Review: Rizal Mantovani & Jose Purnomo’s sleeper hit Jelangkung (2001) was an integral part of Indonesian film resurrection. This harrowing story—about ancient ritual of summoning spirit using wooden avatar called ‘jelangkung’—was highly phenomenal that it spawned two sequels and cleared the path for other Indonesian ghouls to silver screen.
Sixteen years later, the winning team, Mantovani & Purnomo, is reunited with their winning formula into making a reboot titled Jailangkung. While their 2001 hit is a lo-fi production, this one is completely the opposite. With new target audiences, Jailangkung repackages itself with younger and fresher look; but, was it worth the scare? Continue reading Jailangkung (2017): Embodiment of style-over-substance horror
Review: Johannes Roberts (The Other Side of the Door) uses his penchant to horror to create sharky open-water terror with a premise similar to Jaume Collett-Serra’s last summer cheap thrills The Shallows—involving deeper shallow-beach, more beautiful girls, and more sharks. Set in an exotic Mexican shore, 47 Meters Down sends Mandy Moore and Claire Holt straight to the hungry sharks in, as the title might suggest, 47 meters below the sea surface.
In 47 Meters Down, Kate (Holt), who has just found out that her sister, Lisa (Moore), ditched by her long-time boyfriend before their Mexican getaway, is at full earnestness to orchestrate an unforgettable vacation for her broken sister. Invited by two locals to cage-diving in shark-infested water, the more YOLO-induced Kate successfully persuades the more reluctant Lisa. What seems to be a larger-than-life excitement suddenly becomes a life-threatening moment for the girls when the crane falls, sending them into the bed of the ocean, with only limited oxygen to survive. Continue reading 47 Meters Down (2017) – Review
First, Alex Kurtzman’s The Mummy has nothing to do with Stephen Sommers’ 1999 Brendan Fraser-fueled blockbuster of the same title; let alone Karl Freund’s 1932 Boris Karloff-incited classic. Second, it has nothing to do with Mission Impossible, despite Tom Cruise, Christopher McQuarrie, and David Koepp’s involvement. Third, it, however, is a completely different film to mark a confident opening for Universal’s audacious Dark Universe, which sets to assemble the studio’s classic monster films into a whole new rebooted universe.
The Mummy does not take place in Egypt at all. It only begins in the ancient Egypt where Princess Ahmanet (Sofia Boutella) was mummified alive, before shifts away to both Iraq and England. In England, mysterious catacombs of deceased Templar knights from the Crusade was found underground, inviting Dr. Henry Jekyll’s (Russell Crowe) grave attention. Meanwhile, soldiers Nick Morton (Tom Cruise) and his comrade, Chris Vail (Jake Johnson), along with an archaeologist, Jenny Halsey (Annabelle Wallis) found a mystically guarded ancient tomb of Ahmanet. Continue reading The Mummy (2017) – Review
Review: For the fifth installment (a.k.a. another comeback), Pirates of the Caribbean franchise decided to use a more narrative-friendly Salazar’s Revenge title over the more occult (and, still, US title) Dead Men Tell No Tales purposively. After all, giving away an obscure name in the title might help convincing audiences that this is a new series, not just a hasty recycle of the original trilogy… or a too-early Force Awakens in the ocean.
In case you forget, ‘original’ Pirates series progressed upon an electric narrative involving an unholy trinity – Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley). In surviving a trilogy, the last two names were retired from the narrative in the disjointed fourth installment, which marked Sparrow’s solo-career. And, yet, Salazar’s Revenge, learning from the last lambasted tenure, decides to create a small reunion, assemble a rejuvenated trinity, add some family issue there, and starts a new been-there-done-that voyage. Now you know why I called it a nautical Force Awakens rip-off, don’t you? Continue reading Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017) – Review
Review: Technically, Satria Heroes: Revenge of Darkness has all the potentials to introduce audiences who aren’t familiar with Indonesian tokusatsu, Bima Satria Garuda and the sequel, Bima-X, to the saga; but, it tends to have fun with itself. In fact, it opts to be a (literally) simple, blatant, campy Kamen Rider-inspired bonanza, which might get you cringed and entertained at once.
Satria Heroes narrative is pretty simple – following up three-act structure with an additional backstory stuffed right before the mid act. It splits the focus to two key figures – Ray and an iron-masked antagonist – and presents it in three interrelated episodes. Ray and Iron Mask respectively get the focus in the first two episodes before finally they clash in the third episode ‘Revenge of Darkness.’ Continue reading Satria Heroes: Revenge of Darkness (2017): ‘Kay, Man. Right thurr.
Review: In The Circle, James Ponsoldt – a promising director with sympathetic character-driven dramas (Smashed, The Spectacular Now, and The End of the Tour) – attempts to create a Dr. Strangelove of the 21st century while substituting ‘The Bomb’ with ‘The Internet.’ Based on Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel, this is projected as a poignant satire to criticize how internet has taken over real life and, especially, threatened privacy. And yet, Ponsoldt ends up making a star-studded mess with mostly underused idea and, more, superfluous subject.
What happened was, by the time Eggers published the novel, the subject matter became highly relevant with global circumstances IN REAL TIME. Yet, one click later, three years have passed and, ironically, Eggers’ fears had some surfaced, emerged, and made real life stranger than fiction; and that’s how The Circle becomes irrelevant and, as I mentioned previously, superfluous. Continue reading The Circle (2017) – Review