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”

The Magnificent Seven (2016) – Review

Review: This year’s Magnificent Seven, by nature, is an oddball – a remake of John Sturges’ preserved Wild West classic, which was a result of remaking Akira Kurosawa’s essential Seven Samurai. A simple classic story, which Antoine Fuqua remakes with True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk, might only differ a little from whichever source materials it follows; but, in an era of forgettable blockbusters, this one might fade in one or two years, contrasted to the everlasting originals.

While it is still the same story where 7 unsung heroes – in this term, gunslingers – assemble; the new Magnificent Seven attempts to Americanize the source of conflicts. Wiping off the classic bandit nature of the villains and substituting it with a greedy, heartless capitalist in face of Bartholomew Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) is how. In addition, it makes use of a little more motivation to make it more Western (in favor of Quentin Tarantino): revenge.

There is a prologue where a strong-hearted female protagonist (an effective addition to the storytelling) is introduced. She is Emma Cullen (Haley Bennett, Hardcore Henry and the upcoming The Girl on the Train), whose husband, along with some other villagers, is murdered in favor of Bogue’s ambition. Continue reading “The Magnificent Seven (2016) – Review”