Review John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum

Relentlessly leaping from various orgasmic, nerve-racking action set pieces to ever-expanding world building that probes for self-deducing, Parabellum is a wickedly lethal chapter.

You must never forget how this wicked gun-fu revivalist saga started. The titular character, John Wick (Keanu Reeves), is a retired assassin who wreaked havoc and slaughtered a horde of mobsters in retribution for the death of his beloved dog. Absurd as the premise might sound, the first movie instead spawns a new icon—celebrated for the gun-fu bravura, the devotion to over-kill and the underworld myth-building. The second chapter cements Wick’s reputation deeper and further digs the myth that becomes more obscure as the titular character reluctantly honoring a blood oath he made a few years back, only to be double-crossed. At the end of it, Wick is declared ‘excommunicado‘ and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum begins the minute Wick run for his life.

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Review Brightburn (2019)

While overstaying the welcome a bit too long, Brightburn still delivers its visionary premise of a superhero origin story turning into a visceral horror.

A visionary horror director turned into one of the most sought after superhero director, James Gunn (with gigs ranging from self-defining Slither and Super to Marvel’s space-misfits, Guardians of the Galaxy and further forward to DC’s second attempt to prolong the live of Suicide Squad), produced a visionary genre-bending superhero origin movie deep rooted into horror core in Brightburn. Directed by a little known horror director, David Yarovesky based on the screenplay written by James’ brother and cousin, Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn, this horror superhero story throws a very enticing premise: what if some kind of Superman figure was actually sent to Earth as an evil offspring as in The Omen?

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Review Pokémon Detective Pikachu (2019)

Detective Pikachu’s bold attempt to craft an independent story out of an overly established franchise only results in a parade of cute pokémons with small flickering jolts and less exultation.

Warner Bros’ attempt to revamp the Pokémon franchise with an independently standalone live-action is simply a go-big-or-go-home move. While the story is based on a game of the same title, Detective Pikachu basically ditches most minor elements that usually made it into Pokémon movies—including the famous Poké Ball—into some distant properties. For fans of the franchise who subsequently follows the game, this might look like an attempt not to be a verbatim adaptation; but, for casual fans, the whole idea of relegating the ‘pocket monsters’ into non-pocket-sized sidekicks might be a new invention. So, is it a blessing or otherwise?

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Review Hellboy (2019)

Neil Marshall’s Hellboy is truer to the nature and style of the source materials compared to the versions it reboots; however, that doesn’t make it a better movie.

There is a common defense for the new Hellboy: it is truer to the nature and style of the source material, Mike Mignola’s Dark Horse comics. That argument seems to undermine how imaginative and romantic Guillermo del Toro’s idyllic 2004 fantasy-adventure, which also spawns a sequel in 2008. Fact is, the reboot by Neil Marshall is a darker R-rated rendition with more profanities, more binge-drinking and more blood-gushing moments.

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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 Triple Threat (2019)

Instead of ending up being a crowd-pleaser, Triple Threat only comes as a crowd-teaser.

Triple Threat deliberately engineers a fictional Southeast Asian country called Maha Jaya—which basically is Thailand but with extremely large China influence comprising of tycoons and cartels, backed by Indonesian mercenaries—only to allow the three leads: Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais and Tiger Chen speaking roles in their native language. Strange as it may sound, but at some points, the made-up setting becomes a reasonable venue to showcase a showdown between glorified Muay Thai, Pencak Silat and Kung Fu against current B-movie actioner stars consisting of Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White and Michael Bisping.

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Review Triple Frontier (2019)

Chandor pulls some grim, emotional twist in what looked a gonzo celebration of machismo the size of Expendables but not.

In paper, Triple Frontier feels like a deviation from the director, J.C. Chandor’s filmography so far. Often presenting gritty, thought-provoking thrillers about the descend of men without hand-on action sequences, Chandor takes a radical premise when he collaborates with writer of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Mark Boal. There are stand-offs here, but Chandor’s gripping signature lies around in this star-studded machismo celebration.

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