Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Expendables [ Movie Review ] ★★

On paper, it seems to be a dream project for the fans of action movies from the 80s onwards. Just the mere names of Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger in a movie together would be enough to convince some of the movie fans to purchase a ticket for The Expendables. If it wasn't enough, the inclusion of Randy Couture (Mixed Martial Arts star), Terry Crews (former NFL star) and Steve Austin (WWE star) should send the movie's testosterone into overdrive mode.

But it's not the action movie that was expected from a collaboration of men with such caliber. It boils down to the issue of too many cooks spoil the broth. The Expendables had to take the time to give the numerous stars their screen time and that derails the build up for a good action movie.

Another problem would be that in a movie with so many macho manly stars and hardly any supporting acts to portrayal the weaker guys, it's really hard to define macho-ness the male star.

Then there the issue of having too many B grade actors in a movie. A B plus B does not equate to an A. In fact, the poor acting by the B grade actors actually made the movie even harder to sit through. Just imagine one B grade actor trying to top another B grade actor's act. Give me one action movie with one B grade actor will do.

All this problem mentioned above might have been solved if the script was stronger to accommodate all the stars and the director was more fitness in craving a good o action flick with a large ensemble. It has been done before with Dirty Dozen and the Ocean's Eleven series. The Expendables was simply not well made as an ensemble movie and the perceived excessive manliness cum Gung ho-ness of the old action movies felt rather subdued.

But it made enough money for a sequel and it's reportedly shopping for more male stars to join in the fray. Let's just hope that the folks who bought the movie tickets to The Expendables were not worn off by the novelty factor.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World [ Movie Review ] ★★

The Pitch

How do you bring in the element of smell into a cinematic experience? Robert Rodriguez will be attempting to do that with the latest installment of Spy Kids movies.

A Scratch & Sniff Card that allows the movie goers to smell the different aroma of the movie. Calling it the Aroma-Scope, movie goers will be able to enjoy the "fourth dimension" (hence 4D) of the movie.

It's a gimmicky trick to lure the targeted demographic into the cinemas but since the modern 3D movies are no longer a novelty, it's interesting to see what the Aroma-Scope has to offer. Let's not forget that Robert Rodriguez made Spy Kids 3 in 3D format before the modern 3D craze started. Who knows? Aroma-Scope might just be the next trend in gimmicky movies.

Disclaimer: Robert Rodriguez did not pioneer the use of Scratch & Sniff Card or 3D in a movie but for this reviewer, the usage of this two gimmicks on the Spy Kids franchise were the most memorable ones in movie history.

The Plot

Marissa (Jessica Alba) is a retired secret agent for the OSS (Organization of Super Spies). Her life now revolve around her step kids, a pair of twins named Rebecca and Cecil (Rowan Blanchard and Mason Cook) and her own baby girl. Her husband, Wilbur Wilson (Joel McHale) is a spy hunting reality television program host who is unaware that his wife was a top notch spy.

Their relatively uneventful life took a drastic change when the world is threatened by The Timekeeper and his goons. They speed up the time and soon everyone on Earth is running out of time. Marissa has been recalled back into action by the director of the OSS, Danger D'amo (Jeremy Piven). It turned out that the bad guys are after a red-sapphire necklace that Marissa had just (coincidentally) given it to Rebecca the night before. The Timekeeper are hunting the kids down and surprise surprise, the kids might not be as defenseless as they looked.

The Perspective  

Let's start by reviewing the usage of Aroma-Scope / Scratch n Sniff card as part of a movie watching experience. We were supposed to rub the respective number when prompted by the movie.

It wasn't impressive at all. The audio explanation for the Aroma-Scope could have been done with visual. Folks scratching with coin (which was what I did) might not get the smell the various distinct aroma as compared to those who sniff their thumb after rubbing those number.

Most of the aroma numbers smell like bubble gum and a couple smell like a nasty farty stink. It didn't really enhance the story telling process and served as nothing more than a gimmicky distraction. The aroma numbers didn't evenly spread out in this movie. The first two were evenly spread in the first half of the movie and the next three were squeezed into one scene with only the fifth aroma bearing a rather distinct citrus smell . The sixth aroma smell like cardboard and the seventh aroma gave the most nasty revelation. The very last one didn't make much sense with what going in the movie and smelled like the first two aroma.

I don't think this Aroma-scope would catch on. There are far too many complaints online that indicate it's not working for them. It didn't work that well for me and my movie partner either. All this checking for the right number and rubbing actually take time away from the screen. It's "fun" for novelty act but I wouldn't want to do this again for movie watching.

Aroma-Scope aside, Spy Kids 4: All the Time in the World marks the first time that I watched an installment of the Spy Kid franchise (or any of Robert Rodriguez's movies made specifically for kids). While there are kiddish movies that are made for both kids and adult,  Spy Kids 4: All the Time was made strictly for kids and it's a pissed poor "made for television kids channel" quality.

Predictable plotlines and cardboard characters, Spy Kids 4 just dragged on and on. The morale of spending quality time with love ones and the wordplay on time was repeatedly hammered into the audience. It became tiresome and draining. The intended effect to amuse with the puns for time became increasing unfunny as the movie progress. I actually felt sad for kids if this is how kids entertainment are supposed to be these days. 

If there's anything that was remotely entertaining, I would say that Ricky Gervais' a talking robot dog named Argonaut had a few funny lines. But for every funny line, there's a poo / fart gag line up to counter it. It's hard to imagine that the Robert Rodriguez who made movies like Sin City and Planet Terror could come up craps like this. I hope his kids will grow up soon and he would not have the excuse to make this type of movies for his kids anymore.

Worth the 3D price?

It's just as equally weak as the Aroma-scope card. Nothing really stood out in this 3D format. Even when it's a special effect laden scene. There are plenty of moments when one could view this movie without the 3D glasses. That's right, not much 3D in this movie at all.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Saw the Devil | 악마를 보았다

The Pitch

I Saw the Devil has been on my radar for a long time. I been wondering if this movie would be getting any cinematic release here in Singapore. The wait is finally over. I Saw the Devil will be shown from 15 Nov 2011 onwards at Cathay Cinemas (courtesy of Luna Films).

There are a couple of reasons why I want to see this movie.

Firstly, the violent content in this serial movie made the Korea Media Rating Board to force the director Kim Ji-woon to remove the objectionable materials before it's allowed theatrical release. Sound like it's going to be an unflinching movie that's what made Korean movies so great.

Besides having the potential to be a very well made torture porn, I Saw the Devil stars Lee Byun Hyun (A Bittersweet Life) and Choi Min-sk (Oldboy). Both of them had made some of the most engaging Korean movies in recent years. It would be a blast to see this two actors go against each other in this movie.

Then there's the collaboration between Lee Byun Hyun and director Kim Ji-woon. Both of them made A Bittersweet Life (my personal faveourite movie of all time) and The Good, the Bad the Weird. If I am not wrong, this would mark their third collaboration in movies and somehow, their collaboration had always brought something special onto the screen.

Last but not least, I Saw the Devil also marks the return of Choi Min-sk in Korean movies. He went into a self imposed exile from Korean movies to protest against the reduction of the Film Quota in South Korea back in 2006. Probably didn't work out as well as he had planned but I for one, am glad that he is coming back to Korean movies.

To sum it up, intriguing subject matter that was too much for the Korean censorship and two of the best Korean actors going head to head with each other, I Saw the Devil is on my must watch list*.

*That is hopping that Singapore Censorship Board won't cut (too much) of this movie.

The Plot

Kyung-chul (Choi Min-sk) is a dangerous psychopath who kills for pleasure. He has committed infernal serial murders in diabolic ways that one cannot even begin to imagine and his victims range from young women to even children. The police have been chasing him for a long time, but unable to catch him.

One day, Ju-yeon, daughter of a retired police chief, becomes his prey and is found dead in a horrific state.

Her fiancé Soo-hyun (Lee Byun Hyun), a top secret agent, decides to track down the murderer himself. He vows to do everything in his power to take bloody vengeance against the killer, even if it means that he must become a monster himself to get the monstrous and inhumane killer.

(Plot Outline from Cathay)

Coming Soon (15 Sep)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Sorcerer and the White Snake | 白蛇傳說之法海

The Plot

According to legend, there lived a horde of goblins and monsters in the depths of the primeval forest. Among these evil spirits were two snakes, one white and one green, loitering in the mountains, leading a carefree life.

One day, a young herbalist Xu Xian (Raymond Lam) came to the mountains and accidentally fell into a lake. White Snake (Eva Huang), in the incarnation of a beautiful lady, the form she acquired after a thousand years of practice and cultivation, came to his rescue. White Snake's passion for this young man could not be contained, and with the help of Green Snake (Charlene Choi), she ventured into the human world and got married to Xu Xian.

Not long after their marriage, a strange disease started plaguing their town. As a physician, Xu Xian was very anxious. In order to help her husband, White Snake was willing to use up most of her supernatural power to concoct medicine for the disease, undermining her body and her vital energy.

Fa Hai (Jet Li), a sorcerer from Jinshan Temple, whose mission was to travel the world to subdue demons and slay monsters, arrived in time to save the town from the plague. But at the same time, from the medicine provided by Xu Xian, the sorcerer detected a touch of evil.

Then came Dragon Boat Festival when Chinese families drink wine to drive away evil spirits. In celebration, Xu Xian made White Snake drink some wine, and she immediately turned into a big white snake. Meanwhile Fa Hai came to the house in order to subdue White Snake. In confusion, Xu Xian used the sacred sword given to him by Fa Hai and wounded the large white python. White Snake escaped with serious injury.

Xu Xian was grief-stricken and tried to make remedy by risking his life to obtain a potent medicinal herb for his wife. Xu Xian got the herb but during the course was possessed by demons. In order to save him, Fa hai kept him in Jinshan Temple.

After taking the herbal dose, White Snake regained her strength and power and rushed to Jinshan Temple for her husband. She was overcome with rage after the failure to enter the Temple. In extreme frenzy, she summoned up a flood over the Temple causing a catastrophe.

Coming Soon 6 Oct 2011

(Plot Outline and Trailer from ShawOnlineVideo youtube channel)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Conan the Barbarian

“I live. I love. I slay…I am content.” - Conan The Barbarian

The most legendary Barbarian of all time is back this Summer. Having thrived and evolved for eight consecutive decades in the public imagination- in prose and graphics, on the big screen and small, in games and properties of all kinds- Conan’s exploits in the Hyborian Age now come alive like never before in a colossal 3D action-adventure film.

A quest that begins as a personal vendetta for the fierce Cimmerian warrior soon turns into an epic battle against hulking rivals, horrific monsters, and impossible odds, as Conan realizes he is the only hope of saving the great nations of Hyboria from an encroaching reign of supernatural evil.

Plot Outline from (Conan the Barbarian in 3D Facebook Page)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Overheard 2 | 窃听风云2

Manson Law (Lau Ching Wan), a celebrated stockbroker in Hong Kong is injured in a car accident. The police, led by Inspector Jack Ho (Louis Koo), discover a military surveillance device in the car wreck.

Meanwhile, the wiretapper Joe (Daniel Wu) is unveiling his extensive plan that targets the mysterious financial conglomerate, the Landlord Club. The fate of these three men soon intertwines in the cat-and-mouse game that may bring down the entire stock market.

(Plot Outline taken from Cathay)

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Fortune Buddies | 勁抽褔祿壽 [ Movie Review ] ★★

The Plot

The Fortune Buddies follow the adventures of three hapless friends. Lam Luk (Wong Cho-lam), Jit Sau (Johnson Lee) and Fook Cheung (Louis Yuen) are three jobless guys who are often waiting at the employment agency to change their life.

Luk would like to settle down with his girlfriend (Fiona Sit) but the potential father-in-law (Eric Tsang) would like to test Luk abilities in taking care his daughter. He gave Luk a sum of money and a time frame to transformed it into five hundred thousand dollars.

Given their current jobless situation, it's almost an impossible task but Fook and Sau are determined to help Luk achieved his dream. They decided to perform as drag queens at Mongkok's Sai Yeung Choi street. It didn't help them earned much but after a fight with another group of drag queens, they found fame online (courtesy of online video streaming). 

To capitalize on their new found fame, they decided to perform wrestling on the streets. What they didn't expect was a challenge from a foreigner and a surprise win for Fook, Luk and Sau. Their victory were once again loaded onto the internet and they became even more popular. What they couldn't predict was that the foreigner turns out to be a pro wrestler and was humiliated by the defeat. A challenge was issued to the trio and it comes with a reward that they couldn't refuse.

In between Luk's quest to win his girlfriend's father approval in marriage, there are subplots pertaining to Fook and Sau's past and their conflicts. Sau claimed to be a rich man son who left the wealthy life so that he could pursue the woman of his dream (Samantha Ko). Meanwhile Fook is a single dad who refused to let his successful ex wife (Fala Chen) reunite with his son. All their problems will come to an resolution in the wrestling ring.

The Perspective

This movie is made in 20 days and it really showed. It's made in a He Sui Pian movie format (Asian movies made specially for the Chinese New Year period, usually a joyful comedy with plenty of cameo & weak plotting) but it's still a long way to go till Chinese Lunar New Year. After the movie ended, the first thing that came into my mind was "Why was this movie made?".

It seemed to served no purpose. The nearest Chinese Festival would be the Mid-Autumn (Mooncake) festival and it won't be here till September. It's unlikely that this movie is made to celebrate the Chinese Ghost festival. So why is this movie being made?

The production for this movie felt rushed. The story felt more patchy than the average He Sui Pian. It seemed like there were very little thought process given to link the various plotlines together. In fact, it felt like a series of television sketch that's been pasted together and the whole point of this movie was to deliver a gag after another.

That brings us to another problem with the movie. Some of the jokes were funny but most of the jokes weren't. For every one scene that cracked me up, there were many other sketches that fell flat.  I must admit that the jokes might be diluted by the Mandarin dubbing but even so, it's a far cry from "I love Hong Kong" or "72 Tenants of Prosperity". There were also plenty of references to the current trends and pop culture of Hong Kong that didn't strike a chord with this Singaporean viewer. I find them hard to relate and even harder to be amused by it.

Personally, I always enjoyed Louis Yuen, Wong Cho Lam and Johnson Lee's performance. Even when they are just a supporting act in a Hong Kong TVB series. I also have a soft spot for Fiona Sit and Eric Tsang had been tickling my funny bones since I started watching Hong Kong comedies. However there's very little material in The Fortune Buddies to bring out the best in them. I liked to see more of them but it's also hard to recommend this movie. Perhaps one could wait for the telly to broadcast this movie because there's no real lost waiting till then.

Beyond the Movie

Each of the three main characters' name contain a word that forms Fook Luk Sau (or Fu Lu Shou in Mandarin ). Fook Luk Sau are the Deities of Good Fortune, Prosperity and Longevity. These three Deities are very popular in Chinese culture.

Thursday, August 11, 2011


The Plot

When notary Lebel (Rémy Girard) sits down with Jeanne and Simon Marwan (Mélissa Désormeaux Poulin, Maxim Gaudette) to read them their mother Nawal’s will (Lubna Azabal), the twins are stunned to receive a pair of envelopes – one for the father they thought was dead and another for a brother they didn’t know existed.

An adaptation of Wajdi Mouawad’s hit play, INCENDIES is a deeply moving story that brings the extremism and violence of today’s world to a starkly personal level, delivering a powerful and poetic testament to the uncanny power of the will to survive.

(Plot Outline taken from Festive Films Official Fanpage)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Ultimate Winner | 赢家 [ Movie Review ] ★1/2

The Pitch

Back in 1993, Singapore's Mandarin Television channel produced a gambling drama serial called The Unbeatables 双天至尊. It was probably an attempt to copy the wildly successful Hong Kong gambling movies (such as Chow Yun Fatt's God of Gamblers 1989 and Stephen Chow's All for the Winner 1990) into a nightly entertainment for Singapore household.

Even though The Unbeatables' production standard pale in comparison to the Hong Kong counterparts, The Unbeatables was entertaining in it's own right and folks who had seen it might remember it better than the other Singapore television series of those time.

It also starred two of the biggest Singapore television actors, Zoe Tay and Li Nanxing. Both of them went on to star in two sequels of The Unbeatables. After nearly nine years after the last sequel to this gambling televison series, Li Nanxing returned to the gambling world back with The Ultimate Winner. He took on the roles of the director and the leading role. Given his experience with three gambling television series, he might just have an ace in his sleeves.

The Plot

Shi Tian Cai (Li Nanxing) started to gamble at a very young age. His father, a gambling addict had taught him gambling and he managed to master the art of cards counting when he was just a kid. Unfortunately a fire broke out at a gambling den and Tian Cai's father died in that accident.

Years later, Tian Cai is now a professional gambler and a married man with a pregnant wife.  His wife Zhi Hui (Rebecca Lim ) didn't really like him to spend so much time gambling but did nothing to stop him. His contact and link to the high-rollers gambling group would be though Honey (Constance Song), a lady who is swooning over Tian Cai. Soon Tian Cai's gambling talent gained the attention of Champion Li (Aaron Chen) a Taiwanese tycoon who is interested in Honey. A showdown between the rich and the talented would eventually happen.

The Perspective

The Ultimate Winner is naively bad in so many ways. In movies where the story is king, the story telling aspect falters so badly that it felt like a train wreck.

Let's start with the characterization. It makes one wonder how can a skilled gambler like Tian Cai be so tactless and unobservant to his wife's displeasure with his gambling. We get quite a few scenes of Tian Cai showing off presenting his winnings to his wife which resulted in scenes that she didn't like it and/or kicking a big fuss about it. Wouldn't it be wiser if he just quietly banked in those cheques and subtly provide money for households at times which are more advantageous to him?

Then there are moments when Honey asked Tian Cai out to celebrate her birthday after she brought him into a gambling match that helped him win enough money to save his brother in law. Even though she got a thing for him, wouldn't it be out of courtesy to oblige someone who just did a big favor for you? This movie just went on showing how Tian Cai had a home cooked meal with his wife and seemly forgotten about the appointment.

This movie is filled with plenty of such weak characterization and there's simply no traction for these characters. When you don't care about the characters, the story would just feel like a drag.

The next issue would be the gambling aspect. When we go to a gambling movie, we expect to see some nifty gambling choreography and intense gambling standoff resulting in satisfying payout. The Ultimate Winner had none of that. It's been reported that Li Nanxing who had learned a few tricks during his time in The Unbeatable series, was the choreographer for the gambling scenes. It showed that he probably learned some very basic moves and there really nothing here that we had not seen back in the eighties and nineties.

The gambling rivalry and standoff in The Ultimate Winner were a joke. Suffering from weak characterization and poor plotting, there's no tension to speak off. Tian Cai who seemed to possessed cards counting skills, suddenly became a person who relied on luck. The climatic revelation was such a bad joke. Asked yourself, if you are to pick four of the biggest cards out from a deck, which would you pick? Guess which set did Tian Cai picked before Champion Li? I am not sure why no one in this movie production actually pointed out to the director that it's really a stupid way to end a gambling movie.

The problematic issues that The Ultimate Winner have might be a result of religious interference. It seemed that Li Nanxing had just recently embraced the Christian faith and it might have interfered with how the characterization and gambling choreography were set up. There might be a unwittingly self censorship to downplay the coolness of gambling but that will be hard to pinpoint down.

But what was evident throughout the movie was the Christian evangelical message. Lots of praying, cell groups and outreach arms to the sky, asking God for help. While there are good movies that promotes the Christian faith, there are bad ones that feel like amateur role play in churches. The Ultimate Winner felt like the latter one. It felt like it's trying desperately to hammer the Christian belief into the viewers. I personally find it a turn off. If you want to preach, do it in a church. Not in a cinema where unsuspecting folks paid money to watch a gambling movie or got the Dvd with the naive impression that this is going to be something like The Unbeatables. 

There are plenty more things that went wrong with this movie. Pointless car chases sequence that's a blatant showcase of expensive sportscars, pointless subplots, terrible choice of character names, sub par acting and many more. The point is that if this is a movie about gambling addiction, it was so badly executed that it's really hard to get the moral of the story. Even though Li Nanxing had years of experience in the acting field, that doesn't mean that he can be a good directer. In fact, he needs a good director to direct his performance and perhaps a dubbing artist to do a voiceover for him (like they used to do in older Singapore television series). It's just unfathomable how a movie made in 2011 could be so lackluster and badly constructed as compared to a 1993 television series.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Horrible Bosses [ Movie Review ] ★★1/2

The Plot

For Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day), the only thing that would make the daily grind more tolerable would be to grind their intolerable bosses (Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, Jennifer Aniston) into dust.
Quitting is not an option, so, with the benefit of a few-too-many drinks and some dubious advice from a hustling ex-con (Jamie Foxx), the three friends devise a convoluted and seemingly foolproof plan to rid themselves of their respective employers…permanently. 

There’s only one problem: even the best laid plans are only as foolproof as the brains behind them. 

(Plot Outline from Horrible Bosses Facebook Info)

The Perspective 

The irony of Horrible Bosses was that there weren't enough Horrible Bosses. Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell were the better parts of the show and yet there wasn't enough of them nor were they effective in their limited screen time.  

Kevin Spacey who is replaying the role of a nasty boss wasn't in his A game here. He is still a psycho mean spirited boss but this rendition here really pales in comparison to his performance in Swimming with Sharks. Jennifer Aniston and Colin Farrell were commendable for taking on roles that were a departure of the types that we were used to see them in. But it wasn't really that good either and they got way too little screen time to expand on their roles.

It's a shame because the three bosses could have been funny as hell but were left under utilized and didn't have the time to shine.

Instead we get a movie that focus on three subordinates who were trying to kill their boss for a better life. Their madcap adventure felt like a desperate attempt to copy the success of The Hangover movie (the original one). There's the sensible one, the sex manic and the stupid one. It felt rather generic and predictable throughout.

Jason Bateman felt like he had not stepped out of his character from Arrested Development. Jason Sudeikis as the horny guy who gets laid easily felt like a desperate attempt to incite laughter. But they were bearable compared to Charlie Day.

Charlie Day was simply annoying as the stupid one to turn down the sex offer by his boss. I couldn't relate to his character and it felt like he is going against the law of nature on this one. It certainly made the matter worse when his voice was so whiny and it gets tiresome to watch him play dumb.

Well but humour is subjective. What might not be funny for me, might make people laugh out loud. There are some folks in my theater that were consistently laughing hysterically at bits that I thought wasn't that funny at all. In fact I found the humour rather formulaic, kinda forced and too juvenile to my liking. Horrible Bosses did cause me to chuckle once or twice (at most) but hey like I said, humour is  subjective so watch it at your own discretion.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Womb [ Movie Review ] ★★★

The Pitch

It's quite a morbid concept for a movie. As the tagline asked, "What are the consequences of giving birth to your dead boyfriend", a woman decided to give birth to the clone of her dead lover. What kind of result would she hoped for and would this unnatural cycle of life ends in happy ending. It's a pretty weird idea for a movie but it's the morbidness of this concept that make Womb such an intriguing film to catch.

It's backed by two interesting choice for the two lead roles. Eva Green who played the female lead of Casino Royale is the lady with the unusual plan to bring her lover back. Matt Smith, the latest incarnation of Dr.Who is the lover who been brought back from death in the most unusual fashion.

The Plot

The love story for Tommy and Rebecca started when they were just young kids. They were very closed together until Rebecca had to leave for Japan with her mom. Twelve years later, Rebecca returned to find Tommy and their relationship blossom quickly like they were soul mates.

During a trip to sabotage a corporation inauguration ceremony, Tommy met with an accident and died before Rebecca's eyes. Grief stricken, Rebecca decided to clone Tommy by impregnating herself with Tommy's embryo. Tommy's mother objected to that idea but his father agreed to give Rebecca access to Tommy's cell material. He urged Rebecca to considered carefully before going through with her plan.

Rebecca decided to stick with her plans and eventually gave birth to Tommy through Caesarean section. Both of them had a close relationship but life wasn't going to be rosy for them. They soon found out that clones or "copies" were not welcome in the neighborhood. Besides discrimination, Rebecca also had to face the uncertainty of what Tommy would grow up into and the eventuality of disclosing their true relationship to Tommy.

The Perspective

Womb isn't exactly a sci-fi flick even though it used human cloning as a centerpiece for the movie. It's a moody slow film that's more concerned with a romance that's unnaturally prolonged. The deliberate slowness and the moody cinematography let the viewer contemplate on what the characters were going through.

But of course, slow and moody could also result in putting the audience to sleep. It's an art house that will not appeal to most people. I don't think that the general audience would appreciate Womb much as the restrained manner of the story telling could be rather frustrating.The subject matter in Womb is also not for everyone (as depicted in the movie). The incestuous nature of this movie might be too much for one to handle or even enjoy. 

However if one is willing to be stayed involved with this movie and be broadminded with the subject, it's actually quite a lovely unconventional love story. A love that went to the extreme was heartbreaking rendered that it's hard not to feel anything for all those involved and affected with this morbid unnatural decision. It makes one question Rebecca's decision and the boundary for true love. There's no easy answer for that and that itself will provide plenty of material to debate with your fellow movie goers (those that stayed awake) after the show is done.

Last but not least, I find the minimalist feel of Womb rather beautiful, specially the island of Sylt as backdrop for this movie. There's a certain attraction to the cold and bleakness portrayed with Sylt that actually makes me want to stay there for a while. In a way, it played a part in telling the story. The location felt like the end of the world where conventional rules are no where to be found. Just the right place for the story of Womb to take place.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes [ Movie Review ] ★★★★

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes is Worth Going Apes For"

The Pitch

The first thing that got my attention was the long and mouthful title. It contains two sets of the phrase "of the"  and that just didn't flow right for a movie title. Even though it wasn't the ideal title, it did somewhat accomplish the job of informing people that it's a prequel to the classic movie The Planet of the Apes.

Upon more research on this movie, it turned out to be a reboot too. Director Rupert Wyatt had said that they are trying to achieve what Batman Begins did for The Dark Knight franchise. Since both movies are not so well titled, there might be a chance that Rise of the Planet of the Apes will turned out to be as good as Batman Begins.

The trailer looked promising too. The CGI apes that Weta Digital and Andy Serkis created through motion-capture performances looked impressive. James Franco look set to add another intriguing entry into his diversified resume by providing the human perspective to the origin of the ape's worldwide domination.

Strangely, for someone who was never interested in the Planet of the Apes franchise and it's concept, this prequel reboot is buzzing for me. First and foremost, I would like to see how will this movie link to the old franchise and how are they going to bridge it. I am also intrigued by how human brutality towards animals in the name of science would be worked into the movie. Last but not least, can a bunch of apes really win the war against humans?

The Plot

Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist who is about to find a cure for Alzheimer. Tests on chimpanzee had been progressing well and needed approval to move the project onto human trials. After a horrible mishap during a presentation for the investor, Will's project was deemed as a failure and was subsequently canceled. Will's animal wrangler gave him the offspring of one of the test subjects and was force to bring it home while they looked for an animal sanctuary.

Will's dad, Charles (John Lithgow) an Alzheimer patient became fond of the young chimpanzee quickly and decided to name it Caesar (Andy Serkis). As times passes, Will noticed that Caesar had been genetically modifies and adapts very well with human-like intelligence. Unfortunately, Caesar incurred unwanted attention when he attempt to "rescue" Charles from a nasty neighbor's "attack". The authority ordered Caesar to be locked up in a primate shelter.

In the shelter, Caesar learned about human cruelty towards animals and started to resent the treatment to it's species. The issue was exacerbated by the fact that Will's attempt to rescue Caesar had been hampered by the government's red tapes. Caesar decided to take matters to it's own hands and form a revolution for the apes.

The Perspective - Rise of the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

To summarize, it's a pretty good prequel story. Director Rupert Wyatt made a wise decision of not covering too much and used his characters well to drive the story. The conflicts between human and apes were well crafted, creating a subtle tragedy on the best intention. It was gripping to see how Caesar's bond with humans would slowly evolve into a rebellion. It's the kind of scenario that you would sympathize both sides and but understood their rationale in their involvement with the eventual clash.

It's nice to see that instead of rushing, they took the time to build the foundation for the bridge between this movie and the rest of the franchise. The filmmakers were also pretty innovative in crafting the reason why a bunch of monkey could conquer the whole world and mankind. The beauty of their innovation would be that they could include another movie before reaching the events in Planet of the Apes or just jump straight there. And of course the news on a space shuttle mission to mars were a nice nods to those who are aware of what happened in Planet of the Apes.

   The story won't resonate without a good performance from the actors. James Franco, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto and Andy Serkis delivered the compassionate side of human and animal interaction. Brian Cox, Tom Felton and David Oyelowo showed the nastiness of mankind without going overboard. It's a well balanced storyline with capable cast supporting it.

WETA Digital's special effects for Rise of the Planet of the Apes needed to commended here. It was so good that sometimes, it easy to forget that Caesar and other apes are pure computer generated images. It's not the highlight of the movie but it definitely aided in telling the story.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is one rare summer blockbuster movie that thoroughly entertains, intrigue and satisfy. It packs as much intellects and emotions as one possibly could in a commercial summer blockbuster that's main function would be to entertain. In a way, it matches Batman Begins and Star Trek (2009) in terms of creating the excitement for potential sequels that might come after this reboot prequel. Highly Recommended!


Don't leave the theater immediately once the credits start rolling. There a scene inserted in between the credits. It covers what happened to Will's poor neighbor and how a "minor" character would affect things to come. You will be glad that you stayed for this scene if you enjoyed the movie.

Monday, August 1, 2011

SuckSeed | ห่วยขั้นเทพ

The Plot

Ped is your average elementary school geek who has zero interest in music. But ever since the day his classmate “Earn” shared her love for music with him, Ped in return wants to share his true feelings for her. Life has other plans for Earn when her parents whisk her away to Bangkok.

Ped has to put his love on hold and life goes on until one day they both unexpectedly run into each other in high school.

Earn is a guitar goddess hottie while Ped is still a geek. The hatch plan to form a rock band with their close school mates in the hopes to realize every teenage boy dream-to get with the hottest chicks! Only problem is musically the three of the suck and suck hard, but sometimes you got to SUCK before you SUCCEED!

(Plot Outline from Suckseed Singapore Facebook Page)