Saturday, 29 June 2013

Movie Review: Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2 is a delightful, hilarious, surprisingly sweet, fast-paced follow-up to the 2010 hit. The plot moves efficiently and improved on the characters whom audience enjoyed when watching the 1st film.

It's fun to watch Gru's over-protectiveness and love to the adopted orphans, especially Margo, since she's growing up and becoming a teenager now. Edith still as tomboyish as before and Agnes is still cute, sweet and downright adorable, her moments with Gru are both heart-warming...your heart just melts just by looking at them. The presence of a new romantic interest for Gru is widely welcomed as well. However, the focus of changing Gru from a villain to a hero made the film somehow a bit lacking or slightly incomplete (as the numerous gadgets or villainy plot found in the original is not present anymore).

There's a lot of simple yet funny, entertaining stand-alone Minions 'laugh-out-loud' scenes in the film. The Minions are just simply utterly irresistible to watch. The film managed to provide a decent balance of Gru orphans scenes with the Minions scenes.Moreover, the role of Minions in the film is increased further compared to the original. 

Overall, the sequel is just as good as the original, or I would say, slightly better due to the entertainment value presented throughout the film. The film leaves you feeling joyful and satisfied when you walk out of the theaters.I'm just hoping that they won't be making too much sequels to ruin it in the end, much like what happened to Ice Age.

Rating: 8/10

Movie Review: Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen could be one of the best action thriller of the year, or the new 'Die Hard' movie for 2013 (better than the awful, despicable A Good Day to Die Hard released earlier). The strengths of the film were the well-executed, fast-paced exhilarating action scenes,and surprisingly the character development and plot as well.

The plot for the White House (Secret Service Code: "Olympus") take-over is well made and carefully shown throughout the 1st half of the film.The film is remarkably violent; there's a high body count and you can see blood splattering everywhere.The film gives the characters enough depth for the audience to care about them. The antagonists of the film are clearly bad and should be taken seriously. Although the siege is quite implausible and requires suspension of disbelief (the sudden attack is too well-organized), but it is still a movie worth watching, it is what Die Hard 5 should have been.

Rating: 7.5/10

Movie Review: Now You See Me

Now You See Me is a fast-paced crime action thriller about 4 gifted magicians - illusionist, mentalist, escape artist, pickpocket mindbender brought together as a team to perform 3 different major magic acts which actually turns out to be well-planned, well-executed heists that managed to ridicule the authorities. 

Although the ending is flimsy, the plot has several consistency issues and magic heist tricks performed is implausible, but the spectacle succeeds at distracting and holds your interest long enough until the credits roll. There are several unexpected plot twists in the film which may surprise the audience. The magic heist tricks keeps you guessing how it was done until they reveal how they do most of the tricks. It also makes you anticipate and wonder what comes next after the 1st and 2nd act.

The film features an emsemble cast consists of outstanding, talented actors to drive the story. However, the film loses out on character development for each individual due to the nature of the story (the film focused on plot development instead). The film is an exaggerated version of Ocean's Eleven and The Prestige...which is fun, entertaining, thrilling at the same time and I certainly enjoyed it.

Rating: 8/10

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Movie Review: Monster University

Monsters University is another disappointing film from Pixar after Cars 3 and Brave...not for the kids though, but for many adults who enjoyed or loved Pixar past works as it doesn't have the 'Pixar magic' that many would want to see on the big screen.

Compared with Pixar's past successful works, Monsters University lacks an imaginative, creative story that invoke feelings of wonder that makes most audience feel pleased aesthetically, emotionally and intellectually at the same time...something that draws you into it, make you want to care. The film lacks an emotional punch like Sulley's relationship with Boo in Monsters Inc as we all know that Mike and Sully will eventually become best friends. What so special about past Pixar films is that they normally have the drama that makes you filled with feelings of anticipation and uncertainty as you're watching them.

The artistic side of the film is still amazing to watch, but it has a slim, simple formulaic plot and theme that many adult audience would find it extremely familiar with most typical American college/university comedy films found out there, albeit with monsters this time around. It's filled with all possible college movie cliches and it heavily relies on your knowledge with Monsters Inc to feel emotionally engaged with the characters.

Nevertheless, most kids will definitely find it enjoyable and entertaining due to the simple nature of its plot, more cute, lovable characters and some heartwarming scenes. It may not be as exciting and wonderful for as many would have thought it will be, but it may still entertain you nonetheless.It's still recommended for parents to bring the kids to watch this.

Rating: 7/10

For the short film - The Blue Umbrella: The photo-realistic techniques used for the film (the reflection of water, lighting, coloring) is very detailed and impressive, but compared with previous Pixar shorts like Presto, Partly Cloudy, Lifted, etc, this one falls short in making a lasting impression with the audience.

Movie Review: World War Z

World War Z is a thrilling, serious and considerably fresh apocalyptic zombie action film despite its overused premise. The film shows the beginnings of the viral outbreak and witness how the world starts to spin out of control through the eyes of a person. It makes you feel like you're experiencing the outbreak with the characters as well. Keep in mind though, the film not only focused on a few characters or family, but the whole world.

The film is targeted at the mass audience, so the zombie makeup effects aren't scary or gory as they should be and most of the conventional overused fright scenes aren't really present in the film. The outbreak in confined spaces such as the flight scene is well made.

There's an unpredictable twist in the film which I find it quite funny when it happens.The film is not as terrible as many had said about it, it's definitely better than most resident evil sequels and Will Smith's I Am Legend. The film does provide a satisfactory ending but leaves the door open for a sequel as no definitive solution is found to stop the outbreak.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, 17 June 2013

Movie Review: Epic

Epic may not be as 'epic' as its title suggests, but it's a satisfactory fantasy adventure animation that might be enjoyable for a much younger audience. It's not bad by any means, the story is well-paced, heartwarming, made with a heart, the animation is beautiful and captivating as well. It is shown throughout the film that the visual artists did took a considerable amount of effort and time to create the production designs and visuals.
However, the plot and dialogues written for the film are too generic and simplistic for most adults to watch. The film lacks originality since it's loosely based on a children fantasy book. It's not easy to produce an animation that appeals to children and adults at the same time nowadays, since Pixar had raised the bar with each effort in recent years (except the recent Brave film).
The film does have its charm, genuine emotion and filled with positive, good moral messages such as friendship, love, courage, selflessness and manage to instill environmental awareness for the younger generation as well. I do recommend this film as a decent family fare. Parents should bring their young ones along to watch it. Most young kids would probably find it entertaining and enjoyable, but most adults would probably feel disappointed if they're hoping for a Pixar marvel.

Rating: 6.5/10

Movie Review: The Hangover 3

The Hangover 3 is an extremely disappointing final installment of the 'Wolf pack' adventure. The first one is a surprise hit, an unusual comedy that's filled with bizarre, but extremely funny situations. It keeps the audience curious and wondering about what had happened to the characters throughout the film. While the 2nd one is a rehash of the original, albeit more outrageous and raunchier than its predecessor, it did managed to provide a few occasional big laughs and it's still an acceptable entertaining comedy. However, the 3rd is one is the laziest comedies I've ever seen to be put on the big screen. You don't really care what will happen to the characters half way through the film, some of the jokes just fall flat and tasteless to the eyes that I personally don't find it funny or entertaining at all. Is 'accidentally' killing a giraffe supposed to be funny? What the hell? It's a relief that they finally stopped producing any more sequels.That this is the end of it. One of the worst film of 2013. What a waste of time.

Rating: 4.5/10

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Movie Review: Man of Steel

Man of Steel, similar to Batman Begins, is a serious, realistic, visually stunning, modernised take on Superman and his origins for the new generation, which is a solid step in the right direction for the character.This is the second Superman film in 25 years, as there hasn't been a Superman movie since 2006 (Superman Returns) and before that, not since 1987. Safely to say, this is the Superman film most DC fans have been waiting for.
A straightforward, character-driven story about a boy, who was not born of this world, who had the power to change the world, being taught by his protective adopted parents to limit himself, pressured to control his powers along with his emotions and use them responsibly since young - to not be so fast, not be so strong, not be so powerful, in fear that he will hurt others or even himself. As a result of that, psychologically, he's afraid of himself, feel isolated and alone, self-doubt, being ashamed of what he's truly capable of. On the other hand, his biological parents see his son's potential to be the symbol of hope for all mankind - a source of inspiration and goodness, and not fall into the same footsteps as them (Kryptonians). He needs to make a choice.
This is what most fans had been waiting for ages - to see a relatable, realistic modern age superman that 'can' exist in the real world. A story that truly defines Superman's modern age persona, his core essence - searching and understanding his purpose for being here on Earth...Another rare comic book film which deals with some profound questions, ideas, perspectives and makes us think.All the actors and actresses deliver their best performances for the film(heck, what do you expect?...some of them are either Oscar winners or nominees).
Most of the film critics made a huge mistake for comparing Donner's version of Superman (which is loosely based on the Golden and Silver age of comic book history of the character*), with this new take of Superman (which is loosely based on the Modern age of comic book history*).Although the character's core essence may be roughly similar to each other, but they are not identical. The modern age Superman still retains his charms and wits (in a different way), but he is not meant to be light-hearted or joyful as Donner's Superman. Snyder's Superman is loosely based on All-Star Superman, The New 52, Superman: Earth One and Superman Birthright.
It is worth noting that all of the special effect sequences in the film, combined with Han Zimmer's epic scores are superb and managed to keep the audience on the edge of their seats throughout the film - the scenes where Clark soars through the sky, breaking the sound barrier...the sheer scale of the fights between the Kryptonians...etc, simply fits how a Superman should be portrayed on the big screen.It shows that the filmmakers have a perfect understanding of Superman's powers and abilities.However, considering the overwhelming wide-scale urban destruction happened as a result of Superman fighting Zod...What's next? How they're going to introduce Superman's far more deadly adversaries - Darkseid, Doomsday or Brainiac in the future? The decimation of the entire planet?
The weakest aspect of this movie is the Lois/Superman relationship. Since the movie is too focused on Superman, the relationship between Superman and Lois felt a little rushed and underdeveloped.The on-screen chemistry between them is simply not convincing enough to be believable...since there's not much on-screen interaction between them in the film.
Many of the supporting characters are not fully developed (Perry White, Jimmy Olsen,Dr. Hamilton...) as a consequence of fitting in more epic, jaw-dropping action sequences. I'm not particularly fond of the gloomy outlook/darker atmosphere that surrounds the entire movie (the choice of using dark muted colours and high contrast for the film), it's acceptable...But, I wished they could have brighten up the colours in the next sequel (Possibly to make the special effects looked more realistic I suppose). The non-linear story-telling worked well, the film never drags and it managed to transition effectively from current time to flashbacks as we see the character is slowly developed. But, there's a drawback to this as it occasionally hurts the flow and pacing of the story as well.
After a 2nd viewing of the film, it is found out that there's a major character flaw in the film as a result of Snyder's direction...he was too focused on delivering the action spectacle to the audience that he forgot one of the core essence of Superman's character - his commitment to save and protect as many innocent lives as possible during battle. He always trying to prevent or minimize civilian casualties while fighting with his adversaries at the same time...which often costing Superman the strategic advantage he had for the fight. While fighting with Zod in the film, Superman's utter disregard for the collateral damage, the lack of concern to millions of lives remained in the city as he kept crashing through buildings full of survivors or provide any assistance to people who are still buried under all that rubble, dead or dying during the destruction is simply not him...
Another important point to address: there seems to be controversy that Superman doesn't kill. The answer is no. Although some Superman comic book writers will disagree with this, but in general, when the inevitable situation comes and he was forced to do it, unlike Batman, he will do it.

Overall, it's astounding, epic, spectacular. It's the most anticipated movie of the year and it delivers. This new cinematic take on the Superman mythos is a worthy interpretation of the 75 year old icon.(The character was created in 1938). The Man of Steel may failed to win the hearts of critics, but it certainly won the hearts of many fans. Many thanks to writer David Goyer and director Zack Snyder for bringing back Superman his long-lost coolness, re-establish him in today's modern world and make him more relatable. Finally, the origin depicted in the film will let people have a better understanding of who Superman is. Finally, the people know what the 'S' symbol stands for - the symbol of the House of El and Hope. From now on, no one will ever think of Superman the same way again. Finally, the man of steel reclaims his title as the world's greatest superhero.
Now, just as Man of Steel is to Batman Begins, I'm extremely hopeful for a groundbreaking, phenomenal sequel that transcends the superhero genre to become one of the best films of the decade...much like The Dark Knight, for the Man of Tomorrow.

NOTE: Watch out for the easter eggs...Bruce Wayne might be ok about it, but I bet Lex Luthor would be extremely pissed considering most the properties he owns are either damaged or non-existent now. :)

Rating: 7.5/10 

**For better understanding, the following are the periods in the history of American comic books, each of them features socially relevant storylines based on real-world issues on that particular time span:
  • Golden Age of Comic Books (c.1938 — c.1950)
  • Silver Age of Comic Books (1956-c.1970)
  • Bronze Age of Comic Books (c.1970-c.1985)
  • Modern Age of Comic Books (c.1985-Present)

"You were sent here for a reason...and even if it takes the rest of your life, you owe it to yourself to find out what that reason is...You just have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be, Clark. Whoever that man is, he's going to change the world..." - Jonathan Kent

"You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They'll race behind you. They'll stumble. They'll fall. But, in time, they'll join you in the sun. In time, you'll help them accomplish wonders." - Jor El