Review Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212 (2018)

Wiro Sableng smartly plays out on one of the source material’s finest advantage—exotic world building and exquisite characters—to craft a real blockbuster treat, despite all the flaws.

Review Wiro Sableng 212 Warrior: Wiro Sableng (trans. Crazy Wiro), a character created by Bastian Tito, is one of the most renowned & legendary martial art warriors in Indonesian comic scene—along with Panji Tengkorak (Skull Panji) and Si Buta dari Goa Hantu (Blind Warrior from Ghost Cave). From comic book, Wiro Sableng had been adapted into a several movies and, most notably, long-running television series that had gained cult-following and launched a one-hit wonder status to the star, Ken Ken. In 2018, a latest incarnation of the famous character is brought into existence by Angga D. Sasongko (Filosofi Kopi series, Bukaan 8), backed by Lifelike Pictures and Hollywood mogul, Twentieth Century Fox.

Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212 feels special in the development. Penned by Tumpal Tampubolon and Sheila Timothy with senior Indonesian author (and martial-art writer), Seno Gumira Ajidarma, the plot is straight-forward poetic justice action mixed with political turmoil in the background. Partially inspired by classic wuxia stories, the narrative also elaborates a Shakespearian dash and clash that look like Coriolanus and the lots. More enticingly, the fact that Vino G. Bastian, an interesting Indonesian actor who plays the titular role, is Bastian Tito’s son makes a real point as if all stars are aligned for this adaptation. Continue reading “Review Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212 (2018)”

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Review Christopher Robin (2018)

Albeit stuttered, Christopher Robin serves its purpose to deliver message about quality time with family.

Review Christopher Robin: Disney’s new rendition of Christopher Robin reminds me of the twist that Mark Osborne has done to Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince in 2015. At some points, the story development also has similarities to Mr. Holmes. However, if there’s an invention to make to retell the century-long centuries of the titular character along with his animal friends, Winnie-the-Pooh and friends, Marc Foster’s Christopher Robin serves its purpose.

When it begins, the movie brought us back to Hundred Acre Woods where Christopher bid a farewell to his childhood friends before enrolling in a board-school. Then, as grown-ups say, live begins—loss, war, marriage, childbirth, career—and time flies;. The innocent, adventurous Christopher is no more; what’s left is a working-laden, grown-up Christopher (Ewan McGregor), who doesn’t even have time for a family getaway in a weekend homecoming trip. In the moment of crisis, his childhood memories cross path with his mundane, grown-up life in another Christopher Robin-esque adventure. Continue reading “Review Christopher Robin (2018)”

Review Searching (2018)

John Cho’s absorbing performance helps Searching crafting an emotional rendition of Gone Girl with internet era look.

Review Searching (2018): While the presentation using only electronic device screens is a gimmick we’ve seen in Blumhouse horror, Unfriended (2015), Searching is always a Gone Girl as viewed through screen with sense of limitation the size of Rear Window (instead the window is an artificial window—be it browser window or chat window).

It opens with a montage of Kim family’s history as seen via a Windows XP PC from the moment that Margot (Michelle La) was born to a happy Korean-American couple, David (John Cho) and Pam (Sara Sohn). There goes a happy growing-up together montage that kind of reminding me to Up (2009). Yet, it wasn’t long until the tragedy comes. After a series of unanswered phone and FaceTime calls, Margot never shows up. She’s gone, technically missing (soon to be presumed dead?). Through projected screens of iPhones, PC and MacBooks, David browses through social media, search engine and every resource he can find on the web to find his missing child. Continue reading “Review Searching (2018)”

Review To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)

The saccharine-heavy rom-com effectively uses its overly familiar ‘fake-first-date’ tropes to make a sweet & uplifting teenage love without over-abusing its sugary potential.

Review To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before: “Make Teenage Romcom Great Again” should’ve been a tagline Susan Johnson’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (referred as To All the Boys on later paragraphs) carrying because it indeed does it. Based on a novel of the same title by Jenny Han, this Netflix production is a clichéd, sugary romcom with manipulated yet effective plot that will make audiences smile ear to ear.

To All the Boys revolves around the life of a 16 y.o. Korean-American girl, Lara Jean (Lana Condor, Jubilee in X-Men: Apocalypse) who loves to read romance novels and fantasize her older sister boyfriend who happens to be their next-door neighbor, Josh (Israel Broussard, The Bling Ring). When her older sister, Margot, leaves to pursue education in Scotland, Lara Jean is living a mundane life with her father and her little sister, Kitty, but not for long. An embarrassing incident happens, letters—that Lara Jean has written to the boys he used to love/have crush on but she never actually sent—unknowingly get sent to the addressees, which includes Josh and a childhood crush,  Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo—the guy from Camila Cabello’s Havana), a jock and boyfriend of her high-school (sort of) rival. Continue reading “Review To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (2018)”

Review Mile 22 (2018)

Injected with exuberant energy (especially with Iko Uwais’ relentlessly slick action sequences), Mile 22 wasted it off with inconvenient hip-hop montage, bad writings, bad narrative-structures and ridiculous dialogues.

Review Mile 22: It’s disheartening that, unlike Peter Berg’s previous three works (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day) which shows his craftsmanship in authentically reenacting tragedy with blatant details but smooth side for sympathy, Mile 22 is more like a mess here and there. The blatant details are mostly missed; the sympathy are stripped off completely; sadly, the heart of the narrative that excels in his previous movies is non-existent.

Bringing back his favorite collaborator, Mark Wahlberg, to team up with hottest action stars, such as Ronda Rousey and Iko Uwais (The Raid, The Raid 2, Beyond Skyline), Mile 22 seems to promise relentless spectacles. At least, the premise might look enticing as we are lured to the movie’s opening raid sequence which shows us a lot of explosions, blood and bullets. From there, it’s apparent that Berg tries to showcase style-over-substance action machismo with exuberant energy. However, as the story progress, it’s clearly seen that the energy isn’t channeled properly. Continue reading “Review Mile 22 (2018)”

Review Sebelum Iblis Menjemput / May the Devil Take You (2018)

Sebelum Iblis Menjemput is the prodigal cousin of Evil Dead.

Timo Tjahjanto’s (half of The Mo Brothers) May the Devil Take You (originally titled ‘Sebelum Iblis Menjemput‘) is the prodigal cousin of Evil Dead who lives too far abroad that it gets tangled deeper in the hardcore nastiness of occultism. The nightmare it introduces might feel close and yet so far; but then, this bone-chilling and blood-gushing diabolical phantasmagoria is a guaranteed tough watch. It’s definitely not for the fainted heart; but, most definitely, it’s not for the pious heart.

Pedantic resemblances to its influence is inevitable, however, May the Devil Take You is bold enough to differ in all its nightmarish way. While it’s a cabin-in-the-wood story—only the cabin is changed into an abandoned resting villa (well, it’s a holiday cabin for Indonesians after all) with a ridiculously hard locked door to basement and a strange entity’s first-person POV as well, it’s not a groovy ordeal; it’s a pure horror that embraces every notion in Stephen King’s infamous quote, “nightmares exist out of logic.” Continue reading “Review Sebelum Iblis Menjemput / May the Devil Take You (2018)”