Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

‘Welcome to the Jungle’ is a lighter and more carefree Jumanji, even compared to the predecessor and Zathura.

Review: There’s a lot of joy in the superfluous sequel/spin-off of Robin Williams’ 1995 boardgame comedy, Jumanji. The legendary boardgame is no longer; it’s morphed into a 1980s’ videogame console. The predecessor’s heart, the talk about responsibility, is also stripped off—substituted with non-stop merriment and teen-angst. The result is a feel-good blockbuster packed with tons of fun and joyride carrying the best of the holiday vibes.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle starts off by absurdly channeling The Breakfast Club before sucking out the four protagonists into the heart of the artificial jungle in a whole new action RPG. We have the nerd (Alex Wolff), the jock (Ser’Darius Blain), the recluse (Morgan Turner) and Molly Ringwald of Instagram era (Madison Iseman) playing the game. Inside the game, the teens also morphs into the avatar they’re choosing. The nerd turns into the all-muscle Dwayne Johnson with smoldering eyes; the jock shrinks into the cake-intolerant Kevin Hart, the sidekick; the recluse turns into the smoky hot Lara Croft-esque Karen Gillan; and the pretty girl turns into… Jack Black. And, they are all trapped inside the game which won’t let them go unless they finish it. Continue reading “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)”

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Wonder (2017) – Review

A wonderful story of how every person can be the wonder.

Review: Wonder, based on R.J. Palacio’s 2012 bestseller, observes the bright side of every event revolves around the first ‘normal’ school year of a boy with facial deformities. There’s bullying, but there’s support; there are sentimental moments, but there are uplifting ones. On the surface, this might look like an overdramatic Hollywood tearjerker, but, give it some time and Wonder will define the word ‘heartfelt’ straight to your nerve.

Jacob Tremblay (Room) portrays Auggie, the 10-year-old Star Wars aficionado, who finally enters public school after years of home-schooling due to his physical condition. Julia Roberts—the mother, Isabella, and Owen Wilson—the father, Nate, knowing their kid’s circumstance, show reluctance in finally letting the child stepping away from the comfort zone. What the parents fear of comes to fruition when Auggie’s facing bullying from his school-mate. The situation is troublesome; and, we’re led to observe it from other p.o.v.s around Auggie, from his outshone sibling, Via (Izabela Vidovic) to his first friend, Jack (Noah Jupe). It’s a dire situation to follow, but Wonder shows us that there’s always been silver linings to everything.

Continue reading “Wonder (2017) – Review”

Satu Hari Nanti (2017) – Review

The ABCD of Love is muddled with convoluted plot and loose threads.

Review: Salman Aristo’s directorial effort, Satu Hari Nanti, is a complicated story about four Indonesian folks tangled in a love rectangle on a foreign land. Dubbed on-screen as “the ABCD of Love” (a coined term which somehow foreshadows the whole conflict) with wide references ranging from Hamlet to Woody Allen, and from Anthony Bourdain to Franz Kafka, the film is well-intentioned; but, when it comes to presentation, only one thing comes up to mind: muddled.

Set under the elegant sky of Switzerland, Satu Hari Nanti is like a box of interaction between the film’s four main characters only. Alya (Adinia Wirasti), a chocolatier student, is in the midst of desperate romance with Bima (Deva Mahenra), a musician bumping from one café to another. While Chorina (Ayushita), a hotelier, is trying to survive in a bumpy relationship with a tour guide, Din (Ringgo Agus Rahman). Four friends, two couples in a foreign land; two broken relationships try to make amend; there’s where each of them begins to cross the line between friendship and romance. Alya begins to find solace in Din; and Bima begins to find one in Chorina; hence, the fore-mentioned “ABCD of Love.” Notice that each character’s name starts with letters that make the reference to understandable, plot-wise. Continue reading “Satu Hari Nanti (2017) – Review”

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) – Review

Kenneth Branagh crafts a Poirot-laden blockbuster for Orient Express redux to secure his future gigs.

Review: Kenneth Branagh knows that modern viewers don’t fancy over-exposition in crime-mystery story as in Agatha Christie’s original whodunit classic, Murder on the Orient Express. Therefore, the actor/director adjusts the premise and crafts a more energetic, carefree version of the story which focuses more on the main protagonist, Hercule Poirot, more than anything else in the story.

Details are altered; but, the basic things are intact. The titular Orient Express still leaves from Istanbul to London during a cold winter; and, Poirot boards in the train along with dozen strangers. As the title might suggest, there’s a murder on board. The detective must solve the case by interrogating other passengers of the train before the train stops on the nearby station. Staged within limited area with limited access, Branagh presents a non-stop series of investigation that goes back and forth at full-speed. At that speed, we might get the illusion that the train (and the case) is going somewhere enticing; while it hasn’t actually moved a bit. Continue reading “Murder on the Orient Express (2017) – Review”

Coco (2017) – Review

‘Til death do us part’ is not a thing in Pixar’s Mexican odyssey about life, death and family that bounds them altogether.

Review: Seven years in making with thorough research in Mexico along with solid team led by Lee Unkrich to celebrate appropriate representation (including writer, Adrian Molina, who got eventually promoted into co-director), Pixar’s nineteenth feature, Coco, results in a highly respectful tribute to Mexican culture and tradition, specifically, ‘Dia de los Muertos’ a.k.a. The Day of the Dead.

In preparation of the carnivalesque, marigold-laden Mexican festivity of the dead, 12-year-old Miguel Rivera (voiced by Anthony Gonzales) is entangled in a fateful adventure between life, death and family that bounds them altogether. The boy only wants to follow his passion—to simply play guitar and sing like his hero, a famous Mexican singer and actor, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt)—much to his shoemaker family’s dismay due to a past predicament. When a talent show is held at the town’s plaza, Miguel ignores his family’s cries of refusal and joins up anyway. For that, he steals the monumental guitar from de la Cruz chapel, which makes him cursed and strands up in the Land of the Dead. Continue reading “Coco (2017) – Review”

Breathe (2017) – Review

Andy Serkis’ directorial debut is a flawed but breathtaking love story saved by its powerful leads.

Review: Breathe, directorial debut from Andy Serkis—the man who should’ve gotten lifetime achievement for dedication to performance capture, is surprisingly a grounded, imperfect but breathtaking love story inspired by  Robin Cavendish, a responaut who survived from paralyzing polio, and his loving wife, Diana.

Andrew Garfield, as per his recent standard, is astonishing as Robin, an energetic British tea-broker who ventures in Africa. His social fluidness helps him winning over Diana Blacker’s (Claire Foy, The Crown) heart, despite her reputation as a professional heartbreaker. Love blooms quickly and, before long, Robin marries Diana before his tenure in Kenya began. Yet, life gives as quickly as it takes. During Diana’s pregnancy with Jonathan Cavendish (who apparently becomes the film’s executive producer), Robin falls sick as he inhales polio virus and was paralyzed from the neck down. With three months to live—according to doctor’s initial diagnosis—and weak will to live, only Diana’s love nurtures him back to life Continue reading “Breathe (2017) – Review”