing the class that among the packs of milk that the class had just drank, she had tainted two of them with blood containing HIV.

Usually, such unexpected and surprising revelation would be reserved till the end of a vengeance movie and used as a climax twist or punch to the revenge tale. But in Confessions, this is just an intense wrap up for the introduction arc.

The class started to dish out their brand of punishment on Student A and B. While Student A managed to endure the nightmarish bullying, Student B went crazy and stayed away from school. On the surface, it seemed that the two kids had received their punishment for their atrocities but as the story slowly revealed more shocking truth behind the initial revelation. From the confessions of the class rep, student A and B, we discovered their thought process and the actual motivation behind the horrible murder. It's just bone chilling to learn what the kids truly felt about the whole incident and they are so wrapped up in their own selfish thinkings.

Besides the dynamic tension between the teacher and the students, the film also explored the issues between a child and their mother. On one hand, it cover how the lack of motherly love could fractured a child's growth and on the other hand, it also show how smothering one child could be equally damaging. It's on the extreme bits but somehow these scenarios are heart wrenching to watch.

Beyond the Movie

  • Confessions 告白 is Japan's candidate for the upcoming Oscar Best Foreign Language Film.
  • Was Top of Japan Box Office for 4 weeks in a row.
  • Confessions 告白 made it through the 1st Oscar Best Foreign Language Film nomination round. ( as of 20th Jan 2011)
  • Confessions 告白 is now officially out of the race for Oscar Best Foreign Language Film (as of 26th Jan 2011)
  • Confessions 告白 won 4 awards at the 34th Japan Academy (as of 18th Feb 2011)
  • Picture of the Year: Kokuhaku
  • Director of the Year: Tetsuya Nakashima
  • Screenplay of the Year: Tetsuya Nakashima
  • Outstanding Achievement in Film Editing: Yoshiyuki Koike

    Tuesday, November 30, 2010

    The Haunted House Project | 폐가 [ Movie Review ] **

    Blair Witch Project ~ Kimchi Style
    The Haunted "Insert you choice of residence" movie is a popular horror film choice. Especially in Asia film industry where you can easily find a handful movies that use their location as the horror device. Needless to say, it's already a very overdone horror genre. In order to "differentiate " itself from it's Asian peers, The Haunted House Project took the Blair Witch Project way.

    Ironically it does not "differentiate" itself too much from the Shaky Cam genre that The Blair Witch Project had established many many years ago.

    Like many Shaky Cam horror genre, there will the initial setup of how a tape was found from a haunted venue and we are viewing what had happened horribly to some folks with a videocam. In The Haunted House Project, we get a group of six (a producer, a cameraman, a sound woman and three members from a Korean paranormal online club) investigating the haunting of one infamous location.

    Rumor has it that this haunted premise has a horrible past. A successful businessman was caught having affair and it was said that the wife killed her husband lover. Dumping her in a pool nearby their factory, the ghost of the lover came back to massacre the couple and their kids. Ever since then, residents had reported weird sightings at that location. Authorities tried unsuccessfully to clear the pool. The place remained unsold and avoided until this group of six decided to venture in for some spooky adventure.

    The problem with this type of shaky cam horror movies would be that it has a very rigid structure to follow and it can get rather boring (not to mention un-cinematic to watch) if you have your fair share of shaky cam horror movies. Since we are watching a tape that found at the haunted house, it's quite obvious that no one will be making it out alive. The victims can't die too soon as the panic mode (or I call it the shaky ground / feet shots) will occur and viewers won't be able to see much. Therefore we get the introduction, the exploration and the occasion spooks (which would not result in any fatality) to fill up the bulk of the movie.

    Another problem with a Shaky Cam film would be the aspect of incorporating realism of an actual documentary filming gone bad. It made a mistake of adding mosaic effects to cover up possibly  objectionable images. Now while you can do it with a editing software, I am pretty sure that up to today, there isn't one videocam that could mosaic certain portion of the film so nicely (as it did in the film).

    But then again, it's not that bad. The "scare a min" tactic in this film was quite well done and timed to get the maximum spook from audience. The comeuppance for this intruders were fun to watch but it's too late and too short to make it more enjoyable. There were also a few eye candies in the cast that helped make following the major bulk of this movie less dreadful.

    Perhaps it's a personal dislike for this type of movies making. Using realism as an excuse, it's a cheap way of making money. Just find a remote location, a bunch of unknown actors and some camera tricks, you get a cheaply made horror flick that could rake in lots of money. In today's youtube generation that are accustom to such video would probably have no problem with it or even embrace it. There will also be fans of horror genre and this type of filming that have no problems lapping this up. For me, the novelty factor of Shaky Cam had worn off since the Blair Witch Project and REC and should be put to rest soon (that is unless they managed to find some ways to break this mold).

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    Skyline [ Movie Review ] ***

    In the midst of a potential lawsuit from Sony and a barrage of thumb downs from movie critics ( and other disgruntled movie viewers with a imdb account), Skyline has finally arrived. Going with low expectation, Skyline wasn't as bad as one would expect. It's not the best alien invasion flicks around but frankly Skyline wasn't that bad afterall.

    Much like Cloverfield, we follow a bunch of young adults experiencing a sudden attack by unknown creatures in a city. We get a glimpse of their relationship matters, their future hopes and worries. Then out of the blue, they get a rude awakening that their lives are going to be changed drastically. In Skyline, it's the blue lights from outer spaceships sucking up humans by the thousands.

    Instead of running around a city that's torn by monsters, the folks in a skyscraper apartment had the dilemma of choosing whether to escape from the building that they are in or stay put while trying to hide the constant alien abduction.

    There's been complains about the lack of character development, the horrible dialogues, the storyline and the far-fetched ending. It's going to vary from one person viewpoint from another but personally, I find it hard to agree with most of the complains (found @ imdb).

    Skyline is about a group of people stuck in a building. They are facing a sudden doomsday scenario and the movie is basically about them making decisions with little idea on what's going on. The movie did enough by presenting us with a little background information about this group of people and even though it's slightly one dimension, it was enough to proceed on with the story. To care or not to care for these characters are up to individual's preference and personally, while they are not going to be my favorite movie character, the function well enough to move the story forward.

    Then there's the complains about the dialogues being cheesy, unoriginal and badly written. As again, Skyline is not trying to win award for scriptwriting. It's not deep or impressive but it does well to convey the sense of emotions that the characters are going through. One complain highlighted that the group actually said "run" when they were attacked by a big alien and I wonder why isn't it possible? It felt pretty real to me. When tentacles are zooming in to capture you and you are running for your safety, wouldn't you yell something to make your group move a little faster?

    Last but not least, there's been complains about the storyline and the ending of Skyline. Most of the complains are aimed at how the folks are stuck in the apartment and the story going in circles (while showing off their special effects) that seems to be heading nowhere but the seemly inevitable doom. Personally, that's the point of Skyline. It's about a group of everyday people stuck in a situation that the odds seems to be overwhelmingly stacked against them. It put you in their shoes and make you consider what would you do if you are faced with such scenario. The prolongation of them stuck in the high-rise apartment works (beside obviously for the budget aspect) in ways that it helps to create the sense of dreariness and difficulties of leaving the safety zone. It also shows that in such dire and hopeless moments, humans would do it's utmost to stay alive.

    The ending wasn't everyone's cup of tea. Some finds it comical while others find it downright silly. It's a little bit too convenient like Independence Day and it bears some resemblance to District 9 but in a gloomy film like Skyline, it offers a refreshing sense of hope for the characters. It also reveal the ambitious goals of the filmmakers who planned a series of films / tv projects from this movie. The odds are against them now since the box office collection didn't do that well and the response from the viewers are mostly unfavorable.

    Let's put it this way, Skyline won't be a District 9 but that doesn't mean it's not entertaining. The thumb downs that it had been receiving felt unfair. The relatively unknown actors did well with a script that could use a bit of polishing. The special effects weren't that spectacular but with the budget of an independent filmmaker, it was impressive enough to pass as a major studio. Recommended.

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Adele: Rise of the Mummy | Les Aventures Extraordinaires d'Adèle Blanc-Sec [ Movie Review ] ★★★

    the Extraordinary Adventures and the Rise of the Mummy
    The Singapore / Malaysia title for "The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec" is rather misleading. Specially when you viewed the trailer (attached below), you might think that Adèle: Rise of the Mummy is one action packed Indiana Jones type of movies with the protagonist taking on mummified human corpses and pterosaurs. Going in with such expectation would probably result in disappointment. 

    That's not to say that Adèle: Rise of the Mummy is a lousy movie. It not so much about the rising of Mummy but the extraordinary adventures of one rather feisty unrelenting and resourceful lady.

    Set in Paris 1912,  A pterodactyl egg in the museum has been magically hatched through the mental power of Professor Esperandieu and is wreaking havoc in the city. News of this occurrence became the newspaper headlines and the authorities are "pressured" to solve this case soon.

    In the meanwhile, Adèle Blanc-Sec (Louise Bourgoin) is "raiding tomb" in Egypt like a female counterpart of Indiana Jones (more dainty but equally venturesome). She is seeking a mummified Pharaoh's doctor to cure her sister. To complete her quest. she required Professor Esperandieu'e supernatural gift and upon returning to France, she found out that he is mystically linked to the pterodactyl and has been sentenced to death for his involvement. The relentless Adèle then set off to rescue the Professor before it's too late for her sister.

    The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is so whimsically imaginative that it's hard to guess what going to happen next (nor would you want to). One moment, it's poking fun of police incompetence and the next, it's mystifying with weird occult-like science. Just when you think you get what this show is about, it breaks into action sequences like an Indiana Jones movie or delve into sappy romance.

    It's not going to fit into the mold of your usual Mummy movies. It's a mix of Amelie and the Fifth Element. Splendid entertainment with rich imagination and attitude that should sit well with folks that are looking for something unusual. Recommended.

    Beyond the Movie

    There are some warnings that you should heed before getting your ticket(s) for this movie in Singapore. Most theaters are showing it in English dubbing (with Chinese subtitles). Those folks who did the dubbing did make some effort to convey the emotions of the characters but ultimately, it's just not the right way to watch a movie. The dubbing does not even match the lip movements of the actor and it felt that the soul of the characters had somehow been robbed.

    But thankfully, the distributor had decided to bring a print of Adele: Rise of the Mummy in it's original language and the only place you can catch it in French (with English subtitles) would be at The Cathay Cineplex (the one at Handy Road). For your ultimate enjoyment of this movie, I would recommend you to catch it at The Cathay.

    Last but not least, we managed to spot one scene that was awkwardly cut from the movie. It happened to be one of the stills that was featured on the official website. Don't seemed too raunchy to me but I guess it might incur a highly censorship rating if left intact. Anyway gawk at it while you can.
    You won't be seeing me smoking in a tub in Singapore Cinema
    Oh wait. There's a coda inserted at the End Credits. So don't rush out once the credits start rolling.

    Movie: ***
    megaupload rapidshare fileserve bit torrent srt sub subtitle free download

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    The Incite Mill - 7 Day Death Game | インシテミル 7日間のデス・ゲーム [ Movie Review ] **1/2

    The premise for The Incite Mill sound like a blend of Battle Royale and Liar Game The Final Stage. Like Liar Game The Final Stage, this group of people stands to win a huge amount of easy money by following very simple instructions while being confined in a enclosed place. Similar to Battle Royale, they soon discovered that they have been duped into a treacherous survival game and they are each given a unique weapon to participate in this game. While having similar concepts, The Incite Mill was nowhere as controversial nor suspenseful. It's so ridden with loopholes and poor characterization that it's hard to stay engage with the plot and character.

    It started with ten people from various walks of life taking part in a short term job in a remote complex that pays extremely well. The job requires them to be monitored 24 hours for 7 days in a psychological experiment. They are each given a room and few simple instructions. The first instruction would be to return to their room by 10pm and the second instruction would be by the 7th day or when there are only two surviving members left alive, the experiment will come to an end.

    If a murder is committed, a member of the group could deduce who the killer is and with the support from the rest of the group, the killer will be put away. In a sick twist to incite the players into murderous behavior, the detective, the deceased and the "convicted" murderer will all get a bonus sum of money. They also realize that in their individual rooms, a different weapon is planted to aid them in this psychological experiment. The next day, they discovered a dead body at the corridor and their cushy job has turned into a horrifying job.

    What went wrong for The Incite Mill?

    Head Squeeze!
    First of all, it didn't make it a convincing argument that this experiment would incite someone to actually murder another person. Money baits and dubious characters were thrown into the mix but the movie lack the screen time and effort to effectively draw out the fractured personality of a person that would behave in such way. Contrasting this movie with the movie Cube (which handle proximity paranoia well), the latter had the captives thrown into enclosed maze without giving them the reason why or how they will be able to get out. In this movie, the participants were aware that they were monitored and it will only be 7 days before they are re-release back to normal life. Would anyone resort to killing his or her fellow participant? It's just seemed so unlikely and the film did very little to validate the murderer's motivation.

    The second problem with the show would be how the rules were forgotten as the movie progressed. For every murder, someone in the group was supposed to figure out who was the murderer with the rest voting on that deduction. But after the first murder, this deduction and judgment process was conveniently forgotten until the plot awkwardly requires it again. 
    There are the twists that were added into the climatic finale which felt pointless and bland. Such as the live streaming of the murders which was last seen in Untraceable. The issue of taking pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others seemed clumsily inserted and does nothing to incite emotion from viewers.

    As a whodunit thriller, The Incite Mill would work if the viewer would not question the flawed plot devices and simply accept the movie for what it is. In the midst of movies with similar themes that were released recently (Kaiji the Ultimate Gambler and Liar Game the Final Stage), this movie pale in comparison in deploying witty games that intrigue and challenge the viewers. It also failed to create the doomed atmosphere in movies like Battle Royale and Cube that will draw out the primitive instinct to survive. It's a pity because this movie had potential and was a page turner until climatic revelation which turned out to be rather disappointing.

    Movie: ** 1/2

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Drag Me To Hell [ Dvd Review ] ***

    The plot device for Drag Me to Hell has always sound illogical and silly to me. Why should a loan officer be cursed with such deadly curse for rejecting a loan extension. It's not exactly her fault even though she did it for the sake of a potential promotion. The old lady already had two loan extension and it makes one wonder if she is so powerful to make such an awful curse, why didn't she used some of her power for her own financial management?

    It just didn't sound right or logical even in a supernatural way.

    Further more, this is more or less haunting of one person, it's kinda obvious that harm couldn't happen to her for the main bulk of the movie. It make the whole haunting experience for 3 days seemed a little pointless. Why is the demon toying with her and not drag her soul to hell sooner?

    Nevertheless, Drag Me to Hell wasn't that bad afterall. In fact, it was quite an entertaining horror with a certain 80s feel to it. It didn't take itself too seriously and surprisingly, the over the top haunting were far more humorous than scary.

    Although the start up for the plot still feels rather silly to me, I liked the remedy of the curse. It reminded me of Robert Louis Stevenson's the Bottle Imp in which they tried to give away the bottle that will doomed the owner to eternal hell. The dilemma that comes in choosing who to pass the curse on and the knowledge that you send that certain person to horrible fate was intriguing to watch.

    Last but not least, the unflinching ballsy twisty ending was rather enjoyable. Although it was pretty obvious what's going to happen (specially if you have seen movies like the Ring), it's going to be one of the more memorable endings in recent Hollywood horror movies.

    Movie: ***

    Dvd Extras [ Code 1 ]

    Unrated & Theatrical Version - After watching the Unrated version and skimping through the Theatrical Version, there isn't any radically different scenes or alternate take of the movie. The Unrated version simply show more details and spent more time in the gory factors.

    For a more detailed take on the differences between the two edition, check out Movie-Censorship's page for Drag Me to Hell

    Production Video Diaries - Basically segments of the "making of". Covering the behind the scenes for sequences like The Bloody Nose and the Nightmare. There are some segments that cover the actors / characters profile but the more interesting bits of the Production Video Diaries would be how the special effects were done for the supernatural scenes.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Sunshine [ Quote ]

    At the end of time, a moment will come when just one man remains.

    Then the moment will pass. Man will be gone.
    There will be nothing to show that we were ever here... but stardust.


    Friday, October 22, 2010

    AV [ Dvd Review ] *** 1/2

    The gist of Edmond Pang's AV would be four Hong Kong university students attempting to have sex with a Japanese porn star through the guise of making an actual movie.

    But yet ironically AV is about many other things and not so much on the original pitch. In fact there is so little depth on the sexual content that it's understandable why it gotten a IIb rating (Not suitable for Young Persons) instead of a Category 3 rating (Person aged 18 and above only). But the again AV excel in those many things that one could easily forget all about the gimmicky pitch and enjoyed what this AV have to provide.

    It all started when one of their friends Lok faked a film production to make out with a girl. He was sacked from his university but that tactic inspired a bunch of friends to push the envelope further. The four of them decided to get funding and hire one of the popular Japanese AV actress  over and have sex with her while pretending to be making a movie. Numerous humorous cock up started to pile up in their way as they chase after the ultimate dream of most men ~ sex with a Japanese porn star!

    The most entertaining aspect of AV was ironically not about the sex bits. It was the fooling among friends and the crude sex jokes that they shared or used at each other. It's the weird and funny obstacles that get thrown in their ways and how they overcome it. In the midst of chasing their dream, AV touches on doing something meaningful and audacious in their youth so that there won't be any regrets later on in life.

    Then there are the tender moments in AV that makes one wonder if it's possible to fall in love with a porn star actress. It's a interesting take as while most people around the world view the porn career as a demeaning job, a significant  portion of the Japanese population don't see it that way. In fact, it seemed to be gaining popularity with the young female Japanese as some of the Japanese porn star do branch out to mainstream media career.

    One of the nice moment here was the allusion on how ultimately porn star are there to sell a fantasy to the end user. It came rather unexpected but sometimes beneath the cutesy lovable facade lies something totally different.

    Well that's what you get from a Edmond Pang movie. Interesting novel concepts with boisterous humour and tender moments of love in the most unexpected fashion.

    Film: 3 1/2 out of 5 Stars

    DVD Extra

    When it comes to Edmond Pang movie on a dvd, you will bound to find at least some sort of extra feature in the Dvd. It varies from company that release his movie but you will get at least a commentary and making off segment. It's pretty rare as generally Hong Kong movies don't get so much extra effort put in for their dvds. What make it even better would be that it contain English subtitles for most of the extra segments and that's something that even the English friendly Korean Dvds don't normally do.

    Disc 1

    Director's statement - The Director's Statement comes in both Mandarin and English text. It covers the genesis for this AV movie and what was the inspiration for his movie. Who would expect that director Chen Kaige would have "something" to do with this movie.

    Making of "AV" - Presented as "AV news" that follow Amamiya Manami to Hong Kong for her participation in this movie. It even tried to authenticated this "AV news" with a "Japanese" host speaking in Japanese and was dubbed over by a Cantonese narrator. There are plenty amusing moments in this segment. Specially on how they poke fun at the director for being just a little horny and the rest of the cast complaining about the first guy who got to make out with the female star.

    Secret message from Amamiya Manami -

    The not so secret video recording contains Amamiya Manami's monologue at the start and end of the movie. She also left two other video message for the director and cast. It's hard to believe someone so Kawaii (cute) and lively was a porn star.

    Theatrical trailers and TV spots - One trailer and one tv spot for this movie. The second segment contains certain video scenes that is not in the movie.

    Data Bank - Contain information on the Cast and crew profiles (in Mandarin) and the Synopsis (in both Mandarin and English)

    Photo gallery - Automated sideshow of the cast during the film shoot. Comes with a soothing soundtrack to reminisce the video from a different angle.

    Disc 2

    Video commentary by Director and Cast - Why do a commentary when you could do a Video commentary. This video commentary works as the camaraderie between the director and the main cast made it fun to watch their lively bantering about the movie and stuff beyond it.

    It turned out that the story of Kar Lok using film making as an excuse to make out with a girl was based upon a true life incident. They even point out that the actual Kar Lok played a part in the movie and his tale is well known in the Hong Kong film industry.

    They even touch on censorship rules in Hong Kong and how the tight film schedule for AV made it impossible for Amamiya Manami to bid farewell to the rest of the crew before rushing for her flight back to Japan. There's plenty of interesting film making information and other amusing stuff that happened during the making of this movie. Not to be missed if you enjoyed the movie or if you are a fan of Hong Kong movies.

    Deleted scenes - contain 9 mins + of certain additional, alternate and extended scenes that didn't make it to the final cut. The absence of English subtitles in this segment make it impossible to understand certain scenes that's converse in Japanese (unless you understand Japanese). The most amusing bit would be Amamiya Manami consoling the guys for their inability to perform the sex scenes and various snide remarks from the crew.

    NG footage - A handful of NG footages that ended with an extra long making out scene with Amamiya Manami.

    Beyond the Movie

    Now for some updated AV News ... FilmsBlitz style

    Amamiya Manami has retired (or Graduated as they like to say in Japan) from the Japanese Adult Video (JAV) industry back in 2008. As far as my research could find out, she was actually a newcomer in the JAV industry (with only 1 or 2 titles under her belt) prior to the making of this AV in 2005. Later on in her career, she signed up with one of the major and popular JAV company, S1 and stayed there till her final video. Some fans expressed joy that she didn't end her career with companies that are much more hardcore and degrading (yes ... even in the porn industry standard, there's a degree of debauchery) as many Japanese porn stars did with their twilight career.

    For Folks in Singapore

    With the new M18 & NC 16 rating dvds out for rental, you could borrow this Dvd and many other goodies at the library@esplanade.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Perfect Wedding | 抱抱俏佳人 [ Movie Review ] *** 1/2

    For the uninitiated, Perfect Wedding might sound like a romantic comedy on the trials and tribulation for a couple preparing their perfect wedding. It felt like a dodgy film project that funded by bridal shops with lots of not so subtle product placements.

    Then there's the apparent mismatch with Miriam Yeung and Raymond Lam as a couple. To make matters worse, Miriam Yeung had already been romancing a younger co star earlier this year (Love in a Puff) and it makes one wonder how many more movies will Miriam Yeung be pair up with a younger male co-star.

    But surprise surprise, Perfect Wedding turned out to an unexpected delight.

    Instead of a build up to the perfect wedding, Perfect Wedding was actually all about a 30 + successful wedding planner Yan (Miriam Yeung) and her unsuccessful love life. After hooking up with a young attorney Fung (Raymond Lam), their passionate one night stand unwittingly became a working relationship when Fung's boss owed Yan 30 wedding officiants duties and had left Hong Kong. As Yan and Fung worked together to help various couples' with their idealized wedding, their own romance started to blossom.

    But their journey to marital bliss were besieged by various issues and people around them. Yan was still troubled by the fact that her previous boyfriend left her at the altar. She was plagued with worries on their May–December romance and lacks the confidence to come clean with their relationship in front of her friends and co workers. Fung frustrated by Yan's inability to be upfront with their relationship, had unexpectedly found admiration from a very hot co worker (played by the very hot Chrissie Chau).

    It's a fairly predictable plotline and not exactly well executed but what really shine for Perfect Wedding was the actors performance, the witty dialogues and the comedic timing.

    Miriam Yeung and Raymond Lam were charming and engaging in their respective roles. It's easy to feel happy and sad for them as they go through their ups and downs. Their age disparity was acknowledged and worked well into the story to sell the concept of them being lovers. It's easy to feel their disappointment and confusion as they tackle various obstacles that set them apart.

    Beside that, they are backed by comedic veterans like Teresa Mo and Eric Kot with hotties like Bernice Liu, Chrissie Chau and Kate Tsui. The supporting cast provides the additional witty humour and eye candy that made Perfect Wedding even more enjoyable.

    Though the humorous bantering between characters would have been better appreciated in Cantonese soundtracks, the Mandarin dialogue was piercing enough to bring out the good o' sidesplitting Hong Kong sarcasm. It's fast and unadulterated Hong Kong humour that bring back the times before Hong Kong movie started to cater to the China market.

    Last but not least, the comedic timing to capture the cast performance and the witty dialogue. This is the hardest part and it varies from individual perception. If a sequence is cut too late or placed at a wrong angle, the comedic feel might come off differently. Perfect Wedding managed to do everything just right to capture the good vibe of the show and hits the sweet spot for laughter time after time.

    Perfect Wedding is one of those gems that comes along and unexpectedly sweep you off your feet. The blend of humor and heartfelt realism in relationship made this movie unforgettable and memorable. Can't wait to get my hands on the Cantonese version of this movie.

    Sunday, October 10, 2010

    Buried [ Movie Review ] *** 1/2

    Here is the million dollar question... Is it worth the ticket price to watch one actor stuck in a confine place for the entire length of one movie? Deprive of various elements that make up the usual movie, can Buried be entertaining while working in such confinement?

    The short answer is yes.

    The premise is simple. A man waking up in an enclosed place. Discovering that he had been placed there for million dollar ransom that's beyond his or his family capability to raise the money, he made calls to various authorities for help. The problem here lies in the difficulties in getting any real help when he is unaware of the location that he is buried.

    Right from the start, the film put the viewers into the shoes of Paul Conroy(Ryan Reynolds). Opening the shot in pure darkness. Confused and unsure of what's happening, the viewers slowly adapt to the situation as Paul Conroy starts to figure out his surrounding and the impending task. It was a slow start but as things start to unravel, there's plenty to keep the viewers on the edge of the seat.

    Such as the number 1 concern. Should Paul Conroy do exactly as his captive tells him to or should he seek help elsewhere. Then there are the last contact with love ones if things do go horribly wrong. There's hardly any dull moments as the filmmakers threw quite a few elements to keep the pace of the film movie. Impressively, they did it all within the confine of a coffin. Buried function well as a pure escapism for those who like to imagine the worst case scenario without actually having to personally go through such hellish experience.

    Would everyone enjoy this movie? I wouldn't think so. While walking out of the theater, I overheard a young lady telling her partner that it was a stupid show. It's the same type of respond that I had heard for Open Water. Perhaps it was the way that it had ended that does not appeal to everyone's requirement for a movie watching experience but hey, Buried is definitely not your usual movie. It's a slow boil but the movie will get increasing suspenseful and doesn't let up till the very last frame. Highly Recommended.

    Blade Runner [ Quote ]

    I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. 

    Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. 

    I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. 

    All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die.

    Roy Batty

    Welcome to FilmsBlitz...

    Welcome to my blog for movie reviews ...

    Why FilmsBlitz ?

    Because FilmBlitz had been taken. :) It was supposed to be called Moviemote but it sound pretty dead. FilmsBlitz sound more lively and aggressive. It just came to me, together with the tagline Assault Your Senses. It just gel and for the moment now, this will be it.

    I will review on the latest movie, taking a look back at old classic or even spotlighting the newsworthy trailers. This blog will be the place for me to update on what I thought was good or bad. It could be quotes from movie that speaks to me. Of course it's written in my perspective and whether it's manic or moronic, these will be my thoughts on movies.