Review Kafir (2018)

Kafir is a well-crafted horror of local occultism culminating in visceral, over-the-top payback.

Review Kafir (2018): After the gruesome death of the father, a family is plagued by mysterious atrocities in amidst of overwhelming grieves and senses of isolation. Simple as it may sound, Kafir (subtitled ‘Bersekutu dengan Setan’, trans. ‘selling one’s soul to the devil’) is surprisingly delivering an above-average performance among Indonesian new-wave horrors.

In Kafir, the terror comes when the recently widowed Sri (Putri Ayudya, delivering one of the best horror performances in the recent years) begins to believe that an insidious force is preying on her family. Starting off with her husband (Teddy Syah), the malicious energy she allegedly guesses as a result of ‘santet’—a form of evil spell in local occultism—gets enraged in endangering her and her two children (Rangga Azof and Nadya Karina). From there, Kafir presents downright (while not consistently) terrors in whatever forms it can have (including in its tackiest form, to be honestly speaking). Continue reading “Review Kafir (2018)”

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Review Brother of the Year (2018)

Presenting a sharp (but not unusual) blend of exaggerated sibling-rivalry dramedy and sweet romcom, Brother of the Year crafts a heartwarming comedy with unexpected (but effectively presented) turn.

Review Brother of the Year: In Vitthaya Thongyuyong’s GDH-produced blockbuster, what started out as a family dramedy about sibling rivalry quickly escalates into a full-fledged sentimental drama in an unexpected (but effectively presented) turn.

GDH darling, Sunny Suwanmethanont, stars as Chut—a less-motivated slacker, whose perfectly filthy bachelorhood life breaks after his multitalented sister, Jane (Urassaya Sperbund) returns home from her university time in Japan. As a blockbuster filled with sharp comedy materials upfront, it’s surprising that Brother of the Year takes a bold (but not strange) move to bit-by-bit leave its non-serious material (which powered most of its first half) and focus on a serious material, which might, at least, get lumps in your throat. Continue reading “Review Brother of the Year (2018)”

Review Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)

Movie Review Mission Impossible Fallout (2018). It’s a taut and highly energized action extravaganza whose energy is abundantly channeled even in the slower first half.

Movie Review Mission Impossible Fallout (2018): Previous five Mission: Impossible movies have all showcased different flairs of action spectacles under five different directors. All five movies have made quite a reputation to be that action franchise with consistently fresh and innovative death-defying stunts (ever so often done by the franchise’s face—Tom Cruise). Now, with Fallout, this franchise finally makes another reputation—to be one of the rarest franchises in which each installment is technically overdoing the predecessors.

Tom Cruise reprises his role both as Ethan Hunt and as the death-defying stunt performer (this time he did a highly-choreographed HALO jump and he even piloted a helicopter), that renowned IMF agent who has been accomplishing impossible missions since around 2 decades ago. As the title might suggest, Fallout is about dramatic chaos as a result of a dramatic event; but, look closely, you might also find a clue about the sheer hazard the protagonist might be facing should they fail this time—fallout of nuclear explosion. One thing for sure, Fallout is a globe-trotting action bravura which highlights Tom Cruise ‘dedicated’ stardom in all the decent way. Continue reading “Review Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)”

Movie Review Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

With catchy tunes, heartfelt fan-service treatment and juxtaposed narrative, the uplifting prequel not only completes (even, exceeds) the original Mamma Mia, but it also works delicately as a standalone story

Movie Review Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018): Several years have passed since the kitschy Mamma Mia! (2018), where Meryl Streep teams up with all-star casts of all generations (including Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard plus younger generation casts, such as Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper) creating a campy—and tacky—musical drama about family and dream. Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) brings audiences back to the Greek island, Kalokairi, where the first film commenced, for an (sadly) incomplete reunion.

Ol Parker (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and the sequel) pens and treats Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again as if it is the Godfather II with Streep as Brando and Seyfried as Pacino. To complete the Godfather manifestation, they even have Lily James as De Niro of Mamma Mia!. Even further, this second movie also serves as both prequel and sequel with stories that juxtapose into each other and into the original story. Wherefore, it makes a better movie in terms of presentation—‘correcting’ the flimsiness of the original. Continue reading “Movie Review Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)”

Review Buffalo Boys (2018)

Buffalo Boys rides a furious, highly-decorated buffalo in an ambitious blockbuster, but the road is too bumpy for even the most furious buffalo.

Movie review Buffalo Boys (2018): Mike Wiluan’s directorial debut, Buffalo Boys, breathes the same air as Kim Jee-won’s The Good, The Bad, The Weird in the sense that both brings out Wild West virtues in Far-East settings. If the latter transposes cowboy bonanza into ol’ time Manchurian landscape, the former introduces Western tropes to fictionalized Dutch-occupied Indonesia setting. It’s a full-fledged, faux-historical Western fantasy where English-speaking Dutch colonialism recreates diabolical Southern-slavery as if it’s American Civil War period.

The plot revolves around a straightforward homecoming-slash-revenge mission carried by the titular boys—Jamar (Ario Bayu) and Suwo (Yoshi Sudarso). When their parent and their homeland perished during Dutch’s assaults, the boys were brought into exile to the real Wild West by their uncle, Arana (Tio Pakusadewo). Once the boys are physically and mentally ready, Arana brings them back to the land of the dead, to settle the score once and for all. At least, that’s the plan.

With stunning production value—including unique mix-and-match of architecture, costumes and comic characters making peculiar blend of Indonesian Western. For what it looks, Buffalo Boys is undoubtedly an ambitious Indonesian blockbuster (among the first in its ranks). The premise, the character designs (that also counts a troupe of over-the-top outlaws) and the local twist of American cowboy—hence the title—suggest that the film is directly translated from video games or comic books. Please note that, while being similarly branded as ‘Western’, Buffalo Boys is in different hemisphere as Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts). When the latter is a more grounded arthouse rendition of Western spirit, the former literally imports the Western blockbuster style and mixes it with local wisdom. As reflected in the protagonists’ background,  it isn’t a simply-inspired-by-Western-movie product, it is the Western product through and through. Continue reading “Review Buffalo Boys (2018)”

Review Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Review Ant-Man and the Wasp. To clean the palette after the devastating Infinity Wars, Marvel presents an all-round fun and funny family comedy.

Movie review Ant-Man and the Wasp: Back in 2015, a small-scale, lesser-known superhero named ‘Ant-Man’ carrying heavy-scale burden to follow up the Marvel’s ambitious (yet convoluted) assemble, Avengers: Age of Ultron was almost unimaginable. Stormed with production issue—when the appointed director, Edgar Wright, left due to creative difference and get replaced by Yes Man director, Peyton Reed—Ant-Man was, again, almost an expected trainwreck. Only, it did not end up becoming one; it instead becomes one of Marvel’s most prominent standalone movies which blends superhero action, unapologetic comedy and warm family drama.

In 2018, Ant-Man makes a come-back in a similar role to the previous film—to clean the palette after the devastating Avengers: Infinity War. In doing so, Ant-Man and the Wasp, still helmed by Reed, stays a small movie that completes the grand image of a bigger one. Effective proportion is what it takes to do the role. It stays minuscule and distant from the recent event, but it paves a way to be an important addition (or even key-point) in the next grand event, which as we may expect is the untitled fourth Avengers movie. Continue reading “Review Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)”

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)”