Review Dear Ex (2019)

Dear Ex tangles up troubled, dysfunctional characters into a nuanced joint of secrets and emotions, adorned with sympathy and sensitivity; even when the story often nearly plunges into full-fledged melodrama.

Mag Hsu & Chih-yen Hsu’s Dear Ex tangles up three troubled, dysfunctional characters into a nuanced joint centering on secrets, love and burst of emotions. Everything begins when a man died leaving his widow, Sanlian (Hsieh Ying-hsuan) and his teenage boy, Chengxi (Joseph Huang) with nothing but grief, confusion and, at certain level, grudge. In an elusive twist, the dying man writes his son out of the insurance policy in favor of Jay (Roy Chiu), another man for whom he’s leaving the family. All the inherited money can only go straight to the man’s secret lover if Sanlian signs off. Yet, it was always more than just money.

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Review Cold Pursuit (2019)

With surprisingly bleak comedy of errors and revenge-is-a-dish-better-served-cold tropes, Cold Pursuit (2019) paints the blizzard red in what could’ve been an episode of Fargo’s latest season.

Set in the cold, white ski city of Kehoe (fictionally located in Colorado), Cold Pursuit sees an angry, old Liam Neeson in another quest for revenge. It’s barely surprising if skeptical viewers might mistake it for another cousin of Taken (along with Non-Stop, Run All Night, and The Commuter) given the premise. Yet, give it a go and you’ll find out that Hans Petter Moland’s remake of his own Norwegian thriller is more like Fargo (Noah Hawley’s rendition over Coen Brothers’): stark, slick and ambiguous.

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Review Antologi Rasa (2019)

When narrated evenly and smoothly, Antologi Rasa could’ve made itself a ‘When Harry Met Sally’ disciple; and yet, the movie keeps hitting the road bump and takes questionable turns.

Adapted from the best-selling book—from author Ika Natassa—which shares literary universe with Critical Eleven, Antologi Rasa is another adult romance which also delves into the world of career-driven individuals. The story gravitates around the complicated friend-zones comprising of multiple love triangle with multiple unrequited love. In a perfect world, such kind of story might become a thoughtful view of modern day relationship in a way that When Harry Met Sally does back in the 80s. Sadly, this isn’t that perfect world.

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Review Happy Death Day 2U (2019)

Christopher Landon’s teen-slasher Groundhog Day a.k.a. Happy Death Day exploits the familiar time-loop trope into an inspiring comedy with Jessica Rothe delivering a literally wide-ranging performance. Some people found it cleverly revamping the trope; while, some others hated it for even trying. When the loop is closed by the end of the first movie, the biggest question has always been: what can make a working follow-up to it?

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Review The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019)

With crowded word-play, iconic comedic moments and stop-motion details as in the predecessor, The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part is a solid proof that Phil Lord and Christopher Miller are the new kings of FUN.

“Everything’s not awesome…,” half-way through the second act of The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part, some characters join forces in a choir to sing this bleak rendition of Oscar-nominated ‘Everything Is Awesome.’ At some points, the chant admits what might have gone wrong with the direct sequel of Christopher Miller & Phil Lord’s 2014 masterwork. However, the lyrics that follows—“…doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try… to make everything awesome…”—confidently shows how this sequel acknowledges its weakness and making a leap out of it, then moves on with its awesomeness that hasn’t rusted off.

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Review Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Robert Rodriguez’s latest visual bonanza, Alita: Battle Angel, is a sci-fi epic that immediately sparks immediate déjà vu to James Cameron’s Avatar. Such allegation isn’t without a root or apparent proof. The striking visuals—especially that attention-demanding anime eyes of the titular character and, later, the detailed mo-cap technology (that Cameron has revolutionized back in 2009 along with the CGI-laden world, the complex mythology in back-stories, the larger-than-life action sequences (including the inventive weapons and the fighting styles), and the nature of the protagonist (living someone else’s body) are in a way or another channeling its inner Avatar.

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