Review Hotel Mumbai (2019)

Intense and unnerving for the whole duration, this based-on-true-event survival thriller is an anti-terrorism message that often becomes too over-sensationalist.

On 26 November 2008, Mumbai were under siege by foreign terrorists. Brutally coordinated terrorist strikes targeted several key locations in India’s financial capital, including the magnificent Taj Mahal Hotel Palace, in which most portions of the movie take places. In portraying the horror, Hotel Mumbai, Anthony Maras’ directorial debut, presents an anti-terrorism docu-drama which often goes too far in its stance.

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Review It Comes / 来る (2019)

Tetsuya Nakashima’s horror devices a long list of plot twist mechanisms simultaneously and enticingly in one grand, yet campy and long-winded horror that demands full attention.

Tetsuya Nakashima (Confession, The World of Kanako) has always been known as a visual extravagant with flair for narrative overdrive. With portfolio of bleak murder mysteries that always haunt long after the movies end, Mr. Nakashima now steps further into horror territory with It Comes (also known as Kuru), an adaptation of Ichi Sawamura novel, Bogiwan ga Kuru. Similar to his most notable works, even in his horror debut, his movie is outright dark, mysterious, visceral and demanding. At one point, this horror reminds me to the cult-making Korean horror, The Wailing; what makes it different is: it’s campier and bigger in scale.

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Review Pet Sematary (2019)

The new Pet Sematary turns the dead into a whole new creepy entity compared to the 1989 adaptation.

There’s one famous Stephen King’s quote that works to dive in to most of his works. “Nightmares exist outside of logic,” he said before clinching his statement with an exclamation that adding explanation is no fun. That quote also works to delve into the new Pet Sematary, an adaptation of a novel which King himself always claimed to be one of the toughest even for him. Duo directors, Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, seem to hold the creed too well: gone beyond the logic and giving little to no explanation for it.

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Review Mantan Manten (2019)

It’s flawed, but Mantan Manten manages to deliver an emotionally gripping look on letting go of love lost from an unusual take on Javanese matrimony tradition.‬

Farishad Latjuba’s Mantan Manten could easily slip into a maudlin melodrama or simply a mess given its convoluted, ambitious yet heartbreaking premise. The title (literally meaning: former bride) does not suggest otherwise and we know pretty well how romance movies easily sugar-coats tragedy to push an overemotional haul. And yet, Mantan Manten caught me off guard when it acknowledges the flaws and manages to deliver an emotionally gripping look on letting go of love lost from an unusual view of Javanese matrimony tradition.‬

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Review Shazam! (2019)

DC revamps their superhero rosters with Zachary Levi as Shazam! — a fun-loving, absurd icon with a highly uplifting twist of the tropes.

We all know that DC execs’ realization that their superhero movie does not need to exactly follow Marvel’s trajectory came very late and with a dire cost. Yet, slowly, the hope rises. Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman has gone through a territory Marvel never ventured (at least until Captain Marvel); then, James Wan’s Aquaman, despite all the flaws, were an exhilarating, likable blockbuster. The breakthrough continues with Shazam!, a magic-powered superhero movie, which comes to fulfill childhood’s fantasy of those growing up with the lots of Power Rangers or BeetleBorgs.

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Review Dumbo (2019)

While Dumbo is visually likable, it wasn’t charming, let alone magical.

Call it Disney’s New Wave. As the Mouse House has been pretty busy in the recent decade with their project of revamping their classics into cash live-action adaptations, they have created an unwieldy atmosphere of family blockbuster. In terms of reception, their rosters of live-action adaptations had been hit-or-miss, even when most of them were box office hits. In this kind of atmosphere, visionary director, Tim Burton—who had previously worked in a loose adaptation of Alice in the Wonderland—returns for another gig: Dumbo, a live-action adaptation of the 1941 animated classic about a baby elephant that can fly. While his latest work is delicate, it belongs to the lukewarm side of Disney’s live actions.

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Review The Hole in the Ground (2019)

The Hole in the Ground almost works in a similar manner as The Babadook—about parental challenge; only this one delves to deep into the lore.

I was trembling when I first realized Lee Cronin’s directorial effort, The Hole in the Ground, reminded me to The Babadook. It’s definitely two different specimens, but they both share a similar topic and approach: the haunting of dysfunctional parental challenge depicted as a low-key rural horror. On whatever sense, it’s as creepy.

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