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”

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Beyond Skyline (2017) – Review

Review: Despite being critically lambasted, The Brothers Strause’ 2010 alien invasion flick, Skyline, is a legit B-movie success—grossing USD 79 million from USD 20 million budgets—locking the possibility of a sequel, hence Beyond Skyline. Helmed by the first film’s writer and producer, Liam O’Donnell, this sequel (or spin-off) seems to have learned a lot from the predecessor’s a-tad-too-serious execution of the campy material.

Beyond Skyline doesn’t bother to take things seriously. The result is an anachronistic B-movie feast which offers tons of fun if not weighed down by its gawkish, untidy execution and convoluted plot. The best thing about it: it can actually bring something even Star Wars failed to do—combining The Raid-esque action with alien invasion tropes. Continue reading “Beyond Skyline (2017) – Review”

Blade Runner 2049 (2017) – Review

Review: It’s year 2049—30 years following the events in the original Blade Runner (1982). A new story embarks as a next-gen ‘Replicant’, now working as a ‘Blade Runner’, retires an older ‘Replicant’ model and unravels a decade-long mystery in the process.

Blade Runner 2049 comes as a genre-bending late follow-up, which appears as a slow-burning detective story to reveal answers to both philosophical and ‘physical’ mystery presented in the premise. Denis Villeneuve’s cyberpunk sequel deliberately yet subtly mirrors Ridley Scott’s original in terms of plot and general elements, but confidently delves into a new territory at the same time. All of those are wrapped exquisitely in one of the most stunning 164 minutes in the history of life.

blade-runner-2049-3 Continue reading the review in English!

Paradoxical / 時光 (2017) – BALINALE Review

Review: Taiwanese documentary filmmaker, Mu-Ming Tsai (Hanzi, Design & Thinking, Maker), spawns his first feature film, Paradoxical—a romance drama which goes hand in hand with a modest time travel chronicle. The result is an essay of love & time presented in a low-key, dialogue-driven cinema.

The film chronicles the blossoming relationship between an aspiring terrarium artist, Shi Jing (Helena Hsu, credited as Nai Han Hsu), with a cute geek, You Kong (Kenny Yen), whose job is related to a new time-travel technology called Time-lag. You Kong gets involved in a secret mission using Time-lag with a prodigy, Yuan Hai (Yuchen Ho); while Shi Jing begins to experience existential crisis as an artist. As their relationship grows, a thread of unrelated incidents around their lives starts to unravel a complicated connection between their past and their future. Continue reading “Paradoxical / 時光 (2017) – BALINALE Review”

Gerbang Neraka (2017): Genre-defying mess

Review: Gerbang Neraka a.k.a. Firegate (literally ‘Hell Gate’) combines an urban legend about Gunung Padang in West Java with sci-fi bravura and horror apparition into making a rare genre-bending Indonesian film. The film focuses on an excavation process of the allegedly oldest pyramid structure in the world (said to be older than Giza in Egypt and Mayan in Mexico), which lies underneath a mountain. Like in other ‘pyramid films’, the excavation was plagued from beginning to end, with body counts start to rise from day to day.

There came the film’s trinity: a young archeologist who believes in no supernatural power, Arni (Julie Estelle), a struggling heresy-laden tabloid reporter, Tomo (Reza Rahadian), and a celebrity ‘demon hunter’ Guntur Samudera (Dwi Sasono). Intertwined by their own ambition in regards to Gunung Padang pyramid, those three protagonists began to intersect each other’s life and unravel a hideous secret about the mega-structure. Continue reading “Gerbang Neraka (2017): Genre-defying mess”

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) – Review

Review: After nearly two decades, Luc Besson finally materializes Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, a space adventure adapted from his childhood favorite comic ‘Valérian and Laureline’—which he’s been craving to make ever since The Fifth Element (1997).

With visual endeavors the size of Cameron’s Avatar and vibrant universe to rival Star Wars (if not Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending) also with largest budget in French cinema history, it is exactly the size of Besson’s ambition on full creative control mode. The result is an elegant (borderline to over-the-top) space odyssey if not a style-over-substance one by any measure. What Valerian doesn’t have is a compelling script to cover the whole duration.

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