The LEGO Ninjago Movie (2017) – Review

Review: The LEGO Ninjago Movie unfolds how the exhilarating idea of presenting a pop-culture-laden animation based on brick toys could falter quickly. It’s only been three years since Chris Miller and Phil Lord first spawned The LEGO Movie in 2014; but, this third film in LEGO franchise shows that the formula starts getting worn off.

It still offers electric bantz, refreshing gags and zillion references to pop culture—making it an enjoyable joyride. However, Ninjago’s lack of innovative formula starts showing the symptoms when it is often caught playing and recycling ideas used in LEGO Movie and LEGO Batman Movie to use in a different terrain. You’re not wrong when you think you have a déjà vu while watching this.

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Wind River (2017) – Review

Review: In Wind River, Taylor Sheridan again demonstrates a prowess he once showcased on writing tenure for Sicario and Hell or High Water. His painstaking flair for slick and immaculate script—with penchant to coherence and symmetrical storyline—is utterly exquisite. With Sheridan running for both writing and directing gigs, we finally get to see his full-creative-control mode; and, lucky you, it’s taut and clever as you might imagine.

The title refers to a snow-covered Native American reservation in Wyoming, which becomes the setting of this film. It’s the place where a hunter, Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner), resides. As he tracks a wild mountain lion who preys on local cattles, the all-white-camouflaged hunter accidentally finds a local girl’s body… dead and stark. For the case, FBI sends rookie Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen), who immediately team up with Lambert to investigate it.

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Detroit (2017) – Review

Review: As timely and important than ever, Kathryn Bigelow’s Detroit makes an unsettling yet poignant film about racism-induced Afro-American uprising in Detroit circa 1967. While Bigelow presents downtown Detroit riot in Hurt Locker fashion where smoke soaring high and dusty ruins are practically adorning every corner of the city, it’s not the carnage which is highlighted; but, the root of it all: white’s oppression.

Combining real footage with sharp recreations of the event, Detroit immediately plunges into the warzone, displaying the horror and volatile circumstances. Without warning and proper exposition, pivotal characters—including racist cops, undervalued security guard, white girls among black, black ‘Nam veteran & black musicians—are introduced and lured into the climactic standoff patiently; while audiences are expected to draw the thread between them. Circumstances, characters and the film’s message culminate in robust one-location havoc in a place called Motel Algiers.

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Berlin Syndrome (2017) – Review

Review: Teresa Palmer showcases a vigorously bold performance in Cate Shortland’s kidnapping drama, Berlin Syndrome. Adapting Melanie Joosten’s novel of the same title, Shortland creates a placid drama-thriller by devising sense of claustrophobic and two-person dynamic with Palmer as the center.

Portraying an aspiring Brisbane-based photographer named Clare, Palmer’s eyes unravel her character’s passionate spirit to find an adventure as a solo traveler in Berlin. It’s during her tenure in Berlin’s street that she meets a charismatic yet restrained schoolteacher, Andi (Max Riemelt, Sense8). There are some electric touches and reluctance before they finally engage in consent, non-commitment one-night stand. In the morning after, Clare wakes up to find that she is locked in Andi’s apartment, suggesting that the man simply forgets to leave the key for her. When the next morning she finds herself locked again, she finally realizes that Andi isn’t going to let her free. She’s simply kidnapped.

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Little Evil (2017) – Review

Review: It takes nearly 7 years for Eli Craig, writer-director of the 2010 horror-comedy sensation, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, to finally spawn a Netflix-produced sophomore project entitled Little Evil. Similar to what he’s done in his previous feature, Craig once again plays out with horror clichés and extracts a fresh spoof, which would test and tease audience’s references with clear-cut hilarity.

In Little Evil, Eli Craig spoofs clichés from spooky-kid films, incorporating tropes from Rosemary’s Baby and, most obviously, The Omen. Simply look at the poster and you’ll see the alleged prodigal son (striking a pose like Damien in Omen) taking up the axis between his biological mother, Samantha (Evangeline Lilly) and his stepfather, Gary (Adam Scott). That kid (portrayed by Owen Atlas) is, as the title might suggest, the little evil—the spooky kid in Eli Craig’s horror-comedy.

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Midnight Runners (2017) – Review

Review: In Midnight Runners, writer-director Johan Kim recycles classic buddy cop tropes into a same-old-brand-new comedy-thriller, which benefits from chemistry of the leads, Park Seo-joon and Kang Ha-neul. It’s indeed a heroic story of two South Korean cop trainees, but, it’s also simply funny, entertaining, action-packed and sweet at the same time.

Gi-joon (Seo-joon) and Hee-yeol (Ha-neul) become unlikely best friends during their horrendous training, despite their completely different background and characters. One day, they witness an assault and kidnapping during their disastrous romance-seeking tenure in Gangnam. Despite the odds against them, they have to implement what they have learned in police academy in a real-life situation with real human life as the risk.

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Movie reviews, ratings, and discussions by Paskalis Damar