Review Yowis Ben 2 (2019)

Following up the sleeper hit with an exhilarating sociolinguistic discourse, Yowis Ben 2 can still be funny even when the acting department’s a bit lousy and the narrative messy.

In 2018, Yowis Ben prevailed against the odd condemning its segmented nature—using regional language (Javanese) with a more obscure dialect (Malangnese) and came in as a profitable sleeper-hit (almost hitting a million viewers during its theatrical run). While the use of particular dialects is not a new thing in Indonesian cinema, especially in arthouse community; the fact that it was a mogul-produced blockbuster creates a new powerful surge in the industry (note that a year earlier, the very industry was caught unprepared by another sleeper-hit, Uang Panai, a Makassar-bound production). Given the financial success and warm response from general viewers, it is not surprising that an immediate sequel is produced in no time, hence Yowis Ben 2, an unnecessary yet still tremendously hilarious sequel.

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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 Foxtrot Six (2019)

With the breathtaking high-concept political action-thriller, dystopian sets and enticing ensemble of casts, Foxtrot Six could’ve been a total mayhem, but it ends up being a convoluted oversimplification.

Upon initiating a heroic act to support a corrupted nation, a military lieutenant turned congressman (Oka Antara, The Raid 2) is double-crossed and left for dead by the nation he holds dear. When he learns that a government-enabled genocide plan is on the run, the congressman assembles a special-op to stop the mayhem and to settle the score. That’s simply the general outline of Foxtrot Six—a rambunctious political action-thriller that, along with 3: Alif Lam Mim (2015) and Buffalo Boys (2018), defines a new sub-genre of Indonesian action blockbuster.

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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 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)”

Review Sebelum Iblis Menjemput / May the Devil Take You (2018)

Sebelum Iblis Menjemput is the prodigal cousin of Evil Dead.

Timo Tjahjanto’s (half of The Mo Brothers) May the Devil Take You (originally titled ‘Sebelum Iblis Menjemput‘) is the prodigal cousin of Evil Dead who lives too far abroad that it gets tangled deeper in the hardcore nastiness of occultism. The nightmare it introduces might feel close and yet so far; but then, this bone-chilling and blood-gushing diabolical phantasmagoria is a guaranteed tough watch. It’s definitely not for the fainted heart; but, most definitely, it’s not for the pious heart.

Pedantic resemblances to its influence is inevitable, however, May the Devil Take You is bold enough to differ in all its nightmarish way. While it’s a cabin-in-the-wood story—only the cabin is changed into an abandoned resting villa (well, it’s a holiday cabin for Indonesians after all) with a ridiculously hard locked door to basement and a strange entity’s first-person POV as well, it’s not a groovy ordeal; it’s a pure horror that embraces every notion in Stephen King’s infamous quote, “nightmares exist out of logic.” Continue reading “Review Sebelum Iblis Menjemput / May the Devil Take You (2018)”