Review Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212 (2018)

Wiro Sableng smartly plays out on one of the source material’s finest advantage—exotic world building and exquisite characters—to craft a real blockbuster treat, despite all the flaws.

Review Wiro Sableng 212 Warrior: Wiro Sableng (trans. Crazy Wiro), a character created by Bastian Tito, is one of the most renowned & legendary martial art warriors in Indonesian comic scene—along with Panji Tengkorak (Skull Panji) and Si Buta dari Goa Hantu (Blind Warrior from Ghost Cave). From comic book, Wiro Sableng had been adapted into a several movies and, most notably, long-running television series that had gained cult-following and launched a one-hit wonder status to the star, Ken Ken. In 2018, a latest incarnation of the famous character is brought into existence by Angga D. Sasongko (Filosofi Kopi series, Bukaan 8), backed by Lifelike Pictures and Hollywood mogul, Twentieth Century Fox.

Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212 feels special in the development. Penned by Tumpal Tampubolon and Sheila Timothy with senior Indonesian author (and martial-art writer), Seno Gumira Ajidarma, the plot is straight-forward poetic justice action mixed with political turmoil in the background. Partially inspired by classic wuxia stories, the narrative also elaborates a Shakespearian dash and clash that look like Coriolanus and the lots. More enticingly, the fact that Vino G. Bastian, an interesting Indonesian actor who plays the titular role, is Bastian Tito’s son makes a real point as if all stars are aligned for this adaptation. Continue reading “Review Wiro Sableng: Pendekar Kapak Maut Naga Geni 212 (2018)”

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Review Mile 22 (2018)

Injected with exuberant energy (especially with Iko Uwais’ relentlessly slick action sequences), Mile 22 wasted it off with inconvenient hip-hop montage, bad writings, bad narrative-structures and ridiculous dialogues.

Review Mile 22: It’s disheartening that, unlike Peter Berg’s previous three works (Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and Patriots Day) which shows his craftsmanship in authentically reenacting tragedy with blatant details but smooth side for sympathy, Mile 22 is more like a mess here and there. The blatant details are mostly missed; the sympathy are stripped off completely; sadly, the heart of the narrative that excels in his previous movies is non-existent.

Bringing back his favorite collaborator, Mark Wahlberg, to team up with hottest action stars, such as Ronda Rousey and Iko Uwais (The Raid, The Raid 2, Beyond Skyline), Mile 22 seems to promise relentless spectacles. At least, the premise might look enticing as we are lured to the movie’s opening raid sequence which shows us a lot of explosions, blood and bullets. From there, it’s apparent that Berg tries to showcase style-over-substance action machismo with exuberant energy. However, as the story progress, it’s clearly seen that the energy isn’t channeled properly. Continue reading “Review Mile 22 (2018)”

Review The Meg (2018)

As if bringing Statham diving back to the depth isn’t enough, The Meg plunges him into a mediocre B-movie party.

Movie review The Meg (2018): The Meg should be okay if it sticks for two purposes only. To highlight Jason Statham—recently has made quite a name as an action hero—in his diving tenure reunion is the first. To see that same Statham fights a colossal, prehistoric shark in the open ocean, both sides’ home ground, should be the second. The rest should be history. Alas it’s not a history we expect it to be. A series of historical meme is what it eventually deserves.

Fashioned as a pseudo sci-fi blockbuster (if there’s another sky above the sky, there should be another ocean under the ocean), The Meg unravels the beast right from the start to f*ck Jonas’ (Statham) rescue mission. There’s a few years gap between the opening and the ‘real story’; however, the focus gets back to Statham almost immediately when a deep sea research team is trapped in the bed of the ocean-under-ocean. The rescue mission apparently unleashes the Megalodon to the open water. For that, Statham’s Jonas must fight it before everybody on a tourist-laden beach becomes easy prey. Continue reading “Review The Meg (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)”

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)”