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)”

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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)”

Review Kafir (2018)

Kafir is a well-crafted horror of local occultism culminating in visceral, over-the-top payback.

Review Kafir (2018): After the gruesome death of the father, a family is plagued by mysterious atrocities in amidst of overwhelming grieves and senses of isolation. Simple as it may sound, Kafir (subtitled ‘Bersekutu dengan Setan’, trans. ‘selling one’s soul to the devil’) is surprisingly delivering an above-average performance among Indonesian new-wave horrors.

In Kafir, the terror comes when the recently widowed Sri (Putri Ayudya, delivering one of the best horror performances in the recent years) begins to believe that an insidious force is preying on her family. Starting off with her husband (Teddy Syah), the malicious energy she allegedly guesses as a result of ‘santet’—a form of evil spell in local occultism—gets enraged in endangering her and her two children (Rangga Azof and Nadya Karina). From there, Kafir presents downright (while not consistently) terrors in whatever forms it can have (including in its tackiest form, to be honestly speaking). Continue reading “Review Kafir (2018)”

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

‘Welcome to the Jungle’ is a lighter and more carefree Jumanji, even compared to the predecessor and Zathura.

Review: There’s a lot of joy in the superfluous sequel/spin-off of Robin Williams’ 1995 boardgame comedy, Jumanji. The legendary boardgame is no longer; it’s morphed into a 1980s’ videogame console. The predecessor’s heart, the talk about responsibility, is also stripped off—substituted with non-stop merriment and teen-angst. The result is a feel-good blockbuster packed with tons of fun and joyride carrying the best of the holiday vibes.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle starts off by absurdly channeling The Breakfast Club before sucking out the four protagonists into the heart of the artificial jungle in a whole new action RPG. We have the nerd (Alex Wolff), the jock (Ser’Darius Blain), the recluse (Morgan Turner) and Molly Ringwald of Instagram era (Madison Iseman) playing the game. Inside the game, the teens also morphs into the avatar they’re choosing. The nerd turns into the all-muscle Dwayne Johnson with smoldering eyes; the jock shrinks into the cake-intolerant Kevin Hart, the sidekick; the recluse turns into the smoky hot Lara Croft-esque Karen Gillan; and the pretty girl turns into… Jack Black. And, they are all trapped inside the game which won’t let them go unless they finish it. Continue reading “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)”

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”

Breathe (2017) – Review

Andy Serkis’ directorial debut is a flawed but breathtaking love story saved by its powerful leads.

Review: Breathe, directorial debut from Andy Serkis—the man who should’ve gotten lifetime achievement for dedication to performance capture, is surprisingly a grounded, imperfect but breathtaking love story inspired by  Robin Cavendish, a responaut who survived from paralyzing polio, and his loving wife, Diana.

Andrew Garfield, as per his recent standard, is astonishing as Robin, an energetic British tea-broker who ventures in Africa. His social fluidness helps him winning over Diana Blacker’s (Claire Foy, The Crown) heart, despite her reputation as a professional heartbreaker. Love blooms quickly and, before long, Robin marries Diana before his tenure in Kenya began. Yet, life gives as quickly as it takes. During Diana’s pregnancy with Jonathan Cavendish (who apparently becomes the film’s executive producer), Robin falls sick as he inhales polio virus and was paralyzed from the neck down. With three months to live—according to doctor’s initial diagnosis—and weak will to live, only Diana’s love nurtures him back to life Continue reading “Breathe (2017) – Review”