We finally saw Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens the evening of the 18th, a day after general release. I discovered that trying to write a review about it was impossible for me.
I will get to that soon, but what about the movie itself?
It was to me an excellent Star Wars story with new characters interacting with the old, swashbuckling their way through space to save lives. I suppose the story beats did get too close for comfort to the original trilogy, but with characters that were amazingly developed and actors who had great chemistry with each other. It was a fun movie. Although there were some things that I did not like about it (such as how it was possible to see the First Order's beam from a planet too far away), these things are trivial compared to the fun experienced from watching it.
I loved it!
But why do I love it?
Earlier this week there was a drive via online social networks for a sequel of 2012's film Dredd starring Karl Urban as Judge Dredd. Known as Day of Dredd, there were many posts and tweets about it across the internet. Even Psi Judge Anderson actress Olivia Thirlby herself made a thank you video for fans who helped with this drive.
Dredd was an enjoyable, very tight, very focused story with just the right balance of grittiness and the absurdness of the future social dynamics of Mega City One. Its violence is very explicit, assaulting viewers with the atrocities of the film's villains. It sets the tone for the grimness of the situation of having Dredd and the rookie Anderson trapped in a vast but somehow claustrophobic Peach Tower residential block by Ma-Ma, the local drug lord played by Lena Headey.
Of course the dire circumstances only serves to accentuate how cathartic the payback is to the criminals when Dredd regains the upper hand. It's no spoiler he would eventually get the upper hand. How he gets there is a roller coaster ride.
Would a Dredd 2 emerge from this effort? Let's hope so.
Here's my contribution to Day of Dredd on Twitter:
The onslaught of summer movies is upon us.
We've caught the first of them, Iron Man Three. Here's Irfan with Benedict Cumberbatch behind him just before he watched the movie.
Yes, yes, yes. We saw Iron Man and not Star Trek that evening.
SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT
After five years of buildup by Marvel Studios across 5 movies from Iron Man
(2008), The Incredible Hulk
(2009), Iron Man 2
and Captain America: The First Avenger
(both 2011), we've finally reached its culmination this year in The Avengers
for the Marvel Studios' movie continuity, also know as Earth-199999. (Regular Marvel Universe is Earth-616, by the way.)
Here follows a SPOILER-FREE review of the movie co-written and directed by Joss Whedon. Heck, I wont even give away anything by having a synopsis.
A Thor movie. Can you believe it? Produced by Marvel themselves instead of licensing it out to another studio? Directed by Kenneth Branagh? I wish I could go back in time to tell 13-year-old, comic book fan Hisham how awesome the future will be in the movies. He would go nuts. In a good way.
So how does one adapt the tale of super-powerful Asgardians into a movie continuity that will also include Captain America, Hulk and Iron Man? It appears the answer to that is, "to totally embrace them as interdimensional space beings using supertechnology so advanced it appears as magic to humans". And boy does it totally embrace that fact, and its Silver Age Comics origins - with some Ultimate Marvel elements. Make no mistake, this is not a primer to Norse mythology. This is a story where superheroes are kicking ass and taking names.
VERILY, THERE BE SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT! A WARNING!
After 28 years, the sequel to Disney's Tron is finally upon us. Tron Legacy, produced by the original movie's director Steven Lisberger and directed by newcomer Joseph Kosinski, had a unique problem. Tron had a connection to the computer and gaming lore of the late 70s and early 80s, with its simple vector graphics and sounds. The home computer for the consumer was still rare. The general public had very little clue on how computers work. The World Wide Web is still almost a decade away. How can one create a modern sequel to a movie based on anachronistic world view of technology?
Very simple. Just build upon the even more fantastic elements of the first movie and move on from there.
SPOILERS BEYOND! SPOILERS!
Inception is by far one of the most enjoyable science fiction movies in recent memory.
I went in cold, save for information gleaned from the trailers. I knew it was a heist movie where characters try to steal information from their marks via shared dreams. What I got was a story that was surprisingly not convoluted, where exposition - all the "if / then explanation" - was delivered in advance and easily understood.
What was explained was still pretty fantastic, and when the fantastic occurs onscreen it takes your breath away.
Spoilers to follow! SPOILERS!
One might be tempted to review Toy Story 3 as such: “The toys from Andy’s room return in the third installment of Toy Story for another wondrous adventure for the children, reuniting the voice talents of Tom Hanks as Sheriff Woody, Tim Allen as Buzz Lightyear, Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, the Grand Nagus Vizzini as Rex the Tyrannosaur, Major Derlin as Hamm and the ghost of Jim Varney as Slinky Dog”.
But movie is far more than that. It’s a perfect bookend for the trilogy, dramatically and visually. It’s been 10 years since the first movie and Andy’s all grown up and is ready to move out to college. All his belongings are going to be either stored in the attic or thrown away. Andy has decided to store his remaining toys in the attic, much to everyone’s relief.
It wouldn’t be the great and fun life they had before, but at least they would have each other until the end.
Tony Stark is back on the big screen again in Iron Man 2. And this time he's brought more friends as well as enemies.
General thoughts about it after watching it last Thursday: Another awesome movie which Robert Downey Jr. starred as Tony Stark, but also allowed every character to shine. No one was wasted.
The story is much more complex, which I guess made it more difficult for the filmmakers to make a tighter movie like the first one. But excellent performances around and a much more epic final battle (that made the first movie's a little two-round bout) made up for it. As per the first movie, unlike most modern superhero movies no one dresses in black and broods like a 16-year-old. Maybe, they find themselves in deep thought for a bit, but after the apparently-therapeutical "engineering montage" everyone's happy and eager to fly and blow crap up.
And now we move on to spoiler territory with a point-by-point review.SPOILER ALERT, YES?
A gigantic spaceship appears in the skies above Johannesburg 28 years ago. A million starving insectoid sapients are found in the ship, and ferried groundside. Now, a guarded slum area called District 9 exists in Johannesburg that tries to keep these alien "prawns" away from humans, while the Multinational United (MNU) administrates District 9 as it attempts to pry secrets of alien technology from the dumb prawns for profit.
The movie District 9 doesn't have a particularly original storyline. In fact its premise is largely based on and a commentary on the apartheid in South Africa. It's not really very hard sci-fi, with a lot of the science relegated to background. We see and marvel at alien technology and its effect but we don't go into details. Its hand-held shakycam effects are not as motion sickness-inducing as say The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield, but it does have some jitter even when there's no in-universe camera in action.
However, all these different factors (which includes an awesome improv performance between stars Sharlto Copley and Jason Cope) mix together perfectly to create one of the best science-fiction movie in recent years. One might argue that it's this mix of uncertain factors that made Star Wars a hit 32 years ago.
SPOILERS beyond this point, sirs.
In the first Terminator movie, if time travel convention is to be adhered to, just before John Connor's troops stormed Skynet and was on the verge of destroying it in Timeline A, the human resistance is screwed the moment the T-800 Model 101 went back in time moments before Kyle Reese did. What actually did happen? Was that Skynet destroyed in Timeline A even as the T-800 terminated Sarah Connor in a new divergent timeline (Timeline B) in which case John Connor never existed and Skynet was triumphant? From Timeline A, Kyle Reese went back and stopped the Terminator creating Timeline C. Do all these three timelines exist simultaneously?
If you didn't stop to think about it all however, thanks to the superb direction, story and visual effects - if you are sufficiently entertained - then Terminator was a flawless movie. Similarly with Terminator 2: Judgment Day, the movie was entertaining enough that you don't question how different Skynet in Timeline C was from Timeline A since the new timeline had a technology boost from the future (the T-800 chip and forearm).
Yes. You always have at least one scene (and usually more) in every episode of the show. You know the kind of scene they have:
"I said, run!"
"Did you say..."
And then present company goes tearing down a corridor or a hallway or an alien cave at top speed being chased by a monster or an alien or both, usually lethal.
That's the kind of energy I found in almost every other scene in the new Star Trek movie which is entitled, uh... Star Trek.
The limited series comic book Watchmen
was released by DC Comics more than 20 years ago. Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, this comic was the start of a new age in the medium. Along with its contemporary, Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns
, it deconstructs the superhero genre by showing us what extreme conditions can produce costumed crimefighters, what kind of personalities they have and what happens to them when they are considered illegal... all existing in an alternate 1985 timeline where Nixon is still the president of the United States and the world is living in the shadow of imminent nuclear war.
Because of the very rich and detailed storylinetold within the space of 12 issues and several fictional documents per issue, such as book exceprt, interviews, letters, news and magazine clippings to support the main narrative, almost everyone wants a Watchmen movie adaptation but decided that it was too complex and too nuanced to be distilled into a two hour (plus change) feature film.
How difficult would it be to translate the Watchmen to the big screen? From my point of view, the star of the Watchmen aren't only the characters. It's also the world which they live in, the quotable script, the story, the situations, the flashbacks, the narrative structure. They can make a thousand different variations of the origin of Superman in the movies and TV, live action or animated. But there can only be one way to tell Watchmen: the way Alan Moore written it.
Last night I saw the Watchmen movie adaptation directed by Zack Snyder, and did I like it?
In January I promised I'd take Irfan this month to watch Geng: Pergembaraan Bermula (The Gang: The Adventure Begins), a new computer animated, feature-length movie which also features the hyperactive preschooling twins Upin and Ipin from their eponymous computer generated TV series on TV9.
Little did I know that I was about to behold THE best Malay movie I've had the pleasure of seeing in my years of being sort-of alive in this particular corner of the multiverse.
The overall story was great. The little character moments were great. I laughed dozens of times throughout. And every technical aspect of the filmmaking is leaps and bounds better than 99 percent of any other Malay movie ever made.
I finally saw Star Wars: The Clone Wars
The short version of it is this:
I went in expecting three episodes of a Saturday morning cartoon series jury-rigged and strung together to form a 90 minute movie. And I got what I want and a bit more. I loved it. If you didn't already know, the movie is actually that: three episodes of the cartoon spliced together for a theatrical showing after George Lucas saw the episodes on the big screen during meetings with the production team. And I can't wait for further episodes.
The story is nothing heavy or dramatic. Amongst the many battles of the the Clone Wars, Rotta the Hutt, Jabba's infant son has been abducted and the Jedi assigns Generals Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker to investigate, pick up the trail and return the Huttlet back to its parent. In return, the Grand Army of the Republic would be allowed easy access through Hutt Space, which would allow better movement of troops and asset from the Core to the Outer Rim. However, the Confederacy of Indepedent Systems (a.k.a. the Separatists) will not make it easy for Kenobi and Skywalker to do so.
The story takes place between Attack of the Clones
and Revenge of the Sith
. Let's be a bit more precise. Based on Anakin's hair length and his lack of a padawan braid, I'd say the series / movie takes place between Chapter 21 (where Anakin loses his padawan braid) and Chapter 22 (the events prior to the mission to Nelvaan
) of Gennady Tartakovsky's Clone Wars
And to be even more precise, their onscreen misadventures also take place some time after the comics Star Wars Republic #67 "Forever Young" where the clone troopers still wore the Phase I armour at Zaadja. However, Anakin gets his scar from Asajj Ventress (who also makes an appearance in this movie) in Star Wars Republic #71 "Dreadnaughts of Rendili Part 3" when the Phase II armour (the Revenge of the Sith clone armours) have been long in use. So I'm guessing the troops serving with Kenobi and Skywalker were some of the last to switch over to the new suits. We also see reconnaissaince troops wearing a camouflaged scout variation of the Phase II armour like Commander Gree's aide on Kashyyyk in Revenge of the Sith.
Warning! Spoilers are dropping out of hyperspace beyond this point.
WALL-E, directed by Finding Nemo's Andrew Stanton, is indeed according to Ben Burtt, "R2-D2 the movie ". And as any Star Wars fan knows, Burtt has been the Academy Award sound designer for all the Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, as well as a writer for the Droids cartoon TV movie The Great Heep which featured R2-D2 and C-3P0. So, there is no one more skilled than him in crafting mechanical sounds that elicit emotions in viewers.
WALL-E is the acronym for Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth-class, a trash management robot designed to clear the immense volume of garbage from an uninhibitable Earth, and left behind when all Humans have evacuated into ships in space. We also see two WALL-As - Axiom-class robots later in the movie.
However, it's been seven hundred years since he first started his job and all the other WALL-Es are damaged beyond repair and dead. Over the course of seven centuries, the remaining WALL-E is still doing his job, has developed sapience, emotion, and a hobby of collecting interesting trinket. Also, he has a fondness for his pet roach who follows him around, keeping him company on his job rounds.
Light spoilers will follow. But it's not as if you can't figure out what's going to happen just looking at the trailers.
The Joker is not the Clown Prince of Crime in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, the sequel to his 2005 movie Batman Begins.
Crime is just a tool and a means to an end. And that end is a total breakdown in the order of Gotham City. Not just anarchy, but absolute chaos. Heath Ledger is for me now the best Joker actor around (or not any more, as the case may be), edging out Mark Hamill's performance who was previously in my top spot. He is a frightening character, not because he's creepy or insane, but he seems to be the one most in control of everything, did the best planning, execute his plans, keeping everyone on their toes by constantly hitting them with his machinations left and right at the same time
Even if he aims to create chaos, his methods are far from chaotic. That's what makes him frightening.
SPOILERS will manifest into words after this point. SPOILERS alert.
Hooray for Cheap Ass Wednesday.
Because of Cheap Ass Wednesday, it's cheaper for Irfan, Ain & me to catch a movie than it is for me to buy one novel to read. That stinks to high heaven but it's a rant for another day if I'm bothered to do it.
Ain didn't feel well enough to get to work that morning. So I picked up Irfan after classes (so he skipped daycare) we went to Cathay Cineleisure where a lot of movies await us. Some really good ones are out cause we're smack dab in the middle of the summer movie season. I chose two movies for us to enjoy.
No spoilers ahead!
The new movie from Marvel Studios entitled The Incredible Hulk has been released. The movie is about a man who has been altered by an overdose of gamma radiation causing him to transform into the nine feet tall, green-skinned monstrous creature known as the Hulk.
The movie is directed by Louis Leterrier and stars Academy Award winning actor Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, William Hurt as General "Thunderbolt" Ross, Tim Roth as Emil Blonsky and Tim Blake Nelson as Samuel Sterns. Ty Burrell also makes an appearance as psychiatrist Dr. Leonard Samson.
Oh, who am I kidding. This isn't really a review for the unwashed masses.
This is me hulking out comic book geek style over an awesome comic book-turned-movie, which is in my opinion, a hundred times better than the 2003 Ang Lee movie only entitled Hulk which I first saw when it was shown on TV3 last week.
I fell asleep before the end. But that Hulk is really bright green though. Really bright green.
Beyond this point, SPOILERS shall patrol the streets. You have been warned.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull shows that Henry Jones, Junior has been busy for the last 19 years as it's now 1957. Has it been almost 20 years since Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? Man, I feel old.
Apart from giving a straight review, this movie requires a bit of dissecting and we shall now dissect in SPOILER territory.
SPOILERS! Avert your eyes, like this Russian chap below! Indy's helping him avert his eyes, even.