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”

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Flatliners (2017) – Review

Review: It’s sad to finally learn that Niels Arden Oplev’s (The original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) Flatliners is neither a sequel nor a blood-related spin-off of Joel Schumacher’s Flatliners (1990) as previously rumored. It turns out to be mundane and redundant remake, which brings back Kiefer Sutherland (not for reprising the same role he played back then but) for a merely prominent cameo.

Flatliners basically is an ‘on-point’ remake which offers nothing new. It goes by the same preposterous premise around near-death experience and exploration to after-life. Revolving around similar groups of med school students with their ‘pseudo-science’ experiment of less-than-5-minutes dying, the remake might look enticing for those who haven’t seen the 1990 flat blockbuster, at least until the film goes all over the place. Continue reading “Flatliners (2017) – Review”

Sweet 20 (2017): Ode to the youth not wasted on the young

Review: In the toughest time of her life, a fussy 70-year-old hag gets a second chance to compensate her lost youth and cheat aging when she is mysteriously transformed into her 20-year-old self. That’s the premise of Hwang Dong-hyuk’s mega-hit Miss Granny (2014), which has inspired series of overseas remakes, including the Indonesian version, Sweet 20, helmed by Ody C. Harahap (Me vs. Mami, Kapan Kawin?).

Transliterated from its South Korean roots by Upi (My Stupid Boss, Belenggu), Sweet 20 adeptly administers a profound adaptation into Indonesian culture and social value. Upi’s adapted script isn’t only changing the film’s geographical setting; it instead induces local view of family in Indonesia’s urban society. Even, the film’s Eid al-Fitr release adds up to the foundation of the story—underlying its ode to the motherhood, lost dream, and family’s worth. Continue reading “Sweet 20 (2017): Ode to the youth not wasted on the young”

Beauty and the Beast (2017) – Review

Review: I once wrote an abridged history of Beauty and the Beast roots on my review of Christophe Gans’ La Belle et La Bête. How this beautiful French lore has evolved, added more insight and backstories, and represented social issues from time to time alone has already made an intriguing tale. While adaptations and re-imaginings have altered it from the root, there’s one thing that never fades: the magic.

I can’t still see ‘the whys’ of Disney’s decision to remake their Renaissance animation with a live-action feature; yet, I can put aside that concerns. They’ve done it well with Cinderella (2014) by having courage and being kind and staying true to its root; and The Jungle Book (2016) by fulfilling the bare necessities. And for Beauty and the Beast, I can say that this live-action re-telling is not a must, but it’s necessary. Continue reading “Beauty and the Beast (2017) – Review”

Ben-Hur (2016): Mengkerdilkan kisah besar Ben-Hur

Review Ben-Hur: Sebelum remake Ben-Hur versi Timur Bekmambetov, sudah ada banyak adaptasi dan saduran novel Ben-Hur; yang paling terkenal tentu saja buatan William Wyler pada tahun 1959 yang tercatat dengan durasinya yang hampir 4 jam. Produksi versi 1959 ini sangat megah, bahkan klimaks-nya, yaitu adegan chariot, menghabiskan waktu 5 minggu dan ratusan extra untuk memfilmkannya. Hasilnya: 11 Oscar berhasil disabet dan Ben-Hur dianggap sebagai salah satu film terbaik yang pernah dibuat.

Versi Timur mungkin tak semegah versi Wyler (atau novel aslinya). Versi ini memilih creative libertiness untuk mendekonstruksi elemen-elemen yang dihadirkan novel dan adaptasinya yang sukses; untuk kemudian merekonstruksinya menjadi sebuah bangunan kisah ‘baru’ yang lebih ringan dan terasa pop-corn, yang tak lebih hanya sekedar hiburan semata. Continue reading “Ben-Hur (2016): Mengkerdilkan kisah besar Ben-Hur”

Ben-Hur (2016) – Review

Review: In case you never heard, there were a lot of Ben-Hur adaptations before Timur Bekmambetov’s version. Most notable version of it is William Wyler’s 1959 classic, noted for the massive 4-hour duration with a climactic chariot race, which took 5-week and hundreds of extras to complete. Regarded as one of the greatest films ever made – winning 11 Oscars, Ben-Hur (1959) indeed sets a high standard for any future version.

Timur’s Ben-Hur might not be as grand as William Wyler’s (or original novel, which inspire those adaptations). This version takes a creative liberty to deconstruct elements from both original source and the succesful film; only to reconstruct them into a lighter, colossal pop-corn flick, which serves nothing but mere entertainment. Continue reading “Ben-Hur (2016) – Review”