Coco (2017) – Review

‘Til death do us part’ is not a thing in Pixar’s Mexican odyssey about life, death and family that bounds them altogether.

Review: Seven years in making with thorough research in Mexico along with solid team led by Lee Unkrich to celebrate appropriate representation (including writer, Adrian Molina, who got eventually promoted into co-director), Pixar’s nineteenth feature, Coco, results in a highly respectful tribute to Mexican culture and tradition, specifically, ‘Dia de los Muertos’ a.k.a. The Day of the Dead.

In preparation of the carnivalesque, marigold-laden Mexican festivity of the dead, 12-year-old Miguel Rivera (voiced by Anthony Gonzales) is entangled in a fateful adventure between life, death and family that bounds them altogether. The boy only wants to follow his passion—to simply play guitar and sing like his hero, a famous Mexican singer and actor, Ernesto de la Cruz (Benjamin Bratt)—much to his shoemaker family’s dismay due to a past predicament. When a talent show is held at the town’s plaza, Miguel ignores his family’s cries of refusal and joins up anyway. For that, he steals the monumental guitar from de la Cruz chapel, which makes him cursed and strands up in the Land of the Dead. Continue reading “Coco (2017) – Review”

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Paddington 2 (2017) – Review

Paddington’s fully-integrated story to human family is a bear-y merry sequel.

Review: Paddington—the marmalade-loving Peruvian bear who has now become a permanent resident in Windsor Gardens, London along with The Browns—returns for another adventure in this bear-y merry sequel.

While having been entirely integrated into human’s life and become a local hero, Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) is still the bear he used to be—the little bear saved and adopted by the late Uncle Pastuzo (voiced by Michael Gambon) and Aunt Lucy (Imelda Staunton). For Aunt Lucy’s 100th birthday, Paddington is keen to give her a unique pop-up book about London, the city of her dream. The lil’ bear will do anything to finally buy the book from Mr. Gruber’s (Jim Broadbent) antique shop; even when what he’s done gets him entangled into a malicious conspiracy orchestrated by a villainous former actor, Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant). Continue reading “Paddington 2 (2017) – Review”

Justice League (2017) – Review

DC has found its fun serum that does no justice

Review: Let’s break down Justice League into good news and bad news first. The good news is Justice League shows that DC has actually learned how to concoct a story out of their metahumans (yes, for them, the word ‘superhero’ is overrated) extensively since Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and how to sweeten up their preferably dark universe with proper humors, too, ever since Suicide Squad. While the bad news: the good news only slightly helps the film from being a total mess.

Following rave reviews showering Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman and news of reshoots along with post-production galore to Avengers’ helmer, Joss Whedon, expectation flown high on how Justice League would finally do the justice to DC. At some points, it might live up the expectation; thanks to balance between Zack Snyder’s grim visions and Whedon’s holly jolly. Snyder, who left during post-production, still gets the sole director billing for his extensive work; but, we know that it’s Whedon who invents and injects the fun-serum. The cahoots result in a fun, energetic, light and more accessible crowdpleaser using DC’s properties. Regardless, Justice League apparently not a back-to-back victory. Continue reading “Justice League (2017) – Review”

Beyond Skyline (2017) – Review

Review: Despite being critically lambasted, The Brothers Strause’ 2010 alien invasion flick, Skyline, is a legit B-movie success—grossing USD 79 million from USD 20 million budgets—locking the possibility of a sequel, hence Beyond Skyline. Helmed by the first film’s writer and producer, Liam O’Donnell, this sequel (or spin-off) seems to have learned a lot from the predecessor’s a-tad-too-serious execution of the campy material.

Beyond Skyline doesn’t bother to take things seriously. The result is an anachronistic B-movie feast which offers tons of fun if not weighed down by its gawkish, untidy execution and convoluted plot. The best thing about it: it can actually bring something even Star Wars failed to do—combining The Raid-esque action with alien invasion tropes. Continue reading “Beyond Skyline (2017) – Review”

Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – Review

Review: Giving Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) a Marvel gig is indeed the studio’s biggest game-changer, even bigger than Guardians of the Galaxy. After 17 films in some candy-colored superhero action mode with high-dose of witty comedy, the NZ director finally drops the bass and turns the table—making Thor: Ragnarok a.k.a. God of Thunder’s third tenure an exact opposite of Marvel’s procedural film: a full-time comedy with high-dose of action.

From the first scene where Thor (Chris Hemsworth) ‘infiltrates’ the lair of evil Surtur, a demonic presence prophesied as the bringer of Ragnarok a.k.a. Asgard’s apocalypse, it’s apparent that Ragnarok—despite bearing ‘apocalypse’ in the title—is never a grim story. It’s a story of siblinghood and friend-from-work-hood delivered as high octane hilarity which loves to have fun with typical CGI-laden blockbuster spectacles and Marvel-induced Norse mythology. However, even with the laughing-gas injection prescribed by Waititi, Ragnarok still ends up being that Marvel film. Continue reading “Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – Review”

Gerbang Neraka (2017): Genre-defying mess

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”