Thursday, July 29

Tag: Fantasy

Review: We Can Be Heroes (2020)
Movie Review

Review: We Can Be Heroes (2020)

Super child heroes are the epicenter of We Can Be Heroes (2020) In an interview with NPR back in 2003, writer/director/editor/anything-he-can-do-he-will-do filmmaker Robert Rodriguez mentioned that he prefers working at nights and spends day-time hours with his kids (mostly named after cool things he would have in his movies). No wonder that every once in a while, amidst his grindhouse-inspired and comic book style filmography, he will create some family-friendly kid movies that bring along his trademark elements—comic book style heroes, cutting-edge gadgets, Latin relatives, and quirky plots most importantly. On the Christmas Day, the director revisits his 2005 creation, The Adventure of Sharkboy and Lava Girl, and expands it into a more wholesome, lite superhero action, We Can Be Her...
Review: Soul (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Soul (2020)

Jamie Foxx behind Joe Gardner in Pixar's Soul (2020) With Soul—released straight to Disney Plus on Christmas Day, Pixar grows more mature and sophisticated, but never loses the heart. Co-directed by Pete Docter (Inside Out) and playwright Kemp Powers (One Night in Miami), this jazzy soul-seeking odyssey between New York and the hypothetical astral field is like an adult-oriented drama version of Docter's 2015 work. That being said, kid-friendly feature works on surface level; but, underneath, there's a more philosophical and subliminal layers that only appeal for adult viewers grasping the meaning between life, death, and ideas beyond those distinctions. (more…)
Review: Apples (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Apples (2020)

When Aristotle wrote Poetics, he wouldn't have predicted how dramatic narrative will shift in his homeland of what we now know as Greece. After the umpteenth New Waves that had been on the tide for centuries, the current wave, especially in the film narrative dubbed as Greek Weird Wave, has moved to somewhat blend the mythical trait from the oral narrative era with bizarre drama and black comedy as shown in the work of Yorgos Lanthimos, Panos Koutras, Athina Rachel Tsangari, and recently in Babis Makridis' Pity. The directorial debut of Christos Nikou, frequent collaborator of Lanthimos, titled Apples adds to the very same long list with a peculiar story about a lonely man living in a pandemic world. Only the melancholy that looms can compensate the sheer bizarreness that the story exudes...
Review: Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Diana Prince a.k.a. Wonder Woman, portrayed as eloquently as ever by Gal Gadot, makes a sweet come back in Wonder Woman 1984, set in the titular year at least 66 years after she's last seen in the Armistice of 11 November. The heroine is currently living a serene routine as Smithsonian Institution expert in Washington while cautiously and secretly helping people and fighting crimes. When an ambitious con-artist, Max Lord (Pedro Pascal), comes up with a foul plot that might cause ridiculously mythical cataclysms around the world and turn an innocent gemologist and Diana's colleague, Barbara Minerva (Kirsten Wiig), into an apex predator like never before, she must take her super-heroine mantle once more even when she's faced to the ultimate vulnerability she doesn't know she has. (more&...
Review: Hubie Halloween (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Hubie Halloween (2020)

The sixth movie in Adam Sandler's 6-movie contract with Netflix (which has eventually extended to 10 movies ever since) arrives as a Halloween deadpan comedy. Sandler, a manchild named Hubie Dubois, is the city pariah living in Salem. Everyone in the town seems to love to ridicule and pick on him for nonsensical reasons. And yet, this Halloween, things might have changed for good... or for worse. (more…)
Review: Mystery of the Dragon Seal / The Iron Mask (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Mystery of the Dragon Seal / The Iron Mask (2020)

Who would have thought that Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger would appear together in a movie again? Last time they shared a screen together, it was in the remake of Around the World in 80 Days—the latter's final movie before his gubernatorial duty. Strange but true, the latest collaboration between the two action heroes from the bygone era is in a bizarre Russian-Chinese adventure flick, Mystery of the Dragon Seal, even when their involvement is a little too minuscule. (more…)
Review: Tak Ada yang Gila di Kota Ini / No One is Crazy in This Town (2019)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Tak Ada yang Gila di Kota Ini / No One is Crazy in This Town (2019)

Tak Ada yang Gila di Kota Ini flows like a realist narrative in Eka Kurniawan's short story. While, in fact, the story is a series of oddities and elusive dark humor that happen normally in the author's universe. Built upon implicit social commentaries and symbolism-by-symbolism, the story is knitted only by the surreal events that resemble "narrative." When young director, Wregas Bhanuteja (Lemantun, Prenjak), adapts it into a short film of the same title, he opts to stick in with his interpretation and, truth be told, he's adept at it. (more…)
Review: Doctor Sleep (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Doctor Sleep (2019)

To call Doctor Sleep a direct sequel for Stanley Kubrick's The Shining might somehow be unfair. Based on Stephen King's 2013 novel of the same title—which indeed is a sequel, this silver-screen adaptation takes the visual references from Kubrick's film. Here's the complication. King openly sounds his disagreement upon Kubrick's adaptation, citing their contrasting beliefs on some characters' motivation to be the source. However, King also approves the harrowing imagery the director had created1. Writer/director/editor Mike Flanagan (one of the finest working horror-directors for Oculus, Hush, Before I Wake, Ouija: Origin of Evil, Gerald's Game, The Haunting of Hill House) takes those complications as an advantage; hence, his excellent, blockbuster-y adaptation. Doctor Sleep sets in the...
Review: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019)

Albeit prudent, Disney's Maleficent is a lousy retelling of the Sleeping Beauty villain. Robert Stormberg's 2014 movie starts off wonderfully, giving an enticing backstory to the mistress of evil, however, the story immediately succumbs into CGI-laden mediocrity. Only the premise, Angelina Jolie's wickedly enchanting performance, and the box office result (garnering $758 million worldwide, making it the fourth-highest-grossing movie of that year) excel in. Those factors alone have secured the way for Jolie to spearheading the sequel, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, helmed by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales' director, Joachim Rønning. Mistress of Evil serves more like a prolonged victory lap for Maleficent. The sequel reunites Jolie with Elle Fanning's Aurora and other p...
Review: Gundala (2019)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Gundala (2019)

Gundala, based on a comic book series by Hasmi, is set to kick-start the ambitious Indonesian superheroes' shared universe projected as 'Jagad Sinematik BumiLangit' or 'BumiLangit Cinematic Universe' (mainly inspired by the renowned Marvel Cinematic Universe and the now-defunct DC Extended Universe). To set the grand plan—which includes 8 movies for its first phase with, at least, 19 known characters announced—in motion, Gundala must translate the comic book story into a grounded, do-able and entertaining cinematic experience that can distance itself from the million-dollar Hollywood influence. To helm this showpiece, Joko Anwar (A Copy of My Mind, Satan's Slave) is the most obvious choice to have the integrity and vision to decipher all the codes. Anwar treats the movie as an origin ...
Review: Weathering with You / 天気の子 / Tenki no Ko (2019)
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review: Weathering with You / 天気の子 / Tenki no Ko (2019)

Reverberating the idyllic fantasy romance of Your Name that transcends time and space, Makoto Shinkai crafts another coming-of-age romance. If Your Name serves as the spiritual answer to 5 Centimeters per Second; his new animation, Weathering with You a.k.a. Tenki no Ko is undoubtedly the spiritual answer to his rain-soaking The Garden of Words. The parallels to Shinkai's works in this weather-bending romance are crystal clear. Weathering with You, strange as the title sounds, plays out with another Shinkai's wildest dream. The narrative dances in the rain from the very beginning making such a cold welcome to its protagonist. It follows a runaway, Hodaka (Kotaro Daigo), fleeing his island to neon-bathing Tokyo that has rained for days on end. Despair for living, he's sheltered and hire...
Review: The Divine Fury (2019)
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review: The Divine Fury (2019)

Midnight Runners' director, Kim Joo-hwan returns with a new blockbuster that reunites him with the Runners' star, Park Seo-joon. Combining the corniest elements of exorcism horror and comical action-hero tropes, The Divine Fury is a gothic action fantasy which immediately reminds us of Constantine minus the angelic apparitions. From spiritual imagery of Catholicism, priests chanting prayers in Latin to expel demons, to fistfight against demon-possessed people, you are up for an action-packed ride full of blood, holy waters and... campiness, nevertheless. The Divine Fury seems to seam unlikely components into one helluva narrative drive. The story roots on an enticingly crafted mythos of the Dark Bishop, a worshipper of the evil Holy Serpent. Dark Bishop corrupts problematic people and ...
Review Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
Movie Review

Review Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

A lot of things happened in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the last two years. There was the Snap in Avengers: Infinity War that dusted half of the humanity; and there was the Blip in Avengers: Endgame, which brought everyone back. The earth’s mightiest heroes annihilated Thanos and his orders but also suffers an enormous casualty, making the whole victory a Pyrrhic one. Since then, the world changes, people adapt accordingly and Spider-Man: Far From Home attempts to address the post-Endgame world with a homecoming. (more…)
Review Dark Phoenix (2019)
Movie Review

Review Dark Phoenix (2019)

It's time to bid farewell to the X-Men saga we once knew since 2000. Surviving for almost two decades, the franchise has gone through ups (X-Men, X2, X-Men: First Class, Days of Future Past) and downs (X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: Apocalypse). When it's high, it's soaring high, setting the bar high for other comic book movies; but, when it's down, it's down low. The mutant saga, known for its serious allegory to the marginalized people living in this harsh world, deserves an, at least, meaningful closure. It's sad that for the final showdown (to mark the end of the Fox era before the possible Disney-fueled reincarnation), X-Men is inclined to wrap it moderately with Dark Phoenix a.k.a. a missing chance. (more…)

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