Saturday, December 25, 2004

Meet The Fockers

Originally Posted On: 25th Dec 2004

If this is a comedy year, then it's gotta be Ben Stiller's year, with films like Starsky and Hutch, Dodgeball, and now, a sequel to the hit Meet The Parents. It's a logical move, given the success to the movie, and a natural continuation to meeting the other set of parents, what more one whose family name sounds so much like an expletive.

The film wastes no time in reminding you why the first was successful, with obvious jabs on the male nursing profession and his Gaylord M Focker name. The first 5 minutes sums up everything you liked about the first film nicely - "I'm Watching You" hand gestures, circle of trust, etc, before embarking on the inane journey to Focker Isle, where things get, a little crazier.

Our favourite characters like the kitty cat are back, and joined with another madcap hump-everything-that-moves doggie. In addition, we have a baby on board who adds a new dimension to innocence.

Although some plot bits are recycled from the first, like the use of hidden cameras by De Niro, and then playbacked for hilarious effect during the end credits, none of it seems contrived and you just wanna sit through and lap all of it up.

Definite must see this holiday season.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Kungfu Hustle

Originally Posted On: 24th Dec 2004

I missed the Stephen Chow movies of old, before his forays into the US Market with Shaolin Soccer and now Kungfu Hustle, where his movies were inane, slapstick and filled with witty dialogue that entirely made no sense.

But don't misread me, I'm not saying that this flick is no good. There are classic Chow moments, but somehow I feel that they ain't enough. The Kungfu and its effects remind you of The Matrix Trilogy, with its bullet time effects, and even Axe Gang members and fight scenes that resemble the Burly Brawl, no surprise though, as the fight choreographer is Yuen Wo Ping.

Character development, like all Chow movies, are zilch and cartoony, and the female lead in this film, although va-va-voom, is classic flower vase material, and she doesn't even say anything, how's that?!

Put your brains at the door and you'll have an entertaining time.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Ocean's Twelve

Originally Posted On: 18th Dec 2004

I got mixed feelings watching the film. It's supposed to be a heist flick, but doesn't feel that way. On the other, it's fun to watch the big name stars hamming it up on screen having a great time.

One of the best parts is when Julia starts to play herself, and the cameo by Bruce Willis as himself is a hoot

Other than that, the heist part is a bit of a let down - if compared to the first film, this one lacked the the sophistication of planning, twists, and the air of confidence, and everything about the heist (more than one) is told in flashbacks.

Not as fresh as Ocean's 11, but Catherine Zeta Jones, yeah she's hot

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Batman Begins Trailer

Originally Posted On: 14th Dec 2004

OK, this is a first trailer review. Well, I'm a Batman fanboy, so I guess this is inevitable.
(There is another teaser trailer released earlier, but that is not covered here)

The minute the trailer was over, I was having bat-orgasm.

Essentially, this trailer can be split into 2 parts, separated with a one line uttered by Ducard (Liam Neeson): Are you ready to begin?

The first part opens with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) undergoing various training by Ducard and the League of Shadows. It also shows the classic scene where Bruce falls into the cave.... all these with Ducard's voiceover on ideals, and to become something more than a man, capped with the one liner above

Then we enter familiar territory where the suit's chamber is opened, and for the first time we see the cowl, followed by Bruce fabricating some bat-darts and spray painting his new suit "borrowed" from WayneTech.

The trailer explodes with various montages of the Bat in action, explosions, car chases (yeah I thought I saw the mean-assed batmobile), which builds into a crescendo, and my favourite part of the trailer, which parallels Tim Burton's first Batman movie:

A thug is seen on screen, cowardly and dripping with fear.
He yells out "WHERE ARE YOU!!!!"
and the camera pulls away to reveal Batman hanging upside down
whispering menacingly


Watch the trailer at the official Batman Begins website now!

Let's see if subsequent trailers feature more key characters, especially the villains, though I suppose Chris Nolan probably wanna keep The Scarecrow as a surprise

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Phantom Of The Opera

Originally Posted On: 11th Dec 2004

I didn't have the money to watch the musical when it was in Singapore, and missed it when I was in London in August this year (another story, another time)

So when this Andrew Llyod Webber-Joel Schumacher collaboration came along, there's no excuse not to catch it on the silver screen (and at a reasonable price too)

What works in this film are the elaborate sets and costumes you'd come to expect from a Hollywood production (c'mon, in a musical theatre, there're no "outdoor" sets per se). The artistes in this film also manage to pull off the music and singing in this flick (well, I ain't a professional, but was entertained and satisfied). Little spoken dialogue when it could be featured with songs (hey, it's a musical!) Simply wonderful.

I shan't elaborate more on a storyline that most of you will already know. Go catch it if you're into musicals but lack the funds for front row theatre seats. You can't get any "closer" than what you can achieve in movies.

Ever since Moulin Rouge brought about a revival of musicals, am looking forward to see if Llyod Webber would translate more of his works for the big screen.

Blade: Trinity

Originally Posted On: 11th Dec 2004

I admit I haven't watched the first sequel to Blade, but I watched the first, at a time when comic book movies weren't all that popular after Batman and Robin bombed.

However, this film somehow lacks the chic sophisticated feel of the first movie. It does has its moments - good action, cool toys, fabulous chicks, but falls flat somehow, that you've seen it all before, and there's nothing new on offer.

3 things stand out though, not necessarily good:
1. There are a lot of shots of buildings, streets, landscape, in a fast forwarded motion, from day to night.
2. It's great product placement for Apple's Powerbook and iPod. Wonder how much millions it cost for those incredible closeups
3. Lots of creative expletives, in my opinion. Even a reply to the line featured in the trailer ("are you ready to die?") is given the expletive treatment, and the middle finger is one of the first things you'll see too.

The main weakness in the movie is the lack of strong baddies. Drake (the original vampire) has no unique value proposition, except for looking mean, thirst for virgin blood and looks great in his original form with venus fly trap like fangs.

Stay until the end of the credits if you wanna catch a 5 second clip of Blade looking mean and driving his GTO.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

National Treasure

Originally Posted On: 8th Dec 2004

It's been a long time since we last saw a Bruckheimer-Cage vehicle, and this one is as enjoyable as their past collaborations.

For starters, it will appeal to Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code fans, as the narrative is similar - myths and legends, symbols, Freemasons, Knights Templar, etc form the basis of the story. And instead of Robert Langdon, we have Cage's character solving riddles and clues that promisingly and hopefully would lead to treasure (The Sacred Feminine anyone?)

The first half of the movie dwells on the plot to steal the Declaration of Independece. Quite nicely done I must say, before launching into Dan Brown's style of cut action scenes, "Chapter cliffhangers", diving into explanations of clues left behind in the American greenback, the all seeing eye, the unfinished pyramid and the like.

Not as exotic a location setting as it's based in US cities (New York, Philadelphia, Boston got a mention, but hey, it's Hollywood!), as compared to Brown's Langdon novels set in Paris, England, The Vatican, Rome.

This should wet your appetite while waiting for Tom Hanks and perhaps Julie Delphy to emulate something similar.

Not to be missed by Cage fans, Dan Brown fans, and fans of the face that launched a thousand ships, Diane Kruger

Saturday, December 04, 2004


Originally Posted On: 4th Dec 2004

In recent memory, a film by Oliver Stone will naturally attract controversy like bees to honey. Gone were the days when stories were simplier and shorter (Platoon), and nowadays 3 hour bio-epics are norm (JFK, Nixon).

Not that I disagree strongly with the protrayal of Alexander as bisexual - hey, men in those days married and had sex with females only for reproduction of heirs. But having such protrayals rammed down your senses scene after scene, tires you. You have Alexander showing zero interest amongst scantily clab women in tribes conquered (good?), but instead you have him gaze with lust upon nubile pubescent men, and kissing them, and embracing his lover Hephaistion, while exchanging sweet nothings each time they're together in a scene. I reckon if Oliver Stone had his way 100%, we'd see a sex scene or two between them too. But instead we get the obligatory one between Alexander and his Asian bride (oh yeah, it's a woman)

Blame it on Aristotle and his teachings on freedom of love.

What is missed most, I believe, amongst simple people like us, are the scenes of war. When one thinks of Alexander, one thinks of the conquests which he had (which made him The Great, no?). Sadly, this film only features two - one in Persia, and the other in India. Nicely film, with the blood and gore you'd come to expect after films like Gladiator - great costumes, weapons, decapitated limps by blades on chariot wheels, impaled bodies from spears, elephant trunks being cut off, you get the drift.

The rest of the time is spent on politicking, backstabbing, alcohol parties, and an ooh-lala mummy (Jolie rocks) sending notes and warnings and speaks funny. The purpose of these scenes to highlight the rot in his empire, could be brought out better if the pacing is tighter. But they ramble on and on.

Archilles Wannabe. Yeah. Son of Zeus, probably not.

After The Sunset

Originally Posted On: 4th Dec 2004

This is one of those heist movies, but filled with cliches and none of the suspense that draws you into the mastermind's plans on how to successfully pull the heist off.

This doesn't have an A-list cast, except perhaps Brosnan (who by the way was dumped by 007 producers). The rest of the cast were filled by B list actors and has-beens like Woody Harrelson (his performance here, I like, in a sorta cheesy manner). Salma Hayek is under used in this role, except for whining on retirement and sunsets. Pah! Who wanna watch sunsets with you, when there's a multi-million diamond up for grabs?

Nothing exciting in the storyline - a master thief decides to retire, but is brought back into the game by a local thug who makes an irresistable offer, a washout cop obsessed with the thief because of the embarassment suffered each time he's outwitted, and a complimentary twist at the end.

Nothing exciting at all, except perhaps for Salma Hayek's curves, which she flaunts each time on screen. And oh yes, remind me not to rely too much on modern technology for automobiles.

Saturday, November 27, 2004


Originally Posted On: 27th Nov 2004

You're caught in a life and death situation - your own. To escape, you have to inflict extreme pain on yourself, or inflict it on some other soul, even if it meant mutilation, or death.

That's the premise for Saw, one of the more refreshing psychological gore thrillers since Se7en. With characters caught in the middle of scenarios as described, things are naturally more than meets the eye.

Much of the narrative is spent in a stanky toilet, and it's disgusting enough to rival the one in Trainspotting. The film ups the gore factor in treating you to other sickly designed "kill or be killed" methods.

Saw kept me at the edge of my seat, and never did I see the twist at the end coming, with all the red herrings, some of which are very obvious, thrown in. And for that happening to me, it's extremely rare.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Incredibles

Originally Posted On: 15th Nov 2004

When I heard about the production, I wondered if it touched too close to Marvel's Fantastic Four, another superhero family of sorts - Mr Fantastic, with stretch powers, The Invisible Girl and Human Torch, self explanatory, and The Thing, with extraordinary strength. Even the villain at the end looked suspiciously like Fantastic Four's Moleman!

And yes, though the powers are slightly different, (i.e. stretch powers given to Mum, the Elastigirl, extraordinary strength to Dad, Mr Incredible, invisbility given to the daughter Violet, and Dash the son inherited powers from DC's Flash), the bickering, interaction and relationships amongst the members are retained in the storyline.

Which works, wonders. Pixar has done it again, weaving strong characterization into their superhero storyline, with each family member having problems of their own, and tying it very nicely to their powers. Mr Incredible, being super strong, realizes his own vulnerability, Elastigirl using her powers to literally run and maintain the family, Violet with her powers of invisibility to hide her insecurity, and Dash, being young and eager to flaunt his powers of speed.

And any show which ties in huge doses of humour effectively will definitely win the crowd over, not to mention the strong supporting cast of Frozone (long lost cousin of Iceman?) and Edna, the suit designer. (I rate the scene between Elastigirl and Edna one of the best in the show)

Go watch it, I recommend it, it's Incredible!

Can't wait for the sequel (well, they did Toy Story II, didn't they?) to see if Jack Jack gets more screentime!

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Shark Tale

Originally Posted On: 31st Oct 2004

After watching this movie, you'll know why
Dreamworks Animation's IPO is worth billions.
Going by their success of the Shrek Movies, and
now Shark Tale, they'll be the studio that will give
Pixar a run for their money.

The premise for this animated film is similar to
Shrek's, adapting modern day icons to suit the
mis-en-scene, thus providing tongue-in-cheek
references as well as opportunities for a gag or

We follow the exploits of Oscar (Will Smith), who
lives in a fish colony modelled after New York's
Times Square, with neon billboards screaming
recognizable brands like "Coral-Cola" (Coca-
Cola), "Fish King" (Burger King), "GUP"
(GAP), "FQ Magazine" (GQ Magazine), etc.
Look out for references to Titanic (the sharks' lair),
and one liners from movies like A Few Good Man,
Gladiator and even Jerry Maguire (in one of the
most direct references towards Renee Zellweger)

As the simple story goes, it's about redemption
and learning not to lie (hey, it's a G-rated movie!),
about who your true friends (those who stuck by
you even when you're a nobody and have nothing)
and about family.

One thing I've always enjoyed about Hollywood
animations, is that the toons are carefully
caricatured after the real life actors bringing
their toon counterparts to live. Even Robert De
Niro's mole is cheekily added, and Angelina
Jolie's poutty lips are featured as well and even
Martin Scorsese lends his voice in this show.

Stay throughout the end credits, and I mean
throughout the end credits. You'll be treated to
multi easter eggs and zany moments, right up until
the final character goes "Go Home, It's Past Your
Bedtime!" and the screen goes blank.


Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Manchurian Candidate

Originally Posted On: 30th Oct 2004

This is a remake of one of ol' blue eyes movie,
updated to the modern day. Instead of having
Cold War enemies, we have big bad
corporations, and the Korean War has been
updated to the 1991 Gulf War

Denzel Washington, as always, gives a sterling
performance as a Gulf War veteran who has the
same dream as his comrade in arms, one that
questions the truth about what had happened on
one of their missions gone awry.

The first half of the movie may be similar to one of
Washington's earlier movie Courage Under Fire,
where the audience is left wondering if what had
transpired and shown to the audience was what
really was. But there's where the similarity ends. In
this thriller, it's not a whodunit, but whodidwhat.

Meryl Streep also puts in a commanding
performance as the manipulating mum of vice
presidential candidate Liev Schreiber. It just
shows you how overpowering mums can
sometimes be, especially towards mummy's
boys. This film also mildly suggests an incestous

At times this movie plods on, leaving viewers who
are expecting tight dialogue and fast action a bit
wanting. But the slight unexplained twist at the end
might leave those who have fallen asleep during
the movie go "huh?"

Recommended for Washington and Steep fans,
and for those who can sit through slow revelations,
you'll be rewarded at the end, no doubt.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


Originally Posted On: 28th Oct 2004

This story is written by the same dude who wrote Phone Booth.
Whilst Phone Booth was claustrophobic, this one allows the protagonist to roam the streets. While the former was a jackass of a protagonist, this one offers the protagonist redemption from being a jackass.

I suppose most of you would already know the premise. Woman gets kidnapped and manage to place an SOS random call to someone in the outside world, and sets off a race against time to rescue her.

While the story is gripping and characterization top notch, you'll have to suspend some beliefs on technological cellular advancement and plot holes to fully enjoy the show. But I dig the great performance of the leads and supporting actors in this film, and the humour peppered throughout.

Kim Basinger has aged. A lot.
From the hottie in 9 1/2 Weeks, to her award winning performance in LA Confidential, to the drunken stupor of 8 Mile, this one piles on the wrinkles you just cannot hide.

Chris Evans has shown his mettle. I'm eager for his "FLAME ON!" come Summer 2005 (In case you haven't known, he's cast as Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four)

I've always enjoyed Jason Statham's performance, from Snatch to The Transpotter. He's the main baddie here, but is given limited screen time to show off his chop-socky moves

If Phone Booth's your kind of movie and you're a mobile phone nut, then this one's for you. Stay put at the beginning of the end credits - it's one of the most interesting in recent times.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Ladder 49

Originally Posted On: 23rd Oct 2004

First, let me explain the movie title.

The firehouse featured in the movie has 2 vehicles. One of them is the more conventional fire truck you see around, the one with the water hoses. That truck is codenamed Engine 33 in this movie. Ladder 49 is its companion truck, the one with the mega-ladder. This truck comprises of the brave men in the fire department's rescue team, those who risk their lives going into burning buildings without water (unlike Engine 33's), for the sole mission of saving other people's lives.

Which raises the question everyone asks of emergency responders (police, fire dept, etc) - what makes them do what they do? In this case, also raised in the movie, what makes them rush into a burning building when everyone else is running out?

We follow the life of Joaquin Phoenix's character, Jack Morrison, whom we see from rookie firefighter (waterboy) to hero, from singlehood to fatherhood. This film, through his character, humanizes emergency responders, their lives, their comaraderie, their courage. It also explores relationships within their families, which is key, as family members struggle to understand the risks their spouses/fathers undertake everyday in their job.

Don't expect another Backdraft, which was more of an "arson-whodunnit", with spectacular beastly fires engulfing the screen. This film dwells more on characterization and drama, with well placed action set pieces between slow moments which will set you thinking, and at the end of the film, appreciating the courage of these brave men and the threats they face daily in their job.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Originally Posted On: 13th Oct 2004

This is an arty farty flick, no doubt about that, and I gotta admit I'm not an arty person - what made me want to watch this film is it features the hottest chinese actresses in 1 movie: Zhang Ziyi, Gong Li, Faye Wong, Carina Lau and Maggie Cheung (even though it was only 1 scene which lasted no longer than 10 seconds, without dialogue). Tony Leung is a lucky man :P

It is difficult to rate arty flicks, the reason being the themes resonates differently for each movie goer. I shall try my feeble best to explain those that are felt by myself

1. The narrative
2046 is kinda like Tarantino's. Timelines get blurred as you get zipped forward and backward, interspersed by black and white titles. It is stylistic - who would've thought smoking a fag would be shot so artistically?

Tony Leung is Chow, a character from the previous Wong Kar Wai movie "In The Mood For Love" (ITMFL). Though I haven't really seen that film, this Chow is different. Love changes a person, and here, we see a Chow who has lost love after ITMFL

Simply put, we journey with him through the 60s, where he experiences different relationships with the mentioned chicks - Zhang Ziyi (a socialite), Carina Lau (reprising her role from an earlier Wong Kar Wai movie "Days Of Being Wild", and there is a brief mention of the late Leslie Cheung's character as well, which I felt was a tribute), Faye Wong (a hotelier's daughter), Gong Li (a cambodian gambler), and Maggie Cheung (from ITMFL),
and all these while shuttling between Singapore and Hong Kong, where he stays at the Orient Hotel, right next to room 2046, which has its significance from ITMFL.

The feel of the movie was like Days of Being Wild, with Days being a chronicle of Leslie Cheung's character, and 2046, Tony Leung's Chow.

2. The story within a story
This was a bit like Hollywood's Adaptation (starring Nicholas Cage), where a writer writes his fictional story, and it gets intertwined with the movie's narrative. This one features Chow's futuristic story, which is called 2047 (the room he is staying in), and is based on his life experiences and the characters he interacts with. It is perhaps this portion that many movie goers will find confusing, as philosophical messages of love gets repeated ad nauseum. This gets played out by japanese actor Takuya Kimura and features the girls as andriod stewardesses serving passengers on a train leaving a place called "2046"

3. Relationships
This, I felt, is the core theme in the movie. Anyone who's experienced love, in whatever form, will be able to relate to the relationships explored and presented in this movie

Chow and Ziyi - passionate, physical, lust, starts with a bang and ends just as fast, one-sided (and of course, this provides the opportunity for a lot of eye candy :P)

Chow and Faye - one of respect, brotherly-sisterly love

Faye and her Japanese Boyfriend - difficulties and challenges in a relationship, cultural differences, parental objection

Faye and her father - father-daughter (duh!), parental love

Chow and Carina - long lost friendship, what could have been

Chow and Maggie - one of longing, what you could not have

Chow and Gong Li - one of substitution, rebound, as Gong Li's character shares the same name as Maggie's Su Lizhen, and is chronologically the first female lead Chow gets involved with

At times the movie drags, but if you're watching this film and feel that the pace is putting you to sleep, take a step back and explore the themes in the movie (I believe you'll be able to find something different), and how it probably relates to you.

And I think you're in for a surprise.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Goodbye Chris

Originally Posted On: 11th Oct 2004

I was saddened to hear
of your demise
your constant struggle
made many think twice
of the good life
that always is taken for granted

You made me believe
many, many years ago
that a man could fly
you brought to life
of every schoolboy's
desire to be
faster than a speeding bullet
more powerful than a locomotive
and the ability to leap tall buildings
in a single bound

is it a bird?
is it a plane?
it was all you

Goodbye Chris
May you find peace
and you'll never be forgotten
of the life you breathed
into an icon
for truth, justice, and the American way

Movie Reviews In A Nutshell #3

Originally Posted On: 11th Oct 2004

Ghost of the Abyss
This IMAX 3D movie is worth every 13 weekend bucks, even though it lasts only 43 minutes. James Cameron and narrator/actor Bill Paxton brings us the non sappy version of the Titanic, in kind of a mini "making of" film. You'll be thrilled when you follow the cameras aboard their mini submarines and bots into the depths of the ocean as they bring us back in time to the fateful day when the Titanic went down. Wreck watching would never look the same again

The 3D Effects - from credits to credits, I spent the first 5 minutes like a suaku (hey, my last 3D movie was Jaws 3!!) putting off and removing my issued 3D glasses (made by IMAX, with sizes no less). You have to return the glasses at the end of the show - they remind you before it starts, after it ends, and put 2 ushers at the door to collect it back from you. There are moments when you wince and jolt backwards when the 3D comes into play

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
This beautifully shot film was made entirely in CGI, save for its human actors. It's difficult to categorize this film into a genre - it's part film noir, part pre-WWII, part sci-fi, part comedy, part romance, part action, part .... you get the drift

I went into this film devoid of background knowledge of its storyline, save for the bits in the trailer, and I wasn't disappointed. Some folks might feel a little awkward at the beginning since it's shot differently, but once you get into the mode of things, I'm sure you'll enjoy the ride

For the girls, hey, there's Jude Law!
For the guys, hey, there's Angelina "Poutty Lips" Jolie! But sorry, she doesn't strip in this one, and lasts only 5 minutes on screen :P

Going by the looks of it, we might get to see future Sky Captain adventures

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Movie Reviews In A Nutshell

Originally Posted On: 28th Aug 2004

caught up with some movies since i'm back here in spore
here's a summary

The Bourne Supremacy: Matt Damon is back! His clueless wherest art thou look fits the Bourne character like a glove. No CGIs in this flick (or none that I noticed), which brings a fresh perspective after CGI-laden movies in recent years. Classic spy noir-ish feel with the jet-setting of locales. Back from Europe, so it appeals to me.

Collateral: The second time you see Tom Cruise taking on a villainous character, but still cocky nonetheless (who can fault him with his megawatt smile?) Michael Mann was one of the reasons why I wanna watch this film, but the REAL reason is Jamie Foxx! Been a fan of his since his Jamie Foxx Show days... and it's refreshing to see him in a non-comedic role. Paul Oakenfold's Ready Steady Go is in this one as well

Fahrenheit 9/11: Enjoyed this flick thoroughly. Makes you wonder at the end of it though, whether what's really happening is really happening as it is, or are there undertones and dealings which we the ordinary folks are not aware of and are being manipulated. One of the best parts of the show suggests Animal Farm like characteristics... all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others

Spiderman 2 at IMAX: If you like this movie, how can you not fork out that extra to catch it in its digital glory in an IMAX setting? So clear, you can see the pimples on everyone's face, and the amount of intricate work they did on the costume. Not to mention sharing the exhilatering web slinging in and around NY City

The Village: M Night Shyamalan has restored my faith in his movies. Simple story, told in a complicated way to reveal a twist (like his others), I rank this one second only to The Sixth Sense. And you were expecting a horror flick? Pah! Bryce Dallas Howard (Ron Howard's daughter) puts in an excellent performance for a newbie, and see if you can spot M Night in this movie too (just like his others)

Yet to catch Alien Vs Predator, Stepford Wives and Catwoman. Anyone wanna join me?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...