Thursday, 27 February 2014

Movie Review: Non-Stop

Non-Stop is another highly intense, suspenseful, engaging, entertaining, satisfying action thriller with Liam Neeson stars as the one man action hero (again). Despite an old age of 61, Liam Neeson still got what it takes to be the 'man'. He has that on-screen charisma that makes people root for him. This time around, he's an alcoholic, aerophobic Federal Air Marshal haunted by his past, whose job is to quietly protect flight passengers and ensure that they land safely. The film takes place on an international flight from New York to London.

As usual with many thrillers in the past, the audiences were 'invited' to play guessing games as the film progresses...who's the real hijacker? What actually happened? What's going to happen? How the next victim going to be killed? Who's the next victim? What will our main hero do next?
This film is in many ways similar to Taken, another brilliant action thriller with Liam Neeson as an ex-CIA agent trying to rescue his daughter, but less violent and more suspense. the film does raise a few questions on flight security, the various precautions and measures taken against terrorism since 9/11.

Yes, the film has too many contrivances (However, Within the film's context, some of the contrivances work well though)...Sure, the plot is flawed and cliché-ridden...but it's sure one hell of a ride! Who cares when Liam Neeson is here to kick ass? This is one of those guilty pleasure movies, the ones that aren't great but we love for some reason.

Rating: 8/10 (Sorry, I enjoyed it very much)

Whoa...this guy was an Admiral, a Colonel, Batman's mentor, a Jedi Master, a Jews rescuer, a fantasy world deity, a wolf killer, an ex-CIA agent, an Olympian god, the first human sexologist...

Now, a Federal Air Marshal?

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Movie Review: The LEGO movie

 Based on the popular Lego line of construction toys, The LEGO movie is a fun, entertaining animated film, filled with numerous pop-culture references, together with an interesting, rather unexpected twist near the end of the film. The script was well-written, well-planned and well-executed.

The film's storyline is rather formulaic and been done many times before: It's a story about an ordinary nobody, who lives his own life by the book, go through the same old routine everyday, conforming to specific sets of instructions...believing that 'Everything is Awesome'. But soon, he realise that there's a big world out there, that you can become something special...if you believe you are, if you believe you can do it.

However, what makes this film different from the rest is the funny and laughable well-known western pop culture humours, parody, gags and puns found throughout the entire film. You just couldn't resist laughing at all. That's actually quite a remarkable feat for an animated film. The film is action-packed, in an amusing way. The CGI effects were excellent, it feels convincing that the film mostly made of Lego plastic building bricks...the vehicles, buildings, environments...even the explosions, flames, clouds, water were seemingly created entirely from Lego pieces.

In addition, there were many well-known comic-book, cartoon character appearances in the film: Notable ones are DC comic superheroes (Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash),  Lord Of The Rings Gandalf, Harry Potter's Professor Dumbledore, Star Wars' Han Solo and C3PO, Ninja Turtles' Michelangelo, Lincoln, Shakespeare and many more. They are the 'master builder', the so-called creative, intellectual ones who shapes the LEGO universe.

The film also makes you think: Why must we live a life that's practically similar to others? Can you live a world where you're required to be creative and innovative most of the time? Should we follow instructions, live your life by the book or be creative, imaginative, innovative, different than others? Why should we choose one? Why can't it be both? Is there a balance in between?

The movie's theme song "Everything is Awesome!!" initially feels a bit awkward, but as the film progresses, the song somehow fits the movie and turns out to be quite catchy and cool.

Overall, the LEGO movie will be a pleasant, satisfying watch for the kids and adults alike. Highly recommended.

Rating: 8/10

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Movie Review: From Vegas to Macau (赌城风云)

Anyone who watched Hong Kong movies from the 90s should roughly know what this film is about. From Vegas to Macau is another gambling-themed action drama comedy film directed by Wong Jing (王晶) which stars Chow Yun Fatt (周润发), but note that this film is not related to the God of Gamblers series from the past.
As with many Wong Jing's films from the past, the film is full of slapstick and nonsensical 'mou-lei-tau' (无厘头) comedic jokes, some worked, providing the audience a few laughs here and there, while some don' some of them feel forced and superficial or due to the jokes being done many times before in the past.

The film will not be as entertaining as it should be without Chow Yun Fatt's charismatic performance as the legendary gambler turned Macau casino lead security consultant, Ken. It's been a very long time since we get to watch him involved in such a comedic, charming role. It's quite fortunate that he still got what it takes to carry the film. As usual, we have Chapman To (杜汶泽) to provide some comic relief to relieve some tension in the midst of serious elements in the film. On the other hand, Nicholas Tse (谢霆锋) delivered a quite disappointing, below-average, unenthusiastic performance as the good-looking main hero who knows how to fight, possibly to provide some eye-candy for female audiences.
The film lacks in plot and character development for many of the supporting characters, which is quite common for many Wong Jing films, so it's expected. The film is at best when it's not taken seriously and just go with the 'flow', just enjoy the comedic scenes as they come and go.
Overall, it's still a decent entertaining film to watch during the Chinese New Year festive season, due to Chow Yun Fatt's incredibly charming performance.

Rating: 7/10

Monday, 3 February 2014

Movie Review: The Journey (一路有你)

 The Journey (一路有你) is a cross-continental Malaysian comedy drama film with a simple story but full of depth and meaning. The story is about Bee, who returns from Britain to Malaysia to seek her conservative and stubborn father's blessing for her marriage with a Caucasian, Benji.
However, due to Benji's lack of cultural understanding of Chinese culture and traditions and the issue of language barriers from both parties further complicates the situation, which results in Bee's strict and conservative father, Chuan strongly opposes the union. But, due to a series of unexpected events happening at that time, Chuan reluctantly agrees to give his blessing in the end, with some terms and conditions.
Soon, the journey begins with Benji and Chuan riding a motorcycle together to deliver the wedding invitations to Chuan's ex-primary schoolmates all over Malaysia. Throughout the journey, the two learn valuable lessons about love and accepting each other’s differences.
The film successfully depicts the Malaysian Chinese culture and tradition, the love between father and daughter, life-long childhood friendships that transcend time and culture, the liberal views of our current young generation, the unpredictability and fragility of life...all in one film. The script is genuinely funny at times, emotionally poignant and relatable to all Malaysians. It's incredibly rare to see a local production of this quality. It's a tremendous accomplishment for the Malaysian movie industry and it's something that we, Malaysians should be proud of.
Moreover, the cinematography is surprisingly stunning for a local production. The film is shot on various locations in Malaysia: Cameron Highlands, Ipoh, Penang, Kedah, Melaka, Sabah and Johor. The film captures the beautiful sights of the country...the hills, paddy fields, beach, bridges, etc. The props used in this film...the old furniture and decorations in Chuan’s or any of his other ex-classmates' houses provides a feeling of authenticity to the film.
The Journey is mostly a character-driven story, the film shines due of its wonderful casts. Lee Sai Peng (李世平)is wonderfully cast as the mopey and grumpy old man. On the other hand, Joanna Yew Hong Im (尤凤音), a daughter who seeks love and approval from her father, and Ben Andrew Pfeiffer, the initially impatient, carefree British guy who eventually learns to accept the cultural differences of Malaysians and his own. They also provide a convincing performance as an interracial couple together, managed to convey believable character emotions for certain scenes in the film.
Overall, it's one of the best Malaysian Chinese film ever made, don't miss it. It's a film for the young and old, a film that exceeds my expectation. It's better than many of the trashy and pointless foreign Asian productions out there now. Highly recommended.

Rating: 8.5/10