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 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 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 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)”

Review Christopher Robin (2018)

Albeit stuttered, Christopher Robin serves its purpose to deliver message about quality time with family.

Review Christopher Robin: Disney’s new rendition of Christopher Robin reminds me of the twist that Mark Osborne has done to Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince in 2015. At some points, the story development also has similarities to Mr. Holmes. However, if there’s an invention to make to retell the century-long centuries of the titular character along with his animal friends, Winnie-the-Pooh and friends, Marc Foster’s Christopher Robin serves its purpose.

When it begins, the movie brought us back to Hundred Acre Woods where Christopher bid a farewell to his childhood friends before enrolling in a board-school. Then, as grown-ups say, live begins—loss, war, marriage, childbirth, career—and time flies;. The innocent, adventurous Christopher is no more; what’s left is a working-laden, grown-up Christopher (Ewan McGregor), who doesn’t even have time for a family getaway in a weekend homecoming trip. In the moment of crisis, his childhood memories cross path with his mundane, grown-up life in another Christopher Robin-esque adventure. Continue reading “Review Christopher Robin (2018)”