Saturday, 2 January 2021

Pixar's Soul Review

 "A spark isn’t a soul’s purpose!"

"Oh, you mentors and your passions. Your purposes, your meanings-of-life. So basic."

OH GOD, PIXAR! You've made it again! How many films can make you see, feel and wonder what’s the value of day to day, minute to minute of life moments that make up your existence? Exceptionally rare. That's what makes Soul truly a masterpiece. Soul wants you to stop a moment, ponder how you're living your life now. Soul is written and directed by Pete Docter again, who brought us various masterpieces in the past such as Inside Out, Toy Story, Monsters Inc, WALL-E, Up.

Pixar's greatest achievement always has been the capability to incorporate themes that hit with both adults and kids, making family movies in the sense that parents can take their kids to these movies, being wowed by the deeper themes within and bizarrely not wanting to leave (not like the feeling where they're just here for the kids for them to enjoy cartoons and have fun).

Director Pete Docter always shows us things we tend to overlook as we grow older, inspire by imbuing us with imaginations we couldn't possibly expect. Soul introduces two memorable leads from different realms, Joe Gardner and 22, who clash and meet together to embark themselves on an emotional journey that will surely make you pause and ponder the smaller, finer details in life, what you want to do and are you making the right choices to get there.

Joe is a 40 something, part-time music teacher who lives in New York City school who lives in regret as he never had the chance to get his big break as a successful Jazz pianist. 22, an unborn soul, who's already very world-weary without ever having lived yet, doesn't want to be born on Earth, as she puts it: "Don't worry, you can't crush a soul here (cosmic wonderland called the "Great Before"), that's what life on Earth is for..." Joe is the character that asks the real questions the entire time and 22 is the one who shows the answers.

Soul has brilliant imaginative concepts for the afterlife, seemingly giving freedom to the creative teams to create anything they want here, such as how lost souls would look like and behave, where unborn souls are being placed and given fixed core personalities before ready to Earth to be born, how mystics gather when they're in a trance and visit the ethereal afterlife and so many more. Soul introduces a cosmic wonderland, The "Great Before", where unborn souls are being prepared by cosmic entities to be born to Earth once they figure out their "spark", that ultimately gives each unborn soul their individual meaning and purpose. 

This "soul-searching" emotional journey between these two characters will force us adults to reflect what our lives has been, by reaching deep to our inner self and ask things in life, much like 22, who's unable to find her "spark" as she's being brainwashed and convinced she's wrong and she'll never be good enough when she was completely right avoiding Earth because of them, no pun intended (laughing). On the other hand, Joe spent all his entire life, chasing a dream, without realizing what he had sacrificed. As the story progresses, you'll realized that these very two misguided souls are the ones who desperately in need of guidance, from each other.

Soul is a story that goes straight to your very inner soul. It has a lot of mature themes about the regrets in life, finding your meaning and purpose, noticing and appreciating the finer details in life. Although the astounding creative visuals and comedic, lighthearted animation will surely entertain the kids, but they won't be able to contemplate the existential themes that are presented here yet, until they're old enough to be adults, made monumental decisions in life that provoke them years later to reflect upon whether they've wasted time by placing importance on the wrong aspects of living. That's what Soul really is. In essence, adults are probably the ones who will benefit the most after watching this film.

To reiterate again, Soul is a profound, deep, heartfelt, soulful, meaningful masterpiece. Highly recommended! Not to be missed! 

Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Wonder Woman 1984 review

Truthfully said, Wonder Woman 1984, the sequel of the highly successful 2017 Wonder Woman, is an emotionally satisfying but logically flawed superheroine film. Why is it so? Is it really that terrible as many would have said it is? Not really. Let’s find out.

More than 6 decades have passed since the first film, Diana is living a solitary life and works in a museum as an archaeologist. Occasionally, she does her Wonder Woman crime-fighting, hero saving work when she’s around. From Gadot’s performance, we can clearly see that it's due to Diana's love and compassion that drives her to do the things that she does, which she learned from Steve Trevor in the past.

The mall heist action scene that was shown early in the film carries the cheesiness of the 80s, seemingly paying tribute to the Silver Age comic era (similar to Christopher Reeve Superman era) version of the character. It does feel fun, lighthearted and welcoming for casual audiences but hardcore fans might feel perplexed due to the sudden change of “age settings” of the character as the overindulgent, campy and cliché nature of Silver Age version might affect the realistic, grounded approach of Modern Age version of Wonder Woman that was established in the first film and the tone of the overall DC Extended Universe.

There are a few logical issues brought upon due to the decision of changing from a realistic, grounded and serious approach of Modern Age to the fun, campiness and cheesiness of Silver Age:

1) The fireworks depiction of fourth of July independence day in the middle of winter, should've been New Year instead.

2) The mastery of Silver Age capabilities of Wonder Woman - flight and “making things invisible” aren't reflected or depicted in Justice League,

3) Steve able to flawlessly drive a 1980s car or plane without issues.

4) Steve was in awe of escalators or underground trains (although this can be explained that he’s a soldier in a turbulent period of WWI, he couldn’t possibly know new inventions that aren’t fully commercialized yet.)

On a positive note, the sequel further examines the inner feelings of loneliness Diana endured over the years, moved on but still deeply holding on her love for Steve, who sacrificed himself at the end of WWI. The film beautifully captures the painful yet crucial solitary existence of her character, brilliantly portrayed by Gadot in scenes with intense moments of tears. By remembering the love, compassion, kindness shown by Steve when he brought Diana with him to the "Land of Men" outside Themyscira, she's able to continue holding on to be our beloved Wonder Woman. These are the strong key defining moments that shapes how Diana becomes who she is now...much like when Diana making her stand across No Man’s Land in the first film. This shows us why she’s one of the beloved DC Trinity after so many years (Wonder Woman was created in 1941, the other Trinity members are Superman & Batman).

Most casual audience might wonder how can any woman capable of holding the same passions of love for someone who died for so long? Is it realistic enough in this day and age? Just imagine yourself that you’re born and live most of your life in a world filled with women only, suddenly a man appeared in your life, brings you to a different world, made you see things in a brighter way, instills faith, trust, love, compassion in you, sacrifice his life for greater good. How would you feel? The sequel gets the heart of what’s important about the character, the idealism of her character is depicted well.

Steve’s life gives value, meaning, strength and inspiration for Diana to be Wonder Woman, to protect the world of mankind. He’s the bedrock foundation of Diana. The strong on-screen chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine carries emotional weight and show the audience that what they’ve been through felt real.

However, there's another glaring issue that will surely create mixed feelings among fans and casual audience alike: Steve’s soul returned and possessing the body of a stranger instead of returning in full body and soul. The idea of possessing a stranger, using the body to do the things depicted in the film aren't exactly right to begin with...Perhaps the idea was haphazardly implemented with the emotional reason that hopefully Diana would move on with her life and find a new love, in this case the stranger who Steve possess during that time, but still it doesn't sound right logically.

Aside from that, the film dares to ask big questions such as:

“Is truly getting what you want is the same as getting what you need?”

“Are we truly happy by being ignorant, choosing to deny the truth, succumb to our desires, or content with the choices that we made even though it felt wrong?”

Unfortunately, the execution of these thematic elements have been rather flimsy and sloppy. The scriptwriters used a “MacGuffin” - Dreamstone to push forward most of the plot narrative which ironically made it messy and convoluted, as many plot contrivances can be seen throughout the film. The Olympian God, Dechalafrea Ero/Dolos/Mendacius or called the God of Lies, the creator of the Dreamstone, is just briefly mentioned and no further elaboration of his current status afterwards.

The plot decision of having Diana wearing the Asteria’s golden armor is rather out of place and sudden. The question of how she’s able to find the armor all those years and how she’s able to keep it in her apartment are questions yet to be answered as well. 

Barbara’s character was haphazardly developed and shortchanged...following the standard cliché of “an eccentric, but neglected person who lacks self confidence, doesn’t realize how smart and worthy she is until something happened that made her gain confidence through nefarious ways and lose her humanity”. Her character arc is bland and just isn't compelling enough to be remembered. It’s not the issue of Kristen Wiig’s acting performance, she did well for her part, it’s just script issues about her character (Silver Age setting as well).

The other villain in this film, Maxwell Lord, an over-the-top 1980s fraud who cheats, despite being well acted by Pedro Pascal, is also not a compelling villain to begin with. His motives and desires are just mainly motivated by greed and power for no known purpose. The only thing that show us his humanity is his relationship with his son, which is not that complex or justified.

Overall, as mentioned earlier, the sequel does deliver well on an emotional level. It understands the main character well, it's bright and filled with hope but the numerous plot contrivances and glaring issues that the script brings shows that it's not carefully thought out before pre-production starts. The decision to adhere to the more classical, campy Silver Age years rather than follow the established realistic, grounded Modern Age has created more unexpected consequences. Paying homage to the old superhero format of yesteryears just doesn't work in this day and age anymore.

Rating: 6.5/10

Steve: "Diana, I know it's been hard."

Diana: "You don't know. You don't."

Steve: "It can't go on like this."

Diana: "I give everything I have, every day. And I'm happy to. But this one thing...You're all that I've wanted for so long. You're the only joy I've had or even asked for."

Steve: "I am so sorry...but that's crazy."

Diana: "Why, for once, can't I just have this one thing, Steve? This one thing. I can't give you up. So I won't. There has to be another way."

Steve: "Diana, listen to me. I had a great life. And you only made it better. But you know what you need to do. The world needs you. All right?"

Diana: "No. I'll never love again."

Steve: "I pray that isn't true. There's a wonderful, big world out there. This crazy new world. And I am so happy I got to see it...but it deserves you."

Diana: "I can't say goodbye."

Steve: "You don't have to. I'm already gone. I'll always love you, Diana, no matter where I am."

Diana: "I love you."

Diana: "Nothing good is born from lies, just wasting precious time. I've never wanted anything more. But he's gone...that's the truth. Everything has a price. This world was a beautiful place just as it can't have it all. You can only have the truth. The truth is enough. The truth is beautiful."


Saturday, 10 October 2020

My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday


"We're not passing each other. The edges have been tied into a ring, connecting us as one."

My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday is a subtly tender, bittersweet yet strikingly heartbreaking love story between two people from different worlds that was doomed by destiny from the very beginning. First of all, the film doesn't bother to explain the mechanics of why and how certain things happen the way it is (and it doesn't have to), it focuses more on the relationship of the couple in depth and observe how they deal with the reality they're forced to live in.

It begins with an awkward boy meets girl scene in a train, where the guy, with no prior experience of love, made clumsy mistakes during an attempt to approach a girl that usually guarantees rejection, but surprisingly that the girl doesn't seem to care and weirdly promised to meet him (a stranger), the next day, even shockingly agrees to affirm their relationship from the get-go after dating him on the third day.

After more days had passed, they quickly accustomed with each other, with formal honorifics removed, showing that they're getting closer to each other. It gives a sweet, comfy feeling when watching how they interact with each other, albeit with slight noticeable signs that something isn't right.

Finally, the heart-pinching, teary moment comes when the truth is revealed during halfway through the film. After the revelation, it feels that your heart keeps aching as you watch the couple going through an unchangeable cruel fate as each moment passing by each day.

Both leads did their utmost best by delivering outstanding performances, showing their chemistry for each other while delivering their lines. While I'm trying my best not to spoil the entire plot of the film, but I have to say a few things to express why it pains your heart so much as you're watching it:

  • The first time when he meets her, is when she loves him the most...
  • The things that he does and experience the first time, are the very things she does and experience the last time...
  • It's a very cruel destiny for both, especially for her...
  • While he can initially experience it without knowing, however, on the other hand, she needs to subtly, painstakingly pretend as each day passes by, knowingly proceed everything as it should be. 

The ending, as it shows the recollection of scenes earlier the beginning, reflects what the girl actually experiencing at that point in time, showing us that there's actually more than meets the eye, is truly beyond words could describe.

Overall, it is a very intelligent, well-made film that deserves an applause for its bold portrayal of star-crossed lovers, despite the fact it's rather heartbreaking to watch until the end. As the credits roll with a melancholic song at the background, I found myself with an aching heart, knowing that they will never meet again but at least they made full use of what's been given and their love for each other is so real, tender and passionate. 

Highly recommended. Many thanks to the person who recommended this brilliant film. It's rather fortunate to be able to watch this film even after 4 years of its release.

Rating: 8.5/10

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Movie Review: Tenet

 “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds” - a line that crossed Oppenheimer's mind as he witnessed the first detonation of a nuclear device in 1945. Perfectly describes the main villain of Tenet.

After a career spanning 22 years since The Following, Christopher Nolan never ceases to amaze the audience with his mind-boggling, jaw-dropping, head-scratching existential and epistemological themes, exploring the concepts of time, memory, space, identity and superhero. His unconventional narrative structures of the plot often surprises people, Tenet is no exception as well.

Once again, this is another creative, never-before-seen blockbuster packed with original, ambitious ideas by Nolan, while also seems like a culmination, or maturation of Nolan's past successful works. Memento has non-linear storytelling, with narratives going backwards and forwards in time; Interstellar has time-travel with manipulation of gravity, the relativity of time in different worlds; Inception has heist structured with the concept of dream layers rather than conventional treasure vault infiltration. Tenet structures its spy espionage with the new concept: Time inversion.

Despite what's being said in the media, Tenet is really not about time travel, but time inversion - or rather the reversion of entropies of objects or persons. Time travelling is the capability to jump to a specific point in time of the past. Time inversion happens when an object's entropy is reversed, giving us the perception that something moving backwards in time. In Tenet, if you want to travel back to 40 years ago, you have to live those 40 years in reverse. Tenet can be said as Nolan's most confusing film, much like the Protagonist's trainer, Laura mentions:"Don't try to understand it. Feel it." 

Tenet is remarkably fast-paced, the movie swiftly opens with a terrorist siege at the Kiev opera house in Ukraine, where we're introduced to the Protagonist (yes, our main character doesn't have a name), the key item at stake is part of the Algorithm, a doomsday device that's capable of reversing the world's entropy, which is essentially the item that triggers a temporal war between the people of the past and future.

Confused? Your mind's hurting? For many, Nolan's films often requires multiple viewings due to its complexity. "Temporal pincer movements", "temporal turnstiles" aren't that easy to get in the first viewing. In Nolan's past works, heavy expositions are usually provided to ease the cinemagoers to understand what's going on, due to the complex nature of ideas, plot presented in the film, which is the subject of criticism by many. This time it's different. This sci-fi spy espionage action thriller trusts the viewer's capability to think its complex plot points fast and understands it well to make sense of what's going on. Nolan's films tend to be wildly satisfying should the viewer willing to put the effort of giving some thoughts of what it tries to present.

As usual, Nolan's approach to visual effects and action scene design is heavily grounded and minimum computer rendered effects are done, to provide a heightened sense of reality. Nolan really uses a real Boeing 747 to do the crash sequence. The reversed car crashes, time-synced explosions or even hand-to-hand moving in backwards action sequences are quite impressive.

However, it's to say that Tenet is not really Christopher Nolan's masterpiece, despite it's a thrilling, great blockbuster to behold. Tenet does struggles on its characterization part. Many characters in the film are well-casted, lines are delivered wonderfully, but they're not sufficiently well-developed, much of the time was given to the plot and action instead. Tenet still suffers from lack of emotional depth of its characters, a common criticism for some of Nolan's works, voiced out by many critics in the past. It's not as neat as the grand existentialism showcase of Interstellar or Inception's multi-layered dreams (also personal loss of Cobb that affects his work as an Extractor).

The ending of Tenet is less ambiguous this time around, it closes where it starts. It's a neat way to wrap things up much like Memento. Overall, Tenet is an incredibly bold, creative undertaking which took Nolan 5 years to complete the screenplay for us to see it in the big screen now. It's an achievement.

Rating: 8.5/10

Questions & Answers about TENET Explained


Q & A for Tenet

*Warning – major spoilers: do not read if you haven’t seen Tenet yet*

There are total of 18 questions with answers provided for each of them. Brace yourselves.

1.       What’s Tenet?

The word “tenet” itself is a palindrome (spelt the same way forwards as it is backwards), with a definition that says “a principle or belief, especially one of the main principles of a religion or philosophy”.

It’s also the title that refers to ten minutes forward and ten minutes backwards that happens in the climactic battle of the film. It’s also the name of the secret organisation that was founded by the Protagonist in the future, which also recruits the Protagonist in the past.

Hence the reason why Tenet has been described earlier in the film with a hand movement in which all fingers merge together to combine into one whole – a closed loop.

2.       What's time inversion?

The most important misconception to be clarified is that time inversion is not time travelling. Time travelling is the capability to jump to a specific point in time of the past. In Tenet, if you want to travel back to 40 years ago, you have to live those 40 years in reverse.

The scientific basis of time inversion differentiates it from time travel. Hence the reason why we see characters in the film inverted and having to live in reverse in order to reach a different point in the timeline of their story, meaning they cannot jump back to a week in the past, they have to live that week in reverse to reach that point.

In the future, a technology has been developed by an unknown female scientist that can reverse the entropy of people and objects to move backward through time. Time inversion is being used by the people of the future to start a temporal war (hidden World War III) with the people of the past, Tenet is the secret organisation founded to stop it.

In Tenet we see time inversion as though we are watching the inverted objects on rewind while the rest of the scene plays in a linear motion. This means that boats appear to be sailing backwards, cars motoring and guns firing in reverse from the eyes of the person who’s inverted. As Washington’s trainer Laura explains to him as he fires an inverted bullet: “You’re not shooting the bullet, you’re catching it.”

3.       What’s entropy?

As Nolan puts it in the film's production notes: “Every law of physics is symmetrical – it can run forwards or backwards in time and be the same – except for entropy."

Entropy, is the degree of disorder in a system. The entropy of an object is a measure of the amount of energy which is unavailable to do work. Entropy is also a measure of the number of possible arrangements the atoms in a system can have. In other words, entropy is a measure of uncertainty or randomness of a system.

According to the second law of thermodynamics (universal law of increasing entropy), as time moves forward, entropy can never decrease – it either increases, or remains the same. Which could mean that what we think of as time is, in fact, merely a perception governed by our observations of entropy. If we see disorder decreasing, we think we're seeing something moving backwards in time.

Ice melting, salt or sugar dissolving, making popcorn and boiling water for tea are processes with increasing entropy in your kitchen. By reversing the entropy, ice doesn’t melt, salt or sugar doesn’t dissolve, popcorn will never be made, and water for tea doesn’t boil.

“The theory being that if you could invert the flow of entropy for an object, you could reverse the flow of time for that object, so the story is grounded in credible physics," Nolan says. "I did have (Nobel Prize-theoretical physicist and consultant on Interstellar) Kip Thorne read the script and he helped me out with some of the concepts, though we’re not going to make any case for this being scientifically accurate. But it is based roughly on actual science.”

Entropy is like Murphy's Law applied to the entire universe as there are more things that can go wrong than right. The difficulties of life do not occur because the planets are misaligned or because some cosmic force is conspiring against you. It is simply entropy at work.

4.       How does the characters in Tenet perform time inversion?

People become inverted by passing though large metal turnstiles which look like a giant revolving door, which are created at some point in future. After going through them, you can move backwards in time from the point you entered. From this point, once you enter another one, you shall move forward from the point in time you have travelled back to. Characters must wear a face mask so their bodies can work - regular air doesn't go through inverted lungs, it goes out.

Tenet presents a number of these machines, with the majority of the action focusing on one vault in an art storage facility in Oslo, and another in a warehouse in Tallinn. The reason why objects can move backwards in present time is because these things have manually had their entropy reversed at some point in the future.

5.       Who reversed the objects?

It is suggested that Russian billionaire Sator and his men have done so after inverting themselves through the turnstiles. One theory is that, when these people fired their weapons at different points in time, the bullets would remain there until “caught” by the weapon that fired them.

6.       When entropy is reversed, how does it affects everything around us?

In this palindromic world, everything plays in reverse, including all bodily reactions. Oxygen moves from your lungs out into the air. When you're engulfed in flames, heat was drawn out from your body so rather than burn, you freeze (absence of heat, or rather the entropy or the flow of energy of the flames was reversed). The Protagonist is shown a bullet with inverted entropy that returns to its gun.

If you contact your “forward” self, it will cause “self-annihilation,” as both forward and reverse entropies of the same object clash each other, meaning you kill yourself. Protective gear is worn in an attempt to prevent this from happening.

7.       What was Sator's plan?

A: Russian billionaire Andrei Sator is in contact with people of the future. Sator plans to set off a doomsday device, also known as the Algorithm that will reverse the entropy of the entire planet. He's dying from inoperable pancreatic cancer and believes if he can't live, no one can. Sator travels back to the holiday with Kat in Vietnam when they were both happiest, planning to die there peacefully and set off the doomsday device with a dead man's switch linked to his heartbeat.

8.       What's the Algorithm?

A: Nine objects, hidden in nuclear facilities, form a doomsday device called the Algorithm that reverses the entropy of the Earth. Setting off the Algorithm ends all life as we know it.

9.       Why is the future working with Sator?

A: In the future, everything is destroyed. An unknown agency is working with Sator to kill everyone in the past, because they're responsible for the damage happened in the future. At some point in the film, the Protagonist asked Neil if they're willing to destroy their ancestors, it should threaten their own existence as well (the grandfather paradox). However, both Neil and Sator replied that it’s the desperation of survival that triggers the decision. They have no other choice. The people in the future believe that reversing the entropy of the Earth will induce change and provide a different better future than the doomed one that they live in.

10.   Why Sator, a madman with a God complex is chosen instead?

A: Sator grew up in the Soviet Union in a closed city with secret facilities - Stalsk-12, such as nuclear research sites with a plutonium production plant. Sator was in the right place at the right time as a teenager, when he dug up a piece of the Algorithm in the rubble of his home in Siberia. The female scientist in the future who created the Algorithm has been hiding the pieces back in time, realizing no one should have the technology. The unknown agency charges Sator with recovering the pieces and dropping the finished Algorithm into the "dead drop" (“leaving it somewhere for someone to find later”) in his nuked home town, where they'll find it centuries from now. The agency buries time-reversed gold bars that Sator digs up for payment.

11.   Oppenheimer and The Manhattan Project was briefly mentioned in the film. Who is he?

The first detonation of a nuclear device, conducted on July 16, 1945 was a result of the Manhattan Project which Oppenheimer led. As he witnessed the first detonation, a piece of Hindu scripture ran through the mind of Robert Oppenheimer: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”.

Oppenheimer died at the age of sixty-two in Princeton, New Jersey on February 18, 1967. As wartime head of the Los Alamos Laboratory, the birthplace of the Manhattan Project, he is rightly seen as the “father” of the atomic bomb.  

12.   Who saved the Protagonist at the opera siege in Kiev?

A: While foiling the terrorist siege at the Kiev opera house, the CIA secures an unidentified object (which later turns out to be a piece of the Algorithm). After retrieving the object, the Protagonist, a CIA agent, is saved by a masked gunman. We see the gunman wearing a red string on his back -- the same red string Neil wears on his backpack at the end of the movie. So it was Neil who saved the Protagonist in the opening gunfight.

13.   How did Kat survive after being shot?

Because normal Kat was shot in the abdomen when inverted Sator reverts a bullet. Inverted bullets are fatal as her wound won't heal as the wound (as a result of the bullet shot) keeps ‘reverting’ backwards in time. So the Protagonist and Neil take her backward in time before transporting her to the Oslo freeport art storage facility, where they enter another temporal turnstile to allow her to move forward through time again to allow her body to heal.

14.   Why is Kat under Sator’s control?

A: Kat accidentally sold Sator a forged Goya painting for millions. Sator knows it's fake and blackmailed his wife to stay with him (prison otherwise), and is keeping her child away from her as a kind of emotional hostage. Sator also is using the fake Goya painting as a means to access the freeport at Oslo airport, where he also build a temporal turnstile machine in the building for him to access when in need. To gain her trust, the Protagonist and Neil try to steal the painting from the freeport in Oslo Airport.

15.   What is the Temporal Pincer Movement? How does it work?

At one point in the film, this term is mentioned by Ives. It is a tactic used by people who move through the turnstiles to help you receive knowledge you learned in the future – it’s how Sator has been devising his plan the entire time. Once the information has been learnt, the idea is to then invert yourself (so you’re travelling backwards), so you can brief either past self or someone else. This, in turn, creates a loop of information.

It is worth remembering throughout:

“Blue” with oxygen masks = inverted

“Red” and no oxygen masks = not inverted

(If inverted and outside, you can’t breathe regular air).

The movement occurs four times in the film:

1)      During the highway chase scene when Sator threatens to shoot his wife Kat if The Protagonist doesn’t tell him where the plutonium (actually it’s 9th part of the Algorithm) is hidden

The turnstile in Tallinn has two sections, which are separated by a glass pane – one side is “blue” and depicts an inverted Sator, the other is “red” and depicts The Protagonist in the present. This means that Sator in the preceding highway sequence had been moving back in time after going through the turnstile (we know this, because he is wearing an oxygen mask). Half of Sator’s men enter through a temporal turnstile, allowing them to move backward through time, while the other half move forward. Sator makes off with the piece of the Algorithm with the benefit of knowledge shared between the two teams. A few scenes later, The Protagonist goes through the same turnstiles and returns to this scene – he is now inverted. In fact, we learn he was the one behind the wheel of the car driving the opposite way in the previous highway sequence, so his past and future self almost collided.

2)      During the climactic battle sequence involving the “red” and “blue” team.

Sator plans to activate the Algorithm in the past. He’s buried it in his former hometown, Stalsk-12, under several bombs. When they explode, it’ll activate the algorithm buried underneath them, changing the entropy of the world. Sator is dying of terminal cancer, he’s using his fitness tracker as a dead man's switch to plan to kill himself on his luxurious yacht when he knows his past self isn't there, activating the Algorithm to destroy the world.

The Protagonist, Neil and Ives set out on a mission to remove the Algorithm before the bomb explodes, while Kat heads to the yacht to stop Sator killing himself before they succeed in removing it from the bomb. The Protagonist goes forward in time with Ives as Red Team, Neil lives as the inverted Blue Team. The woman that past Kat saw jumping off the yacht when she returned on that day was actually her future self after she had killed the future version of Sator.

In the end with Neil's help, the Protagonist and Ives remove the Algorithm in time, which is lucky as Kat decided to kill Sator just as they take it. 

*A battle follows where one half of the team is working backwards to the explosion and the other working forwards. “Blue” team of operatives move through a temporal turnstile to invert backwards to one hour before. They will experience what the “red” team will experience an hour before they do, meaning they will then be able to brief them on what has happened/will happen.

To do this, they go back 10 minutes so they can then fill in the non-inverted “red” team on what will happen. This means that, they work in tandem to prevent Sator’s Algorithm from activating before the blue team have to move back through the portal to return to a normal timeline. If it does activate, it will reverse the entropy of the world, which means the future ceases to exist. The teams will both have 10 minutes to pull off the mission: the blue team moving backwards to their point of entry, the red team simply moving forwards to when the blue team entered – “tenet”, where two tens merging together.

3)      During the Oslo Freeport plane crashing incident where the Protagonist tries to save Kat’s life

During the rescue operation, the protagonist and Neil in the past are attacked by two masked men, who was, in fact, one person. That person is The Protagonist himself, twice. First, we initially see the Protagonist and Neil live forwards in time normally to steal the painting and crash the plane at freeport. They later relive those events in reverse order to save Kat. Here we see the person who the protagonist fights actually is the inverted Protagonist himself, the person who bumps into Neil is actually the "inverted back to normal forward" Protagonist himself.

4)   the entire movie is a temporal pincer movement itself

The protagonist was hired to work for a secret organisation named Tenet, who was actually founded by a future version of the Protagonist himself to stop the end of the World. In the end of the film, after killing Priya to save Kat, he inverts himself back into the past to guide past version of himself, Neil, Ives and Priya about what's to come in future.

16.   How did they set off 2 explosions in that building?

A: In the closed city where the Algorithm is stored, two teams participate in the operation to stop the doomsday device's detonation. The red team is moving forward in time, while the blue team is time-reversed. They're using the "temporal pincer movement" over a 10-minute period, with the blue team kept separate from the red up in helicopters. By setting a timer, the red team (those moving forward in time), detonates a bomb in the bottom half of the building at the 5-minute mark, while the blue team does the same in the top of the building by counting backward from 10 minutes to the same moment.

17.   What happened at the end with Neil?

A: In the Algorithm room, the Protagonist and Ives encounter a locked gate. On the other side, they see the corpse of a masked soldier, who wears a red string on his backpack. One of Sator's men tries to shoot the Protagonist, but the masked man springs back to life, takes the bullet and unlocks the gate, allowing the Protagonist to prevent doomsday. He then reverses out of the tunnel. We later see the red string on Neil's backpack, when he reveals that he was recruited by the Protagonist in the future. So the masked soldier who dies is Neil. This is the reason why Neil was always one step ahead and knew what was coming, why he knew that The Protagonist never drinks on the job.

As Neil explains, this is the end of the story for him as he has to go back into the inverted side of the battle, so that he can open the gate and step in front of the bullet meant for The Protagonist. Neil's loop is closed, but for The Protagonist, this is the beginning of their story together.

18.   Everyone's working for the Protagonist?

A: The Protagonist travels to London to save Kat from arms dealer Priya, who believes she must tie up loose ends. The Protagonist shoots Priya, realizing now he will revert back in time and found the secret organization Tenet.


Note: Some answers are modified according to my own understanding about the film. Answers with ‘A:’ are left unchanged from the sites.

Some Questions are written by me and some are taken from the following sources:


Tenet is Nolan’s most confusing film, but thrilling to get lost in

From Avatar 2 to Mulan: Every delayed film and their new release date






Monday, 13 April 2020

Final Fantasy 7 remake (2020)

With all major film releases postponed or cancelled due to coronavirus outbreak, coupled with recent MCO (movement control order) enforced by the government to contain the outbreak, one could expect that the situation spells doom for entertainment to any of us cinemagoers. Oh well. But hey, Final Fantasy 7 remake is finally here! Is it the same (and as great) as the 1997 classic masterpiece?

Let me get this straight first. FF7 remake is a game, not a movie or TV series. But it's something of a marvel to experience, with its compelling storyline, memorable characters and mature theme of life and death. 23 years ago, FF7 was considered a game of its time (the best) and also Square Enix's best asset among the Final Fantasy game franchise to date. It's one of the rare RPG (role-playing games) that literally had fans begging the company to remake it instead of the other way round. So when Square Enix finally announced that they're finally decided to remake this classic masterpiece, every fans was stoked, myself included.

However, keep in mind that Final Fantasy 7 remake is not the full game though, it's actually just the first chapter in a planned series to retell the entire story of the 1997 classic. This 'remake' only covers the events that happens in Midgar, and ends when Cloud Strife and the group leaves the city to venture out in the world of Gaia. So that means only roughly 4-5 hours of original plot gameplay contained in this stretched 40 hours 'remake'. Another thing to mention, Final Fantasy 7 remake isn't exactly a 'remake', it's a complete re-imagining of the 1997 classic that also tries to maintain what made us fall in love with this world 23 years ago.

Truth to be told, Final Fantasy 7 remake itself sets a new benchmark for outstanding visuals and real time combat in the FF franchise, while retains its ability to retell one of gaming's greatest tale. Square Enix also made an incredibly bold decision at the same time by opting to take several huge gambles by making certain huge changes to the future direction of the story.

Needless to say, Final Fantasy 7 remake's narrative and characterizations achievements are strongly supported by its modern updated gameplay and visuals. It remains faithful to its characters and proceeds to expand, explore them further by giving them meaningful stories both big and small, to reaffirm us why we love the characters so much over the years. However, some might find that the various small stories, or side quests (mentioned as fillers in most online reviews) which involves the main characters are a tad too much. Personally, I think it's acceptable.

Final Fantasy 7 remake is truly a dystopia of our times, carefully showing us how capitalism can go wrong (remarkable considering that it's a 23-year old story). The world of FF7 is economically, militarily, politically dominated by a powerful conglomerate, Shin-Ra electric power company, which made huge profits from "mako" reactors that pump an energy called "Mako" and convert it into power and electricity, fuel various transports, appliances and buildings. Mako energy is drawn from the lifestream, where all life originates from in the world of Gaia. By doing so slowly kills the planet and its inhabitants. Sound heavily familiar now?

The city of Midgar, also the headquarters of Shin-Ra, also shows wealth inequality as a result of absolute capitalism, which can be shown from its upper plate that houses the president, upper socialites and workers for Shin-Ra while the lower plate houses the slums of the lower struggling class of people. Our main character, Cloud Strife, an ex-SOLDIER (paramilitary force that was set up by the company to wage war against countries like Wutai that against the extraction of Mako), now working as a mercenary of an eco-terrorist group called Avalanche, to blow up Midgar's mako reactors.

By spending nearly 40 hours of gameplay in Midgar, it allows you to slowly immersive and get to know several old supporting characters better, especially Jessie, Biggs and Wedge. Their expanded screen time allows us to learn why they joined Avalanche and support the cause. Other beloved main characters like Tifa and Aerith are given more screen time for us to get to know them and see how the story's famous and compelling classic love triangle blossomed (more will be shown in later chapters in future). Barret is also there and it's been a pleasure to see how hard he is to the group and yet he has a softer side of him when he cares about his team and most of all, Marlene, his lovely cute daughter. Barret and Red XIII surprising bromance was also added in this recent remake as well!

Almost everything from the Midgar section of the original game is found in this 'remake', with some scenes tweaked with some differences (compared to the original) that will be further explained near the ending. It's a pleasure to see the residential areas of Midgar's slums, Aerith's house, Sector 5 Church, Seventh Heaven, Shin-Ra headquarters, Don Corneo's mansion in Wall Market, etc...Everything is beautifully and masterfully re-created with utmost care. FF7 remake includes all those iconic moments that we've known and remember all those years...Cloud fell into Aerith's church, or crossdresses to infiltrate Don Corneo's mansion to help Tifa, meeting with the Turks like Reno or Rude, etc.

Another thing worth mentioning is that, the old turn-based combat system in the original game is completely replaced by a new real time active combat system now. Although you can only control one character at a time, but you still able to give commands to others or swap with them in mid-battle. The game's various boss fight also becomes harder and looks intimidating after the visual updates as well. The monster, robot villains that are carefully re-created will guarantee satisfy you while making you pissed at the same time.

Not to mention, Nobuo Uematsu the original composer for the beloved songs in FF7 original game is also back this time. It's incredibly wonderful and nostalgic to be able to listen those wonderful character themes when our beloved characters appear on screen once again after 23 years long, especially Aerith's or Tifa's memorable soundtrack themes.

Despite the major revelation about the changes at the ending that might anger fan purists who loves the original game so much (which left me with mixed feelings and worry about the story's future direction), there's still so much to love and enjoy about what's been done right about this latest FF7 remake. The expectations for this FF7 remake is absurdly high, but Square Enix managed to deliver most of it (even with their huge gamble near the end, I have to trust them that their future installments won't disappoint and hopefully won't ruin what has been a beloved story to many fans worldwide).

Don't know how many installments this current Final Fantasy 7 story will be told over, but since director Tetsuya Nomura had mentioned that work on chapter 2 is already underway, I'm still hooked to see what's going to happen in the next chapters lying ahead. It's just a shame that we need to wait ages for the next chapter to arrive.

Rating: 8.5/10 (Can't give much higher since it's just a first chapter and Square Enix did made a huge gamble of re-imagining it, needs subsequent chapters to see how it eventually turns out in the end)

Someday or One Day 想见你 (2019 - 2020)

With all major film releases postponed or cancelled due to coronavirus outbreak, coupled with recent MCO (movement control order) enforced by the government to contain the outbreak, one could expect that the situation spells doom for entertainment to any of us cinemagoers. Oh well. Here comes this brilliant Taiwanese drama series, highly recommended by a good friend of mine, that I must give it a try, with a bet that I'll definitely love it.

Truthfully speaking, I was quite sceptical at first, as no TV series (that I've watched in the past) has never made me truly satisfied until the end. Most TV series are overly long with draggy, repeated scenes, filled with over-developed supporting characters that doesn't contribute much to the story that it tries to present and the list goes on.

I've made a decision to give this 13-episode Taiwanese drama TV series a chance in the end after seeing rave reviews about it. Turns out my friend was right after all. I loved it. This is a very emotional, well-paced, well-planned time-travelling coming-of-age romance mystery drama that stretches and redefines what it means by "fate and destiny".

First and foremost, I have to admit that, like any other Asian TV series that comes before, this series does have a few similar issues like cringe-worthy dialogues, melodramatic scenes and plot conveniences here and there (but lesser than expected). However, that doesn't deter much from watching the series. The series starts quite sadly but honestly by the end of episode 3, I was hooked by the 'surprise'.

The series takes time to develop the characters to allow us to get emotionally attached with every one of them. Hence, it requires patience from the audience in the beginning to receive the "gradual and subsequent" huge payoffs that comes later in the 2nd half of the series (which starts from episode 7 onwards). The twists and turns presented will left you extremely shocked and surprised for every single episode!

The basic premise of the TV series is that a 27-year old woman, Huang Yu Xuan, who's still grieving after the death of her boyfriend, Wang Quan Sheng, 2 years ago. Due to a strange occurence, she ends up waking in the hospital in the body of a high school student, Chen Yun Ru 20 years in the past. Mysteriously, Chen Yun Ru and her classmate Li Zi Wei look surprisingly identical to Huang Yu Xuan and Wang Quan Sheng! A lot of unexpected twists and turns unravelled as the series goes further.

It's so much more than just romance! The compellingness of time-travelling aspect of this drama has made each subsequent episode so suspenseful and surprisingly meaningful (especially the romance) when the revelation is provided to the audience later on. The timeline is well thought-out and well-explained as well, to prevent audience from being confused. Oh God! The less you know about the series before watching it, the better!

I loved how the relationships built throughout the series, making each character fully fleshed out. Each of the character storylines are impactful and moving. The series also ends remarkably satisfactory as well (for me at least, for once, after some thoughtful analysis). I can't believe "Young and Dangerous" was referenced twice in this series! The series doesn't betray and adhere the "logics and rules" of the various plot points that they've shown and set earlier on.

Lastly, the melodramatic scenes won't work without the fantastic songs that being included in the series. I can't help myself liking Wu Bai's 'Last Dance' and Miss You 3000, even after the countless plays throughout the scenes in the series.

Ironically, I find it quite fitting that I get to watch this series and Final Fantasy 7 remake (a 23-year old game with exceptional storyline that's recently been remade and released now with latest high-end graphics, it also shares similar themes of life, death, fate, destiny and predeterminism) at the same time as well.

For those who haven't watch this brilliant series, I highly recommend and urge you to watch this ASAP, before the MCO ends!!!

Rating: 9/10 (Highly Recommended!)