Review: Gerbang Neraka a.k.a. Firegate (literally ‘Hell Gate’) combines an urban legend about Gunung Padang in West Java with sci-fi bravura and horror apparition into making a rare genre-bending Indonesian film. The film focuses on an excavation process of the allegedly oldest pyramid structure in the world (said to be older than Giza in Egypt and Mayan in Mexico), which lies underneath a mountain. Like in other ‘pyramid films’, the excavation was plagued from beginning to end, with body counts start to rise from day to day.
There came the film’s trinity: a young archeologist who believes in no supernatural power, Arni (Julie Estelle), a struggling heresy-laden tabloid reporter, Tomo (Reza Rahadian), and a celebrity ‘demon hunter’ Guntur Samudera (Dwi Sasono). Intertwined by their own ambition in regards to Gunung Padang pyramid, those three protagonists began to intersect each other’s life and unravel a hideous secret about the mega-structure. Continue reading Gerbang Neraka (2017): Genre-defying mess
Review: Taking up where the first film left, Kingsman: The Golden Circle revolves around the downtown-boy-turned-secret-agent, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), as he finally joins the rank of Kingsman. While the young agent calibrates into his new secret life—including living in his deceased mentor’s (Colin Firth) mansion and secretly dating a Swedish princess he once saved, the secret service is undergoing a massive attack from a colossal crime organization called The Golden Circle. To cope up with the attack, Eggsy must enlist the help of the Statesman a.k.a. Kingsman’s American counterpart.
Matthew Vaughn apparently got highly invested in making Kingsman that he finally made his first sequel. This time, Vaughn—along with his frequent collaborator, Jane Goldman—takes the liberty in expanding this globe-trotting espionage bravura. His passion can be seen from his eagerness to amplify what he achieved best in the first film into double-powered action panache. It’s bigger in scale and in duration (clocking in at 141 mins); but, is it more fun? Barely.
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Review: The LEGO Ninjago Movie unfolds how the exhilarating idea of presenting a pop-culture-laden animation based on brick toys could falter quickly. It’s only been three years since Chris Miller and Phil Lord first spawned The LEGO Movie in 2014; but, this third film in LEGO franchise shows that the formula starts getting worn off.
It still offers electric bantz, refreshing gags and zillion references to pop culture—making it an enjoyable joyride. However, Ninjago’s lack of innovative formula starts showing the symptoms when it is often caught playing and recycling ideas used in LEGO Movie and LEGO Batman Movie to use in a different terrain. You’re not wrong when you think you have a déjà vu while watching this.
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Review: New rendition of Stephen King’s 1986 novel, It, scrutinizes half of the 1000-something-page story into an effective two-hour thrilling ride with occasional scarefest. Despite the novel’s unfilmability (due to the richness of its content), this latest adaptation by Argentinian Andy Muschietti (Mama) could live up the expectation as a decent King’s adaptation and as a proper horror.
While It actually feels more like a coming-of-age adventure tale—with nods to classic ventures like The Goonies and other King’s adaptation, Stand by Me—the horror earns its gruesome portion; thanks to its legendary villain, Pennywise the Dancing Clown (oh, hi, coulrophobes!) who is said to always haunt the small town of Derry every 27 years. With intentionally shifted settings (adjusting 30 years from the novel’s 50s setting into 80s. Do the math and you’ll know why), sympathetic kid characters, rural summer vibes and a necessarily evil clown, you definitely won’t wish to float down there.
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Review: So, why bother remaking a story that feels Japan through and through in a same old brand new American setting? Or, why bother retelling a story that might venture well in nowadays internet-advanced world in a world which feels no different to early internet day? Why bother remaking Death Note in an all-American high school drama?
Those questions keep linger in my head while I watched Adam Wingard’s Death Note, an Americanized version of Japanese manga series written by Tsugumi Oba and Takeshi Obata. In presenting this story, Wingard (The Guest, You’re Next) keeps trying to impress audiences with his eye for stylish visual violence. Without ever losing his touch, there’s practically nothing wrong with the directorial effort; but, judging from the director’s adamant persistence in making the film and the end-results, there lies a much bigger question: is this all Adam Wingard’s vision to Death Note?
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Review: Stephen King’s famously ‘unadaptable’ genre-mixing novel series get adapted by A Royal Affair’s director, Nikolaj Arcel, into a series of non-understandable events. Missing out the horror elements, missing out the Western elements, and opting for PG-friendly action, The Dark Tower might as well be titled ‘How to Adapt The Dark Tower and Miss Everything.’
There’s nothing special with the story. It apparently borrows elements from King’s novels, starting from the titular tower, the characters, and the conflicts. There’s the Dark Tower, which is said to be center of a multiverse; it is also said that only the mind of a child can destroy it. A dark sorcerer called Man In Black (Matthew McConaughey) seeks to destroy the tower to bring reign of terror. In doing so, he’s abducting children from all universes and exploiting their mind to blast the tower down. On the path of light, there’s a Gunslinger, Roland of Gilead (Idris Elba), a loner from a devastated world, who seeks for revenge. Standing between them is a child from Earth, Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), who is haunted by nightmare of the tower.
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