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
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