Reviews written by registered user
|178 reviews in total|
Here's my review of #IceAge #CollisionCourse. Let this be the last one.
How many more can we take of the same old excuse of presenting Manny in
different stages of his life and just slap it with some kind of journey
to either find underground dinosaurs or defeat some kind of cataclysmic
event like asteroids destroying the earth. What's the next Ice Age
movie about? The stage in Manny's life in his twilight years with his
grandkids as they're all journey on once more to stop El Nino that's
again caused by Scrat? Please don't tell Blue Sky Studios I said that,
don't give them ideas.
Scrat's in space and up to no acorn good again, his shenanigan this time causes cosmic events that threatens the ice age world. Meanwhile, Manny has to deal with his daughter's upcoming marriage to Julian, a mammoth that means well but he gets under Manny's skin, plus the thought of giving his daughter away is unbearable to any dad, much less Manny. All of a sudden space rocks start falling from the sky and the biggest one yet is about to hit earth. Sid, Manny Diego, Buck and the rest of the herd must leave their home and embark on yet another quest to stop the end of the world.
By this time it's obvious that the actors involved with this project either don't have anything better to do or they're just doing it for the paycheck because as a film, "Ice Age: Collision Course" is a snoozer, I kid you not, I was at the press screening and I fell asleep twice. And there were times when I spent much of the time looking at my watch wondering when the film's end credit would roll just so I can tell which A-listers were part of the voice cast, turns out, there were plenty of them.
"Ice Age: Collision Course" has two or three exciting moments thanks to my favorite character, Buck, voiced by Simon Pegg, but for the most part, this film is more like "Ice Age: Has Run Its Course." Whatever it was that made the first "Ice Age" an Oscar nominee for best animated category, is now gone. This once adorable heartfelt friendship story has come to its end. All this latest installment essentially does is just exist. Nothing more, nothing less. But with any animated family film, you have to ask the question.. will the kids enjoy this one? Sure, I think so, I think they'll have a good laugh at it and why wouldn't they! So perhaps Fox should've released "Ice Age: Collision Course" straight to home video and let the daycare centers play it for their afternoon segments.
-- Rama's Screen --
Here's my review of Woody Allen's latest film, #CafeSociety starring
#KristenStewart and #JesseEisenberg and let me just put it this way,
this is a very Woody Allen film. There really is nothing new here, if
you've seen Woody's films in the past, you've pretty much seen CAFE
SOCIETY and for some, that probably means good because you get what
you're expecting to see, but to some, Woody's usual order of
championing infidelity wrapped in a dish full of rom-com may seem a bit
The story is set in 1930s, a young Bronx native named Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) moves to Hollywood to work for his uncle, Phil Stern, who is a film mogul, an agent to the stars. Stern's secretary, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) agrees to show Bobby around town, get him adjusted to the glamorous life as he starts networking with the who's who of tinseltown. It doesn't take long for Bobby to develop feelings for Vonnie who is actually already in a secretive and forbidden relationship. This leads to heartbreak which then leads to Bobby returning to New York where he finds life as a family man while running a high society nightclub he inherited from his gangster brother.
Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy CAFE SOCIETY, I suppose I fall under the category of those who are kinda glad to be getting what we're expecting to see. And yes, big reason is because I'm a fan of Kristen Stewart who just looks so cute and luminous in this film, every time she steps in, she immediately lights up the room, no wonder Jesse Eisenberg's Bobby has that look on his face, like he wants to just eat her up. I don't know how, perhaps it's the costume or the makeup, but the film does a good job of making her glow. But back to the film itself, it has a jazzy tone, very fast paced, it's very situational as well. It's elegant and charming mostly because the focus on Hollywood's golden age is front and center. And the contrast between that place and New York is quite amusing. At times the film even feels like watching "Family Guy" in that it often cuts to moments that either try to explain the characters or try to give that one two seconds of hilarity in between. The actors aren't really given enough for them to further explore their characters but it's clear that that was never the film's intention. Can CAFE SOCIETY sit among Woody Allen's best works of all-time? Probably not. This is definitely not "Blue Jasmine." But I tell ya, again and again, from one film to the next, Woody just loves preaching the same sermon of.. if your spouse if fine but doesn't rock your world, it's OK to venture out, the grass may indeed be greener on the other side anyway. So the question is whether or not you're OK with that sermon.
-- Rama's Screen --
I think any horror fan who thinks LIGHTS OUT is a great horror movie,
should have their fandom questioned. This is one of those movies that's
just so bad, in every aspect, you end up laughing the entire time, hell
you might watch it again because it's funny, you treat it like a comedy
I think the only thing that LIGHTS OUT has going for it is that it's produced by James Wan. Wan has become a big brand name in horror, and rightfully so, I think he's a skilled storyteller, and so his name is what the producers and filmmaker hope would drive audiences to see LIGHTS OUT and they're going to use Wan on every poster and trailer, they're going to market his name, but if you think that the film going to be close to being as decent as anything Wan has actually made, you might want to lower your expectations.
LIGHTS OUT marks the feature film directorial debut of David F. Sandberg, who directed the film from a screenplay by Eric Heisserer ("Final Destination 5"), based on Sandberg's own short film. Teresa Palmer plays Rebecca who left home and her childhood behind, but now her little brother, Martin, is experiencing the same thing she went through as a child which are unexplained terrifying events that seem to happen whenever the lights go out. Turns out, a mysterious entity has been attaching herself to their mother all those years, but as Rebecca gets closer to unlocking the truth, the more resistant and dangerous this entity becomes.
It has an interesting core concept, I give them that, the concept that the demon can only attack you in the dark; that any type of light (doesn't have to be UV, this is not a vampire story) would scare her and ultimately harm her. So yes the concept is interesting but perhaps Sandberg should've left it alone as a short film. LIGHTS OUT is just so poorly executed, and it insults our intelligence, not to mention how the demon originated, old photos of her when she was a little girl, the way she looks, the way the backstory is told, it just doesn't get more generic than that, the whole thing feels like a parody or as if you're watching another installment of that "Scary Movie" franchise. Let's just put it this way, if you're easily scared and you enjoy watching low-rate dreadful films like "The Grudge" and "The Eye," then you wouldn't mind LIGHTS OUT.
-- Rama's Screen --
THE BFG may not be "E.T.," or "Hook," or "Jurassic Park," but it has
signature marks of a wonderfully exciting Steven Spielberg family
adventure film. Yes the great director Spielberg is back after making
his rounds through a few tense dramas ("Lincoln," "Bridge Of Spies") to
bring us this lovable visual effects-filled story about a courageous
little girl and the big friendly and somewhat shy giant.
Based on the book by the late great author Roald Dahl whose imagination has made the world a little bit better with such works as "Charlie And The Chocolate Factory" and "Fantastic Mr. Fox," THE BFG tells us that when it comes to being brave, size doesn't matter.
Starring Spielberg's latest go-to actor, Oscar winner, Mark Rylance as the title character and a resident of Giant country. Standing 24-feet tall, Rylance's character has enormous ears, great sense of smell, he talks funny and he fancies his job as a dreamcatcher. When he's spotted by a little orphan girl named Sophie, played by newcomer Ruby Barnhill, he takes Sophie with him to Giant Country where there Sophie finds that other giants in the area are not as friendly, giants like Bloodbottler (Bill Hader) and Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement) are twice as big and they bully the BFG and they also eat children. The BFG however is somewhat of a vegetarian, he consumes these disgustingly lookin' Snozzcumber and Frobscottle. But things start to get unsafe for Sophie to remain there, so the BFG decides to return Sophie to the orphanage. But Sophie insists that they should stand up for themselves and stand up to those bullies. So they acquire the help of none other than the Queen of England.
This little actress, Ruby Barnhill, is quite a treat, she really plays her age really well, meaning she's so curious and full of questions, that's what kids her age do, she's idealistic and optimistic, and Barnhill has all of that and a bag of chips. Rylance is perfect in his role, because there's that sense of child-like wonder also on Rylance's expressions that are of course magnified by CG, Rylance's gentleness and charm shine through naturally.
I can see why Steven Spielberg and Disney really wanted to bring this story to the big screen, not only has the technology caught up to it, but also because it has those feel-good inspiring themes; it's a story about two lonely misunderstood characters that become friends; it's about tackling giant problems by using solutions that may seem giant to some; and it's about being brave even when the world doesn't give you a reason to be. From time to time, Spielberg loves going back to wildly imaginative stories like The BFG that's just all around wonderful.
-- Rama's Screen --
When you look up the word 'original' in your dictionary, you might find
a poster of SWISS ARMY MAN next to the definition. This is simply the
best movie of 2016 in my book. It's outrageous, it's visionary, it's
full of humor and heart. To those of you who often complain that
there's nothing original to watch in theaters anymore,
writing/directing team Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert have come to
Paul Dano plays Hank, stranded on a deserted island, about to commit suicide because to him, all hope is lost. And suddenly he sees a corpse named Manny (Daniel Radcliffe) who changes everything. Hank is determined to use his new multipurpose friend to go on an epic adventure that Hank hopes would bring him back to the woman of his dreams.
Brought to you by the guys behind "Turn Down For What" video, SWISS ARMY MAN is what happens when you let filmmakers run wild with their active imagination. It's a story about a man scared to take chances on love and life until a dead man who farts a lot has to show him how much fun letting loose and taking chances can be despite the outcome. Writing/directing team, simply known as DANIELS, pack this film with all kinds of surprises, like one of those nesting dolls, just when you thought you've seen what Manny can do, he can do another thing and another and it doesn't stop. And I'd like to see it as DANIELS channeling their limitless creativity through Dano's character, Hank, because Hank is the one who's got the skills to utilize Manny in order to create something that's either fun or simply useful.
Never have I seen a movie that celebrates farting as much as this. Some might dismiss SWISS ARMY MAN as absurd but this film wears absurdity proudly like a badge of honor. And to me the fart jokes and the corpse jokes, the erection jokes, they even have Jurassic Park jokes, are all just the vehicle that drives this friendship story. You have one character who's dead inside, and one character who's literally dead, interacting in a way that looks insane to some, but DANIELS crafted in a way that makes Hank and the audiences feel hopeful at the end. So this ain't some kind of "Weekend At Bernie's" long lost cousin. Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe fully immerse themselves in DANIELS' vision, although I'm sure at first they may have had trouble imagining what they read on the script. But the commitment of those two actors is evident on screen, they don't hold back. Accompanied by fantastic and super catchy score/soundtrack, SWISS ARMY MAN is a cinematic celebration that you can't get enough of. Bound to be a favorite to many; bound to be an instant classic.
-- Rama's Screen --
Drake Doremus' EQUALS, starring #KristenStewart and #NicholasHoult, is
a sweet and fascinating Romeo & Juliet story. It has similar traits as
Doremus' 2011 "Like Crazy" in that it plays into that deep longing and
desire for someone and the system just wouldn't let these two souls be
together. It's set in some kind of futuristic dystopian utopia, where
society practically abolishes coupling, romance, even having some kind
of feeling, which is why I say EQUALS is what those many young adult
novel adaptations out there wish they could've been but weren't.
Written by Nathan Parker, the story has Kristen Stewart play Nia and Nicholas Hoult as Silas, two people in the same workplace, they have the same routine as everybody else in their company. This is a world where everybody gets assigned their jobs and they don't deviate from them. After years of wars and violence, society decides that it's best for mankind to not have any kind of emotions, so they've created a way for that to happen. Anybody who feels any type of emotion is said to have a bug and usually they get quarantined but even there they're told that they're worth nothing now and suicide is the only way. But Nia and Silas can't help noticing a growing attraction between them which leads to a forbidden relationship. Turns out, there are other 'hiders' as well, people who pretend they don't have emotions when in fact they do, and they're determined to help Nia and Silas escape.
Though it's not an adaptation, the film really does move and feel like those young adult novel adaptations, which is why I made the comparison earlier. But what Doremus successfully managed to do is focus on more on the relationship and less on any wishes for an uprising. The focus is mostly on Nia and Silas. And the actors who play them, Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult are so in sync, their chemistry doesn't just exist, it's electrifying. It's been a while, probably since "The Notebook," that a couple could have this much energy that burns the screen.
If you've come to see what type of science fiction technological advances this film might show, if it would have flying vehicles or laser weapons or talking robot, EQUALS has none of those things. It has some cool computers, but they're hardly the supporting roles. And that's what I also enjoy about this film, it's simple yet gripping, it's familiar territory but very up close and intimate. And Doremus' quiet, subtle yet stylistic approach lands perfectly. It's like if Stanley Kubrick and Spike Jonze co-made a movie together. EQUALS may not have been a completely new concept but this is one that's done really well. It's a deeply-affecting love story.
-- Rama's Screen --
I think THE NEON DEMON is a fabulous horror that many would mistakenly
file under a WTF film. Writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn is one of
the few original voices out there, I've been a fan of his work for
quite some time and this latest, THE NEON DEMON is nothing short of
fascinating. Mysteriously sexy, hypnotic, shocking and scary yet very
irresistible. It allures you, it seduces you and ultimately it devours
Elle Fanning plays an aspiring model named Jesse, your typical small town U.S.A girl who moves to Los Angeles in pursuit of her dream. Things start to go well for her, so well that other girls in the business start to see her as a threat. Turns out, there's something about her youth and vitality that leaves some in awe and others in hatred.
Let me say that Elle Fanning is a remarkable young talent, she's so captivating on screen, to the point where at times I don't even remember anymore that she actually has a sister, Dakota, who used to be in a string of big budget movies. As the aspiring model Jesse, you can see Fanning's wide range of skills on display as she goes through Jesse's arc from innocent to dangerous. It's quite amusing to see Jena Malone, Abbey Lee, and Bella Heathcote play these supporting characters who are basically jealous of Elle Fanning's beauty, I say amusing because my goodness, Jena, Abbey, Bella and Elle are all beautiful in my book, any guy would be damn lucky to be in the company of those four gorgeous ladies.
But watching THE NEON DEMON is a total mind-trip, so many colors and so many artistic or creative choices that may seem brazen but they fit the story well. Refn is never one to shy away from experimenting with new possibilities and illustrations just to get his point across, even with the accompaniment of graphic violence. Like a fly that can't keep its eyes off of a UV light, that's how the audiences will be fixated on this film. That said, at the very heart of it, THE NEON DEMON speaks about society's view on youth and beauty, especially when it comes to women. It's no secret that when one hits a certain age, even when she still looks fine by regular standard, all of a sudden, certain industries no longer see her as beautiful. I'm reminded of that classic fairy tale when the mirror tells the witch she's not the fairest of them all, THE NEON DEMON also depicts the ruthlessness of the competition that comes out of such deep envy. It's a cruel, cruel world, and Refn disturbingly captures it in his own cruel, cruel way.
-- Rama's Screen --
SEOUL SEARCHING is not a great film about Asians. It's a great film,
period. Yes, it features all-Asian cast but the story is universal, the
themes are universal. And for those of us who grew up fans of John
Hughes '80s high school coming-of-age dramas, what writer/director
Benson Lee had crafted here hits home.
Based on Benson Lee's own experience as a teenager, SEOUL SEARCHING is about a group of Korean teenagers/high schoolers sent from all over the world to participate in a government-sponsored summer program to help them connect with their heritage. Of course, since they're at the age of puberty and rule-breaking phase, all they could think of is how and when to party, but along the way, with any luck, they might make friends, fall in love, and learn something about their heritage after all.
As Asian myself, I think we need more movies SEOUL SEARCHING, movies that don't put Asians in stereotypical roles of just martial artists or doctors/scientists. But you don't have to be Asian to appreciate and enjoy SEOUL SEARCHING because there's a part in all of us that's always curious to know where we came from and what we're all about even if we choose to not realize it. And just like John Hughes, writer/director Benson Lee treats his characters, who are supposedly teens in this story, with the utmost respect and without insulting their intelligence. Today's generation may not fully understand how hard it was for kids their age back then, no internet, no social media, limited means of looking up stuff on your own and so they had to look up to other personas, mostly the ones on MTV.
It's funny how when you're younger, you desperately try to tap into certain identities that you think represent you because you're still in that phase of searching, which is why this film hits the mark on so many levels. As you get older, we look back and wonder why on earth did we ever wear those clothes or have such hairstyle. SEOUL SEARCHING does a great job of re-capturing the '80s in terms of its looks, the costumes and the music, you can tell who's inspired by Run DMC, who's inspired by Madonna and so on and so forth. The characters in this film are unique, they're Koreans born in other parts of the world, they come in with different perspectives, different habits, different ways of doing things, so to see them colliding as some kind of melting pot over a span of just one summer, of course hilarity, heartbreak, and certain revelations ensue, at the same time, SEOUL SEARCHING is also a gentle old soul longing to bestow its wisdom on us.
Great cast; memorable cast, each and every last one of them. Esteban Ahn's Mexican korean character in particular has some of the best lines in the film. Of course my favorite would have to be Jessika Van's rendition of Madonna's "Like a Virgin," which is amusing and you can't help but be admired by the focus she puts into that performance. SEOUL SEARCHING is nostalgic, fun, and heartfelt. I think it's good for people to learn and ultimately come to respect their heritage, I don't think it should be a mandatory government program, but I'm glad such program did happen in the '80s for these folks because otherwise, Benson Lee wouldn't have been able to share his great experience with the world.
-- Rama's Screen --
EAT THAT QUESTION: FRANK ZAPPA IN HIS OWN WORDS documentary is unique
and eye-opening, one of the best docus I've seen all year. Those of us
who are familiar with his legacy would respect him even more from
watching this and those of us who may not have heard of Zappa, would
see this film, and instantly become his newest fan.
To be honest, I didn't grow up listening to Frank Zappa's music and this documentary reminds me why that is. It's because Zappa's music is an acquired taste, if you will. His music is extremely unconventional, he would arrange complex bands and combine all kinds instruments and and styles and orchestra to perform his composition that more than often would have average listeners scratch their heads. I wonder if his music would have a place in today's short attention span social media/internet generation where everything has to be catchy and instant every single minute.
But I'm a fan of Zappa the person, the artist, who doesn't give flying two-cents whether or not his music can be played on the radio or if it's commercially viable in the ears of records studios that only think of the bottomline.
The title wasn't joking when it said 'In His Own Words,' this docu is as unique as it gets because director Thorsten Schutte completely throws the book out the window and instead of going with the usual talking heads or interviewing loved ones remembering about Zappa, Schutte goes straight to the source. By using archival footage of old interviews with Zappa, his TV appearances, concert recordings, 'EAT THAT QUESTION' brings Zappa to us, as if his timeless words of wisdom have been resurrected once more and it feels all the more impactful hearing it straight from the man himself. This docu doesn't only celebrate Zappa but it also gives him a fresh look. Who knew that the man whose hippie appearance was striking and memorable was actually a family man who believed in anti-drug use. His protest against censorship is probably my most favorite part of this docu, it reminds us that time and time again there will be forces from the narrow-minded right wing who'll try to take our freedom of speech away, so it's important for today's generation to learn from Zappa's legacy and his fight to stay true to his art and ideas.
-- Rama's Screen --
O, my goodness, I wasn't expecting this at all, I seriously thought
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE was going to be your usual predictable story
about an orphan who looks up to an older man as his father figure. But
the level of brutal honesty coming from all the characters is just off
the charts. This is hands down, one of the funniest movies of the year,
I couldn't stop laughing.
Writer/director Taika Waititi who gave us "Flight of the Conchords," and "What We Do In The Shadows" is back with this story set in his origin place of New Zealand where a defiant city kid named Ricky (Julian Dennison) finds himself at a home of a new foster family, an aunt that actually cares for him and Uncle Hec (Sam Neill) who'd rather be left alone. But a tragedy strikes which motivates Ricky and Hec to go on the run while a national manhunt ensues and brands them outlaws.
HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE is absolutely hilarious, calling it a crowd-pleaser is spot on, no better way to describe it. And as I said earlier, the characters in this film are brutally honest, there's no holding back and the comedy lies in this huge case of misunderstanding. But deep down, the kid just wants to be part of a family that for once wouldn't quickly give up and leave him out to dirt at the first sign of trouble. I've never read Barry Crump's book which was the basis for this film, but I'm guessing Waititi saw something in that story that resonates because we all want to fee like we belong somewhere; we don't want to feel like some kind of vagabond or a stray. So despite the fact that this kid, Ricky, is hard to deal with and he'll make anyone frustrated, you can tell that he's just an angry and scared teen and when you look at him from that perspective, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE will leave a lasting impression in addition to it being ridiculously funny. The things that Ricky says and does, you'll be laughing out loud till it hurts. Julian Dennison is a revelation, I hope he gets more gigs from this point forward.
-- Rama's Screen --
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