Tuesday, September 19, 2017

'A Ghost Story' Is a Minimalist Supernatural Drama with a Profound Theme

A Ghost Story, despite whatever its title may suggest, is not a horror film.  It’s more of a philosophical arthouse drama with a supernatural twist that explores love, life, loss, and existence.

Directed and written by David Lowery (the same guy behind Pete’s Dragon), it stars Casey Afleck and Rooney Mara as a couple who are suddenly torn apart by a car accident. The deceased husband turns into a ghost, returning to their house to become a passive observer of the grieving wife.  He soon discovers that time now works differently on him, and as he gradually transcends it, he sets off on an existential and historical cosmic journey in search for closure and hope of rediscovering lost love.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

'Re:Creators' Fails Its Promising Premise

What if anime characters suddenly start popping out in the real world?

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The 'Transformers' Franchise Gets More Nonsensical and Inconsistent with 'The Last Knight'

First, let me state where I stand regarding the Transformers franchise.  The consensus is the films are mostly terrible.  I agree with that.  Nowhere are they as fun and appealing as the animated series it’s based from.  Whatever entertainment these movies bring, it’s primarily limited to a handful of visually-impressive action set pieces – because, for whatever failures Michael Bay has as a director, constructing action scenes isn’t one of them.  Still, there are even times these CGI-heavy action sequences get bloated, dizzying, and wobbly.  The scripts don’t make sense.  Most of the human characters are annoying (especially those in the first three ones).  The mythology is convoluted and contradicting.  Transformers, the first one, is unremarkable but actually decent.  Revenge of the Fallen is godawful – the worst among the lot, in my opinion.  Dark Side of the Moon is muddled and problematic, but it gets to “so bad, that it’s entertaining” territory.  Age of Extinction is slightly more coherent, but blander and has a bothersome amount of blatant product placements.  As a whole, they are extremely dumb, messy, lazy, unfocused, and forgettable.

Friday, September 15, 2017

'Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo' Is a Celebration of Filipino Childhood

In my review of Sing, I mentioned that it’s the last movie of 2016 I had been meaning to watch.  That’s not entirely true.  I actually wanted to watch Patintero: Ang Alamat ni Meng Patalo last year as soon as I saw its trailer.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t shown to any theaters near me last year.  And since Filipino indie films rarely get the chance of becoming available through, er, “alternative Internet sources”, I kind of became resigned to the idea that I would never get to see it.  But, to my delight, I unexpectedly found it in the Internet recently.  So, now, here’s my review (sheesh, a review for a 2016 movie this late into 2017)…

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

'Baby Driver' Rocks!

Edgar Wright is one the most brilliant filmmakers working today, displaying excellent creative vision and attention to detail in creating stylish, clever, wonderfully-conceptualized, delightfully-told, genre-celebrating films like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy (i.e. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End).  And, now, I think his latest opus, Baby Driver, deserves to be mentioned among that special lot.

Monday, September 11, 2017

'The Osiris Child' Channels Old-School, Low-Budget Scifi Movies

The Osiris Child is far from being an excellent hidden gem, and I have no doubt that many will find it boring.  It’s not for everyone.  But for those who immediately realize that it’s trying to channel the low-budget science fiction films of old, they will find the old-school familiarity it’s emitting to be somewhat endearing despite its flaws.  And, apparently, it’s kicking off a series – either an anthology or a shared universe – of throwback scifi B movies; its full title is Science Fiction Volume One: The Osiris Child (alternately, The Osiris Child: Science Fiction Volume One).

Sunday, September 10, 2017

'The Battleship Island' Is a Gripping, Insightful WW II Epic

The Battleship Island is a WW II epic about the hundreds of Koreans who were conscripted or tricked into forced labor in the mining island of Hashima, which was nicknamed “Battleship Island” because of its similarity in shape with the Japanese battleship Tosa.  It follows an ensemble of characters as they suffer through perils and persecution, and how they eventually decide to break out of that hellish place.

'The Big Sick' Is the Best Romcom Film of the Year

The Big Sick is a film loosely based on the real-life romance that happened between comedic actor Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily V. Gordon.  The script is written by the couple, and directed by Michael Showalter.  It focuses on Kumail, playing himself, when he was still a struggling stand-up comedian starting out in the business and working as a part-time Uber driver (likely a fictional detail added; the couple got married in 2007, while Uber started operation in 2009).

One night, during a gig, he meets a psychology graduate student named Emily (played in the movie by Zoe Kazan).  He hooks up with her and a relationship soon develops between the two.  However, Kumail is troubled with the thought of how his Pakistani Muslim family will react, as they intend to marry him off to a Muslim woman, per tradition.  This factor leads to a row between the couple.  But when a mysterious illness falls on Emily, requiring her to be put into a coma, Kumail finds himself bonding with her parents (played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter) and realizing how much he really loves her.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

'Suspicious Partner' Is a Papa John's Commercial Disguised as a Cute Romantic Comedy/Legal Thriller

The very first thing that made me take notice of Suspicious Partner (also known as Love in Trouble) is the playfully adorable girls on its poster (see above).  However, though they are attractive, those two actresses – Nam Ji-jyun and Kwon Nara – don’t quite command the same charm and loveliness on the actual screen as they do in that poster.  Kudos to whoever is responsible for crafting it.  It’s stirringly eye-catching.

But the main reason that made me decide to watch Suspicious Partner is Ji Chang-wook.  Prior to this, I had previously seen two K-drama series of his: Healer and The K2.  He was good in both of them, but I didn’t find him very arresting at all.  Then I saw the film Fabricated City, and I was tremendously impressed of his brilliant acting – I became kind of a fan.  He’s mostly well-known for playing characters who do martial arts, so it was interesting to see how he would fare in a non-action role in Suspicious Partner.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

4 Must-See New Kids' Cartoons


Kids’ cartoons.  There used to be a time when saying “cartoons” – specifically, Western animation – is already enough, as it was assumed that they were for kids.  Now, with many shows like The Venture Bros. and Rick and Morty around, classifying which ones are for kids and which ones are exclusively for adults is somewhat of a necessity.

Anyway, I’m currently following four new (and by “new”, I mean having debuted last year or this year) ongoing kids’ animated series.  For me, they offer delightful kid-friendly entertainment, but can be enjoyed by adults – specifically, of my generation – on a different level as well.

These are…

DuckTales
This reboot of the much adored 80’s animated series is not only oozing with nostalgic appeal, but also successfully revitalizes the property for modern audiences.  With only the pilot released so far, it has already a lot of things going for it that makes me think it can surpass the original.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

'Despicable Me 3' Shows Some Signs of Fatigue

The third installment of the Despicable Me film series sees Gru (Steve Carell) being satisfied with his life as a retired super villain and working as an Anti-Villain League agent with his wife Lucy (Kristen Wiig).  But when they get fired from the AVL for failing to capture former-child-star-turned-super-villain Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), the Minions hope that Gru would return to villainy.  To their disappointment, he refuses, and they decide to leave him.  Meanwhile, Gru learns that he has a twin brother named Dru who wants to meet him.  Visiting him in his home, Gru learns from Dru of their family’s tradition in villainy – putting a strain between the newly reunited brothers.  But when Bratt threatens the world, as well as Gru’s daughters Margo (Miranda Cosgrove), Edith (Dana Gaier), and Agnes (Nev Scharrel), Gru seeks the help of Dru and the Minions to take him down.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Netflix's Live-Action 'Death Note' Is Not Atrocious at All. It's Actually Entertaining. I Still Hated It Though.

At first, I initially had no intention of watching the Netflix live-action film remake of Death Note.  I thought it looked awful based on its trailer.  Death Note is one the greatest anime ever made.  It’s an intelligent, unique thriller.  But, per the trailer, the American version looks like generic as crap.  I didn’t want to watch something I just knew I would abhor.  But then, I went, “Okay.  If I’m going to hate this, I have to hate it right.  I should know why I hate it.”  So I watched it.

Friday, September 01, 2017

'Bushwick' Begins Well, but Fizzles on the Way

Lucy (Brittany Snow) steps out of a subway with her boyfriend intending to visit her grandmother in Bushwick, Brooklyn.  To her shock, she discovers that the familiar neighborhood has erupted into an apocalyptic urban war zone, and her boyfriend is immediately killed by a blast.  Stumbling upon a basement, she meets a war veteran named Stupe (Dave Bautista) who agrees to help her muddle through black-clad mercenaries, gangs, looting, insurgency, and chaos toward her destination.

'Rememory' Has Little Else to Offer Besides a Great Performance from Peter Dinklage

A machine that can extract, record, and play memories.  A murder mystery.  Game of Thrones star Peter Dinklage.  A posthumous appearance by Anton Yelchin.  And the pretty √Čvelyne Brochu (Orphan Black’s Delphine). All these interesting elements are in the sci-fi mystery film Rememory.  So it must be worthwhile, right?  Er, not so much.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

'Unlocked' Is a More Interesting Spy Thriller Than What I Thought It Would Be

With just a 27% approval rating in Rotten Tomatoes (as of writing), I wasn’t expecting much from Unlocked.  To my surprise, it’s not bad at all.  Yes, it contains a couple of spy thriller clich√©s, but it utilizes them well to construct a competent example of the genre.  In addition, it also has some twist and turns that genuinely subverts expectations.  Thus, though it’s not necessarily mindblowing, there’s a general sense of thrill instilled in the narrative.