Review: After nearly two decades, Luc Besson finally materializes Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a space adventure adapted from his childhood favorite comic ‘Valérian and Laureline’—which he’s been craving to make ever since The Fifth Element (1997).
With visual endeavors the size of Cameron’s Avatar and vibrant universe to rival Star Wars (if not Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending) also with largest budget in French cinema history, it is exactly the size of Besson’s ambition on full creative control mode. The result is an elegant (borderline to over-the-top) space odyssey if not a style-over-substance one by any measure. What Valerian doesn’t have is a compelling script to cover the whole duration.
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Review: Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron bulk the summer blockbuster up—with feast of abs, boobs, and sea-water—in all-new Baywatch. As another effort to revamp classic telly shows into big-screen (after 21 Jump Street and CHIPs, long after The A-Team), this diary of lifeguards ups its stakes with an infamous R rating. The rating seems imaginable—for a more explicit sexual contents and insensitive banters—at some points; but, it ends up being far-fetched and irrelevant eventually.
Johnson takes up the mantle long left by David Hasselhoff as Mitch Buchannon. He’s a former military who now serves as leader of Emerald Bay’s Baywatch—under fine amalgam of Johnson’s typical character and Hasselhoff’s persona. Meanwhile, Efron is Matt Brody, a former U.S. swimmer and Olympic medalist, sentenced to serve for community service as a lifeguard in Mitch’s domain after committing public embarrassment. Those two names are beacons for Baywatch aside from the team’s ‘babewatch’—Stephanie Holden (Ilfenesh Hadera), Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario), and C.J. Parker (Kelly Rohrbach, taking up the mantle from Pamela Anderson) —as well as the comic relief, Ronnie (Jon Bass). Continue reading Baywatch (2017) – Review
Review: In establishing his own ‘Sony’ world, the all-new Spidey (Tom Holland) has to swing across Marvel Cinematic Universe, find a more established mentor in Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and make an experimental entrance in Sokovian Accords feud—which made it into Spider-Man: Homecoming as Peter Parker’s vlog. Head-started with the Civil War (2016) stunt, director Jon Watts (Cop Car, Clown) along with five other writers deconstruct the web-slinging hero’s origin story, infuse it with coming-of-age gusto and redefine the old formula to make this third cinematic incarnation of Spider-Man a frivolously clumsy one.
As you’ve seen in his Captain America’s hijack, Holland’s Spidey is no more than a high school chap—barely 15 and a member of school’s decathlon team. Homecoming highlights his return to school after that ‘Stark internship’ in Berlin, where his mundane geeking/being bullied/being unpopular life has waited. Tenure with Tony Stark has given him high hopes of big action and great vigilante stunts; but a month has passed and he’s only becoming ‘the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, as an extracurricular activity. Continue reading Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) – Review
Review: Adapted from Achi MT’s novel of the same title, Benni Setiawan’s Insya Allah Sah! materializes as a religious rom-com, which almost immediately reminds me to Deddy Mizwar’s Kiamat Sudah Dekat (2003). Blending chaotic marriage preparation drama with some religious niches (too difficult to be taken seriously), the final picture comes like hit-and-miss at worst and preachy at best.
In Insya Allah Sah!, a woman named Silvi (Titi Kamal) was trapped in an elevator with a whimsical, hideous-yet-pious band manager, Raka (Pandji Pragiwaksono) on the day she’s supposed to be proposed by her longtime boyfriend, Dion (Richard Kyle). Under the fear of dying of suffocation, both make a pledge to God for their lives. Silvi swears to be more religious and act more compassionate deeds; while Raka to assist people around him. Continue reading Insya Allah Sah! (2017): Insha Allah preachy
Review: In first two seasons of Fargo—a powerhouse of anthology based on The Coen Brothers’ 1996 film of the same title, Noah Hawley has proven his worth as a hell of most consistently stylist showrunner. Extracting the comedy-of-errors formula from the film and creating hollow modern folklore set in the film’s universe, Hawley also crafts unsympathetically likable characters and throwing them into an awkwardly cunning situation. The result: a pitch black comedy and mayhem at the same time.
As for the third season, Fargo returns with an unpretentious rhythm—smaller in scale, calmer in sense, lesser havoc compared to the first two seasons (the first renders the film quite closely, while the second feels more heavy-metal)—which ends up in a more traumatic result. It’s no longer a rough mix of petty-crime-gone-wrong and wrong-people-in-wrong-place situation, although the shades of it still become this season’s foundation. A stroke of enigmatic evil also presents, this time, in a more contagious fashion. Continue reading A Season with: Fargo (2017) – Season 3
Review: In adapting Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Bryan Fuller (Hannibal) and Michael Green (Logan), take Gaiman’s vision—for a divine story about immigrants and gods in a land of no god—into a whole new level of occultism. While retaining the novel’s tongue-in-cheek philosophical relevance, the show combines it with current real-world issue—about religion and humanity—and revises the author’s neglects towards minor storylines with a more engaging, intertwined ‘war of gods’ epic.
Same as the novel, American Gods centers on Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), a purposeless ex-convict whose wife (Emily Browning) is killed on a car accident a few moment before his release. Upon his despair, Shadow encounters a man-god who calls himself, Wednesday (Ian McShane) and gets recruited as a henchman in war between the Old Gods (Wednesday and comrades) and the New Gods of media, technology et al. Once hired, series of enigmatic events and bands of obscure characters appears, rendering Shadow (and audience’s, too) baffled and puzzled. Yet, as Wednesday said, there’s only one rule among others: Shadow is not paid for asking questions. Continue reading A Season with: American Gods (2017) – Season 1