Saturday, January 23

Tag: Rating: 2

Review: Mulan (2020)
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review: Mulan (2020)

Disney's live-action adaptation of Mulan is probably the boldest move the studio has taken in the recent years. Putting forward representation in the production by casting actors of Chinese descent (a mix of those familiar faces to mainstream American viewers and some fresh faces from the Mainland) with Chinese-born Liu Yifei portraying the titular character suggests the Mouse House' commitment for diversity (in the brink of fight against whitewashing in Hollywood). While seeking after an Asian director to no avail, New Zealander Niki Caro (Whale Rider and McFarland, USA) lands the job making her the second female director to helm a Disney movie (after Ava DuVernay with A Wrinkle of Time). In a critical and controversial move, Disney released it as an on-demand perk in their streaming ser...
Review: The Call / 콜 (2020)
Focus: Asia, Movie Review

Review: The Call / 콜 (2020)

There's a mysterious phone that can connect people from different time and space. Will it do more good than harm? Or otherwise? That would become the underlying questions posed by writer-director, Lee Chung-hyun, in his thriller, The Call, adaptation of a 2011 Puerto Rican-British movie, The Caller. To provide hints for the answers, he pits Park Shin-hye (recently excels in #Alive) against Jeon Jong-seo (the breakthrough star of Lee Chang-dong's Burning) in a vengeful, almost sophisticated battle that intertwines two different timelines in the process. (more…)
Review: The Dead Queen / Pedro e Inês (2018)
Movie Review

Review: The Dead Queen / Pedro e Inês (2018)

The story of Don Pedro I of Portugal and his dead queen, Inês del Castro, is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated Portuguese love story. It's an epic tragedy whose grandiose has transcended the medium of storytelling, having the most recent rendition in António Ferreira's three-fold adaptation, The Dead Queen. Instead of narrating the titular story directly, Ferreira wraps it with an umbrella story of a man, in the modern time, admitted to a psychiatric hospital for travelling by car with the corpse of his lover, and branches it off into three stories that reflect the legendary stories. (more…)
Review: Lost Girls & Love Hotels (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Lost Girls & Love Hotels (2020)

Alexandra Daddario (Percy Jackson, Baywatch) portrays Margaret, an American expat living in Japan. During the days, she coaches stewardess-in-training English pronunciation; when the night falls, she wanders around the dismal, neon-bathed Tokyo to get drunk with fellow expats or (more often than) occasionally get laid with strangers in some random love hotels—BDSM mode. She's the lost girl and Lost Girls & Love Hotels attempts to follow her self-discovery path in a strenuous, almost tedious nightly contemplation. (more…)
Review: Rebecca (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Rebecca (2020)

To step onto the path that Alfred Hitchcock had once walked into—in a hard fought creative battle against David Selznick—is indeed a dire move for British director, Ben Wheatley. Hitchcock's Rebecca is an exemplary, classic thriller to portray an invisible threat at its finest. Wheatley, adept in making horror out of people (as in Sightseers, A Field in England, and High Rise), keeps assuring that his Rebecca isn't going to follow Hitchcock's path, but to rather faithfully follow Daphne du Maurier's novel. He's got the point to avoid direct comparison to the classic; but, even so, his rendition of this psychological thriller ends up being bland, at best. (more…)
Review: The Lie (2020)
Movie Review

Review: The Lie (2020)

Remade from the 2015 German thriller, We Monster, Veena Sud's The Lie premiered in the 2018 TIFF before Blumhouse took it under 'Welcome to the Blumhouse' anthology for Amazon. The story, as the title suggests, is built upon the titular lie; but, as you might have known, a lie does not stop on the first count. There has to be another lie and another to follow and cover up. In no time, the lies had spinned out of control; and, that's basically what the movie is all about. (more…)
Review: The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020)
Movie Review

Review: The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020)

The Babysitter: Killer Queen, the follow-up to Netflix's 2017 sleeper hit—The Babysitter, brings almost every single element of the first movie in for a supposedly victory lap. Judah Lewis, portraying the protagonist, Cole, has naturally grown into a fully bloom teenager; so does Emily Alyn Lind (Doctor Sleep), who portrays his neighbor. The all-spectacular Samara Weaving does not get into immediate actions as the titular sinister babysitter, Bee; but her presence is felt throughout the movie—fuels the narrative and literally takes the steering wheel. (more…)
Review: Bloodshot (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Bloodshot (2020)

Vin Diesel single-handedly bears the burdens of spectacles in Bloodshot, a live-action adaptation of a Valiant Comics property. With narrative reminiscing the story of RoboCop, the super-human story is meant to a throwback to retro-action movies involving conspiracies, tech-wars, and cold action sequences. A while ago, Bloodshot was intended to open a certain kind of shared universe (involving another Valiant property, Harbinger); but, the idea was now scraped, even when the projects still develop, and that's possibly a correct decision. Diesel is an ex-military man who was kidnapped and assassinated with his wife (Talulah Riley). He's then brought back to life by a group of scientists led by Dr. Emil Harting (Guy Pearce) with literal bloodshot transfused into his dead body in the enti...
Review: Akhir Kisah Cinta Si Doel (2020)
Focus: Indonesia, Movie Review

Review: Akhir Kisah Cinta Si Doel (2020)

The third and final movie in Si Doel trilogy obtains the official title, Akhir Kisah Cinta si Doel (trans. The End of Doel's Love Story), for one apparent purpose> It lets the audiences finally learn that this is the endgame. This is the real finale to Si Doel's chronicle that has been going on for 27 years, starting off as a telly phenomenon before spawning television movies and pointing out at this very moment. Taking off where the second movie left out, this final part—like the previous movies—slowly crawls around the protagonist's mundane life in Jakarta suburbs as Doel (Rano Karno) ponders on the bizarre love triangle between him, his wife, Zaenab (Maudy Koesnaedi, ), and the wife who left him, Sarah (Cornelia Agatha). Meanwhile, Little Dul (Rey Bong), Sarah's son, sets out to...
Review: Dolittle (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Dolittle (2020)

The rumor of production fiasco might clearly shape the final outcome of Dolittle—another failing rendition of Hugh Lofting's beloved vet who helps and talks to animals. In the beginning, we learned the dropping of "The Voyage" from the title; then, the rumored extensive reshoots, which might alter a huge portion of the plot and, eventually, explain the altered title. In the end, we somehow learn that the movie doesn't count on the plot anymore. The only important thing that can help the movie salvaging the voyage-wreck are the talking animals. Even Robert Downey Jr., who takes up a mantle of another typecast character, cannot lift Dolittle's plot up from sinking. His Dolittle is a cocky, occasionally reluctant genius just like his other blockbuster persona, i.e., Tony Stark or Sherlock...
Review: Underwater (2020)
Movie Review

Review: Underwater (2020)

It's hard to tell if Underwater is an under-water homage to Aliens' franchise or simply a rip-off of some under-water survival horror, like Leviathan or DeepStar Six. You will see bad-ass Kristen Stewart running for her life wearing only underwear like Ellen Ripley; but, her haircut is taken unashamedly from ALIEN³. The setting, however, suits George P. Cosmatos' Leviathan quite unashamedly as well. You are excused if thinking the whole event feels derivative because it is what it is. Stewart (straight from Charlie's Angels) portrays Norah, an engineer on a mining station located approximately seven miles under the ocean's surface, precisely around Mariana Trench. The location alone should have given you a chilling atmosphere (there is a convincing tracking shot at the beginning of the...
Review: The Grudge (2020)
Movie Review

Review: The Grudge (2020)

Rebooting a failing remake is maybe the most logical or, otherwise, the most cringe-worthy gig a Hollywood studio would do. While the argument to right the wrong is plausible, the tendency to repeat the same mistake is as imaginable. Sadly, Nicolas Pesce's remake of The Grudge (2004)—Takashi Shimizu's own remake of his own J-Horror classic, Ju-On—tends to take the messed-up path. While Shimizu's 2004 remake attempted to position itself as close as possible to the source material (the remake went even further to place it in the same geographical map), it's still a messy thread with more questions than actual terrors. One of the most bugging creative decisions is related to the mechanism of the curse, which becomes the franchise's epicenter. Shimizu engineers the curse to work as a super...
Review: Black Christmas (2019)
Movie Review

Review: Black Christmas (2019)

Black Christmas offers a progressive premise incorporating feminism and home-invasion slasher. It's a well-intended remake of Bob Clark's slasher classic of the same title. The idea is not highly revolutionary, but, from the corner of the eye, it is commendable in an idea-pitching award. Unfortunately, that's not the case. The remake falls where it should not be. The feminism-invasion slasher takes place in sorority houses where a survivor, Riley (Imogen Poots, Green Room) and other sorority women are terrorized by black-hooded killers with some medieval weapons. The killers are no other than some frat boys—endorsed by a supernatural force that doubles down their patriarchal pride which has made them somehow invincible. Only after the women began to speak up, the male supremacist force...
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: In the Tall Grass (2019)
Movie Review

Review: In the Tall Grass (2019)

Without any metaphysical spice a la Stephen King, the idea of getting lost in the open field of tall grass is already harrowing to even imagine. From such idea, King and his son, Joe Hill, craft a puzzling horror story channeling the real-life dread of being lost in an open space and combining it with the bizarreness of otherworldly entity which, as in other King's stories, predates humanity. Canadian director, Vincenzo Natali (Cube), adapts, writes, and directs In the Tall Grass into a 100-minute horror, which is quite frightening in the beginning, but dwindling down to only become frustrating at the end. Natali's In the Tall Grass jumps into the terror as quickly as the movie begins. A pregnant lady, Becky (Laysla de Oliveira) and her sibling, Cal (Avery Whitted), are en-route to giv...

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