Review The Pool (2019)

The Pool is frustrating (at least for the audiences) and claustrophobic thriller which tries its luck, ironically, on bad luck and ignorance, which probes no sympathy.

A couple is foolishly trapped in an abandoned 6-meter-deep pool… without water, without ladder, without any visible way out. From the premise, Ping Lumpraploeng’s The Pool seems to offer a frustrating, claustrophobic thriller assembling the force of bad luck and the consequence of ignorance. It immediately reminds me to Open Water series (especially the second installment) where sheer stupidity and malaise jeopardize people’s life. While it sounds nonsensical and exaggerating, some of its suspense might work even better if the movie does not give away most of the thrills so easily.

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Review John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Relentlessly leaping from various orgasmic, nerve-racking action set pieces to ever-expanding world building that probes for self-deducing, Parabellum is a wickedly lethal chapter.

You must never forget how this wicked gun-fu revivalist saga started. The titular character, John Wick (Keanu Reeves), is a retired assassin who wreaked havoc and slaughtered a horde of mobsters in retribution for the death of his beloved dog. Absurd as the premise might sound, the first movie instead spawns a new icon—celebrated for the gun-fu bravura, the devotion to over-kill and the underworld myth-building. The second chapter cements Wick’s reputation deeper and further digs the myth that becomes more obscure as the titular character reluctantly honoring a blood oath he made a few years back, only to be double-crossed. At the end of it, Wick is declared ‘excommunicado‘ and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum begins the minute Wick run for his life.

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Review Brightburn (2019)

While overstaying the welcome a bit too long, Brightburn still delivers its visionary premise of a superhero origin story turning into a visceral horror.

A visionary horror director turned into one of the most sought after superhero director, James Gunn (with gigs ranging from self-defining Slither and Super to Marvel’s space-misfits, Guardians of the Galaxy and further forward to DC’s second attempt to prolong the live of Suicide Squad), produced a visionary genre-bending superhero origin movie deep rooted into horror core in Brightburn. Directed by a little known horror director, David Yarovesky based on the screenplay written by James’ brother and cousin, Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn, this horror superhero story throws a very enticing premise: what if some kind of Superman figure was actually sent to Earth as an evil offspring as in The Omen?

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Review Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Detective Pikachu’s bold attempt to craft an independent story out of an overly established franchise only results in a parade of cute pokémons with small flickering jolts and less exultation.

Warner Bros’ attempt to revamp the Pokémon franchise with an independently standalone live-action is simply a go-big-or-go-home move. While the story is based on a game of the same title, Detective Pikachu basically ditches most minor elements that usually made it into Pokémon movies—including the famous Poké Ball—into some distant properties. For fans of the franchise who subsequently follows the game, this might look like an attempt not to be a verbatim adaptation; but, for casual fans, the whole idea of relegating the ‘pocket monsters’ into non-pocket-sized sidekicks might be a new invention. So, is it a blessing or otherwise?

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Review Long Shot (2019)

Theron and Rogen’s blithesome chemistry excels in this carefree political rom-com that feels somehow sincere and biting at the same time.

It’s unsurprising that Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen’s rom-com teaming up is an absolutely great idea. “Unlikely but not impossible,”as the tagline has suggested. Separately, Theron and Rogen had respectively excelled in their rom-coms (in which their characters are both troubled with some sort of identity crises)—the former in Young Adult and the latter in Knocked Up. In Long Shot—a political rom-com spawned from Dan Sterling’s story, co-penned with Liz Hannah, both stars once again excel as their blithesome chemistry ripened under the direction by 50/50 director, Jonathan Levine.

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Review The Wandering Earth / 流浪地球 (2019)

The premise and production value of The Wandering Earth is otherworldly stunning; while the well-intended movie isn’t without flaw.

Dubbed as the first ever ‘proper’ Chinese interstellar blockbuster, Frant Gwo’s The Wandering Earth flaunts more than just an ambitious spectacle; but, the entire industry’s pride in orchestrating a cinematic milestone. Adapted from Cixin Liu’s award-winning novella, this kind of “cancelling the apocalypse” (borrowing the term from Idris Elba’s character in Pacific Rim) can only be a massive production or nothing at all. And, this adaptation opted to go the former way and, since then, it becomes a mega-hit. Before long, Netflix picked it up and The Wandering Earth really wanders to flaunt its extravagant ambitions.

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Review 27 Steps of May (2019)

Raihaanun delivers a stark and raw yet sterling performance to become the soul of this powerful story about sexual trauma.

Director Ravi Bharwani and writer, Rayya Makarim, bring about the face of sexual trauma in the stark yet riveting 27 Steps of May. Released on the same day as Indonesia’s Women’s March, the story trots out an unapologetic study of a tragedy against humanity, especially women, and its aftermath. The message it carries is as timely and timeless as the issue itself; it’s powerful, important and urgent.

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