Review Fall in Love at First Kiss (2019)

Fall in Love at First Kiss could’ve delivered a more heartwarming romance which pays beautiful tribute to the source material, whichever it refers to.

Frankie Chen’s Fall in Love at First Kiss (一吻定情) adds another entry to the list of Kaoru Tada’s manga, Itazura Na Kiss screen adaptations (which has spawned various television series in Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan). Chen’s version takes a closer approach to the first Taiwanese incarnation, It Started with a Kiss (惡作劇之吻), especially by using the established character names and settings. While the plot might sound eerie and unhealthy in deeper observation, the movie’s sugarcoating—with bubble-gum visuals and comical characters—can, at times, divert the attention to a distant lesson.

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Review Dilan 1991 (2019)

Bypassing all the character introductory phases, the romance rift in Dilan 1991 is sadly underwhelming even when the chemistry between Iqbaal and Vanesha starts to make sense.

In a decade or two, Dilan, as a character, might still be remembered as an illustrious Indonesian teenage boy icon—rising into some cult status along with Lupus and Si Boy. By that time, it might not be surprising if new incarnations of Dilan will rise into prominence; while, Iqbaal Ramadhan’s exhilarating performance (which beats all the odds) will become a solid benchmark. In like manner, Dilan-Milea romance might also transcend the time, like Galih & Ratna or others (I was about to write: Rangga & Cinta from Ada Apa dengan Cinta?, but then I imagined the backlash). However, that’s not the case for the movies—both Dilan 1990 and Dilan 1991.

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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 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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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)”

Wonder (2017) – Review

A wonderful story of how every person can be the wonder.

Review: Wonder, based on R.J. Palacio’s 2012 bestseller, observes the bright side of every event revolves around the first ‘normal’ school year of a boy with facial deformities. There’s bullying, but there’s support; there are sentimental moments, but there are uplifting ones. On the surface, this might look like an overdramatic Hollywood tearjerker, but, give it some time and Wonder will define the word ‘heartfelt’ straight to your nerve.

Jacob Tremblay (Room) portrays Auggie, the 10-year-old Star Wars aficionado, who finally enters public school after years of home-schooling due to his physical condition. Julia Roberts—the mother, Isabella, and Owen Wilson—the father, Nate, knowing their kid’s circumstance, show reluctance in finally letting the child stepping away from the comfort zone. What the parents fear of comes to fruition when Auggie’s facing bullying from his school-mate. The situation is troublesome; and, we’re led to observe it from other p.o.v.s around Auggie, from his outshone sibling, Via (Izabela Vidovic) to his first friend, Jack (Noah Jupe). It’s a dire situation to follow, but Wonder shows us that there’s always been silver linings to everything.

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Murder on the Orient Express (2017) – Review

Kenneth Branagh crafts a Poirot-laden blockbuster for Orient Express redux to secure his future gigs.

Review: Kenneth Branagh knows that modern viewers don’t fancy over-exposition in crime-mystery story as in Agatha Christie’s original whodunit classic, Murder on the Orient Express. Therefore, the actor/director adjusts the premise and crafts a more energetic, carefree version of the story which focuses more on the main protagonist, Hercule Poirot, more than anything else in the story.

Details are altered; but, the basic things are intact. The titular Orient Express still leaves from Istanbul to London during a cold winter; and, Poirot boards in the train along with dozen strangers. As the title might suggest, there’s a murder on board. The detective must solve the case by interrogating other passengers of the train before the train stops on the nearby station. Staged within limited area with limited access, Branagh presents a non-stop series of investigation that goes back and forth at full-speed. At that speed, we might get the illusion that the train (and the case) is going somewhere enticing; while it hasn’t actually moved a bit. Continue reading “Murder on the Orient Express (2017) – Review”