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A little rushed to provide a truly satisfying ending
The direct sequel will not win any new fan of the live-action adaptations. Those who hate the first part, this is not any better. This has the same flaws. I enjoyed the first part and I enjoyed the second part. But the novelty feeling of watching the big CGI set pieces somewhat diminishes.
The story: The film starts with a long flashback of what happened previously which is unnecessary as the first part was released just about one and a half months ago. Eren is captured and there is a debate on who he is actually. I won't spoil the story but there is a new titan and a few twists up its sleeve. The short runtime, 1 hour and 27 minutes, does not do justice to the ambitious scale of what the live-action adaptations should have. Thankfully it is not boring and contains enough action set pieces including a heavy CGI climax. However its character's development is underwhelming that I felt almost nothing for them. At the end of it, it does not feel like a journey of the characters, it feels more episodic than a rousing finale. Acting wise is alright; there is no improvement. Music is somewhat jarring in this one. I know the music for the first part is a weird mix but this one is more noticeable.
Overall: It is worth the watch just for a sense of closure but it could be much better given the scale. I enjoyed it but not as much as part 1 due to the rushed pace. I feel that the live-action adaptations should have been at least a trilogy. As a stand alone film, it is pretty enjoyable but as a closure, it does not deliver what it is expected of.
*Minor spoiler* It is inevitable that they do not want to end the story of the adaptations just here. Perhaps due to the success of the films, they may move forward for a third part.
Shingeki no kyojin (2015)
A big budget Japanese film that is full of exciting visuals but skims on characters' development.
I am not a fan of Attack on Titan however I read the first few volume of the popular manga. The manga is action-packed and tense enough with lots of characters' deaths. The film, noticeably has a few major changes, is fortunately as action-packed but with its short runtime of 1 hour and 38 minutes, its characters' development is undercooked. In the end, ignore the awkward characters' development and you will get one of Japan's most visually interesting films.
The story: It starts slow before punching straight into the destruction and gore. The opening scene establishes the relationship among Eren (Haruma Miura), Mikasa (Kiko Mizuhara) and Armin (Kanata Hongo). It comes a bit cheesy with the music but overall, the scene did its job. When the destruction, it is a spectacle. The Titans are cleverly a mix of human suit and CGI. The huge set pieces throughout the film look visually good albeit some cheap-looking scenes. I have enough knowledge to know some of the changes such as the popular character Levi being replaced by a new character. The setting is true to the source material however as I recall, the setting for the climax is different (It is shot in the ruin outside the wall). The injected humour falls flat. Acting wise is alright for most cast. They have a lot of emotions to portray except looking glum. Some tend to overact and some are awkward. Music is a little off at times but it is serviceable during the set pieces.
Overall: It received overwhelming negative reviews from the fans that the filmmakers had to defend the film's creative changes. I think it would fare better with general audience who are looking for a big budget Japanese movie packed with good visuals and action. I enjoyed it as I didn't think too much about the creative differences. Is it worth to catch it in cinema? If you like watching a big budget film on big screen. As a two-parter film, I am not sure how this will end as the manga is currently ongoing.
There is a special preview for part 2 in the middle of the ending credit.
More reviews on: http://moreviewsed.blogspot.sg
An equally thrilling yet safe installment to the franchise
Tom Cruise is back and though he is ageing, he still proves he is capable of stunts. Mission: Impossible - Rough Nation is an action-packed thrill ride but everything is familiar from the mysterious organisation to the double-cross agent. It does not deliver anything we have not seen in the Mission: Impossible franchise. Luckily, director Christopher McQuarrie injects the same thrilling energy into his set pieces and keeps the pace fast enough.
The story: IMF is disbanded and a wanted Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is determined to bring down a mysterious organisation, the Syndicate. Yes, that is all the story offers. The series of action set piece push the story forward. Director Christopher is known for his smaller film, Jack Reacher. From the get-go, he is determined to show that he can handle an action film on a bigger scale. The beginning shows Ethan hanging for his dear life on an airplane. And the action gets bigger and disappointingly balloons down in the climax. This is one of those action films where the climax cannot top the big action scenes in the beginning and middle. The notable action scenes are in the opera and an extended set piece where Ethan breaks into a power station and ends up on a thrilling motorcycle chase. Perhaps Christopher realised that he could not top them so he opted for a more personal and smaller scaled climax. Acting wise is the usual in the franchise. Newcomer Rebecca Ferguson plays a decent character. Music by Joe Kraemer is great.
Overall: Is it worthy to be in the franchise? Yes, it is. It has all what a Mission: Impossible film needs. However, as with Tom Cruise ageing, the franchise is close to loosing its steam with its already-seen-it-all plot. What this franchise could do is to have a fresh take on the spy genre. With the sixth film announced, let's hope it can be something more than just a big- bang action film.
Terminator Genisys (2015)
A solid but forgettable action-packed movie
The Terminator is back with a strange title, Genisys. It is clear that they are eager to continue the franchise however they do not know how. Terminator Genisys shows promise to the visionary world of James Cameron but it is hampered by non-stop big and loud action scenes, it does not stop to develop the story further. That said, it still capture the interesting premise of time travel. It is better than Terminator Salvation but that is not saying much. What you get here is series of thrilling and big CGI heavy action set piece that propel the story forward.
The story: It starts off in 2029 where John Connor (Jason Clarke) and Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) set to destroy Skynet. However they are too late, it sends a T-800 back to 1984 to kill John's mother, Sarah Connor. Kyle volunteers to go back and save her. From there, the ball starts rolling. Loud action piece after another. Alan Taylor (director of Thor: The Dark World) proves that he is capable of directing huge CGI action scenes and it shows. Although they are not very imaginative, they are serviceable for action fans. He became too engrossed in showing the audience what he could do with CGI that he neglects character's development and plot progression. The pace moves quickly and does not get boring but when you take out some action scenes, the movie will fall apart.
Emilia Clarke plays a decent Sarah Connor. Arnold Schwarzenegger is back with his usual stone-cold Terminator's expressions. The rest is alright but forgettable. Music by Lorne Balfe is decent enough with enough hints of the iconic theme. However the iconic Terminator theme can only be heard in the ending credit.
Overall: Terminator Genisys is a big budget blockbuster choke full of action and CGI. It is a thrilling yet exhausting ride but there is nothing that particularly sticks out to me. For one watch, it is good. Even the action scenes will wear out if you watch more than one time. If the idea of a planned trilogy move forward, let's hope it will get better.
More reviews on: http://moreviewsed.blogspot.sg
A tepid action thriller without much thrills
Surprisingly, this seems to be inspired by the book, Tracers, by J.J. Howard. Although, it is not listed as an adaptation, the book and the movie follow the same plot. Taylor Lautner acts in a low-budget action movie that seems to take the Direct-To-DVD route. Unsurprisingly, the trailer is unconvincing. Perhaps, the trailer didn't show much except pointless parkour scenes. So when I watched it, I have already lowered my expectations. It turns out that the movie is just borderline entertaining. Calling it an action thriller is an overstatement. The story: Taylor Lautner acts as Cam, a bicycle messenger, who is in debt. One day, he knocks into an attractive female, Nikki (Marie Avgeropoulos). And guess what, he becomes interested in what she does: parkour. If you are wondering where the story is leading to, for the first hour, it is leading to nowhere. You see Cam training hard and falling for Nikki. There is no sense of threat and there is no life-threatening or thrilling action scene. The last half and hour sees Cam realising what he has involved himself with. The action plot catches up late and it becomes rushed and pointless. It is almost for the sake of action sake, a character turns into a 'villain' and gives Cam the chase of his life during the climax. The parkour and chase scenes are not too bad however at times, they are marred by extremely shaky camera work. Acting wise is just passable. Music is serviceable during the action. Overall: It is screened in Singapore's cinemas. I would say the shaky camera work and tepid action storyline are not worth the watch on big screen. It is disappointingly tepid when it is classified as an action thriller but if you are able to overlook at its classified genre, it may be worth a watch on a rainy and boring day.
Du cheng feng yun II (2015)
Loads of fun in Wong Jing's bigger sequel
Wong Jing is back with more madness, action, explosion and a longer runtime. As every sequel tries to top its original in every way, From Vegas To Macau 2 is no different. Lots of explosion, lots of wacky humour and more CGI, if these are your entertainment, the movie will do you no wrong. From the opening gun fight to the CGI climax, the story is kept brisk to keep your attention in check.
The story: Chow Yun-fat is back as the titular gambler, Ken, with the magic hand. This time, the movie exaggerates his skills with CGI poker cards until it almost becomes a fantasy. But that's to be expected in a Wong Jing's movie. This time, the location is shifted to Thailand where Mark (Nick Cheung), an accountant in a money-laundering syndicate, DOA, is chased by Interpol and DOA. Ken has to save him and help his protégé, Vincent (Shawn Yue). Wong Jing tries to pack in everything that is entertaining into a 2 hours movie. Though it feels bloated, expect a lot of crazy and random fun. Don't expect a coherent story and character development and it will be an enjoyable entertainment. Action is ramped out. The action scene in the middle sees a break-in of the safe house with lots of explosion and gunfire. The movie's climax turns into a CGI set where a fight breaks out in an airplane. Music is serviceable. Direction and acting is fine too.
Overall: It is an enjoyable movie for the Chinese New Year holidays. There isn't anything new served but if you are looking for a low-brow funny action-packed movie, I don't see why this won't fit the description. With everything ramped for the sequel, fans will be able to enjoy the second outing. With where the movie ends, I wouldn't be surprised if Wong Jing returns for a third outing.
More movie reviews: http://moreviewsed.blogspot.sg
Seventh Son (2014)
A mildly entertaining 3D adventure for the start of the year
The long-delayed young adult book adaptation finally shows up on big screen. Asia noticeably has an earlier release date. The question now is "Is it worth the wait?" For a movie delayed this long, people have already forgotten about it so I won't be surprised if it flops at box office. This gets as generic as what a fantasy period film can be. It is packed with every cliché you find in the genre however it is still entertaining with its action set pieces, decent CGI and 3D.
The story: Jeff Bridges plays a gruff Master Gregory who has lost his apprentice (Kit Harington) during a fight with a powerful witch (Julianne Moore). Thomas Ward (Ben Barnes) is chosen to be Gregory's new apprentice. And there you go, an action-packed adventure with perilous monsters and witches lurking. Nothing in the movie surprises, even the twists have been seen before. There are a few set pieces including a full-blown climax that use extensive CGI. Although entertaining to watch, they are lacking in the creativity department. Acting wise is alright. Music is generic but does elevate a sense of peril during the action.
3D: It is surprisingly decent. I thought it would be another sloppy post-converted 3D movie that barely has depth. The 3D effects work the most during the CGI set pieces with monsters chomping right at your face. It has a reasonable amount of depth between characters and the background.
Overall: Is it worth to watch it in cinema? Only if you are interested in young adult adaptations. If you don't, you are not missing much. It has all the clichés what a fantasy period movie has and does not break any new ground. Is it worth the wait? Probably not. But if you are in need of entertainment, this would just entertain you for 2 hours.
More on: http://moreviewsed.blogspot.sg
Dracula Untold (2014)
Too short to fully suck my attention
It is one of the Universal Monsters reboots. And I am not impressed yet. The re-imagining of Dracula of turning him into a sort of anti-hero sounds promising but the movie is too short to suck the audience's attention. With the short runtime of 1 hour 32 minutes (plus credits), there is little things to do. Everything seems rushed to meet the time. The development of Dracula is rushed. What you will be watching is a generic medieval war movie that just happens to have vampires and bats.
The story: It is a seriously straight-forward plot given the short runtime. Vlad (played by Luke Evans) faces troubles and dilemma of protecting his family and people and turns into the titular monster. Surprisingly the movie starts out slow, there are no big battles. The first twenty minutes puts Vlad in a realistic problem of saving his family and people. When they are threatened, he turns to an mysterious sorcerer for a way out. As he becomes a superhuman, he has to fight the urge of human blood. It leads to what we all know, Dracula. The story is like any other war movies but with a dash of vampires. There are only a few action scenes. Though they are decently choreographed, the disappointing thing is that Vlad's real strength is not properly realised in any of those action scenes. Sure, there may be some great CGI of bats swarming around but that's all. For a big budget movie, it is flat out disappointing. Acting is passable. Luke Evan is so-so. Dominic Cooper is in a wasted role who does not appear many times. Music wise is okay, sounds generic.
Overall: With a big budget, I was disappointed at how the movie turns out to be. It seems that first time director Gary Shore has a visionary idea about the whole thing but it is not fully realised here. Instead it turns out to be an ordinary action flick. Vlad has a lot of potential to develop and show but it is not justified by the rushed runtime and tepid action scenes. If this becomes a franchise, I hope the future sequels will turn out better.
More reviews: http://moreviewsed.blogspot.sg
Tekken: A Man Called X (2014)
A big step down from the first movie
I know the first live-action movie was not well-received by fans and critics alike but I enjoyed its decent fight scenes. It was a guilty pleasure. I guess I could say that because I am not a fan of Tekken though I have watched the CGI Blood Vengeance. Now, back to this movie, the prequel is shockingly inept; it is extremely low-budget and features some half-baked choreography, story and editing. I may not be a fan of video games but I know if the movie tries to recreate the moments of the games and this has none. The characters do not look anything like the characters in the game. I thought I could let it go since I am not a fan but the fight scenes do not even make up for it or the lack of story.
The story: Kazuya wakes up in some unknown hotel room. He is confused about his identity. Shortly, some action happens. I thought it will be an action-packed ride given the short runtime. However, the thought was short-lived. It does contain some fight scenes but they are shockingly normal; none of the characters have distinctive fight styles. Unlike the first movie, the choreography is boring and uninspired. Each fight scene is quite short; shorter than one and a half minutes. Take out the name, Tekken 2: Kazuya's Revenge, and you will get an uninspired action movie that is almost pointless to watch. There are many annoying pointless slo-mo scenes of characters walking and walking and bad editing. The acting is not that good too. Music is alright.
Overall: There is almost no saving grace in this. It makes the first one looks like a classic. I could at least see some efforts used to create the look in the first movie but in this, there is none. There is no distinctive style, no interesting things happening and it looks like it is shot fast with not much consideration of locations. There may be many tepid movies based on video games but this is one of the worst movies. It just does not look appealing. Not much to recommend here.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
Far from the overwhelming negative critics' reviews
Producer Michael Bay reboots the franchise with Jonathan Liebesman on the helm. As far as gritty reboots go, this is actually far from dark. It has plenty of light moments although things are kept in a realistic fashion (such as the humanistic turtles' designs). It is a movie that all ages can enjoy; it does not have the sexual tone in a Michael Bay's movie. Jonathan, known for his Wrath of the Titans and Battle: Los Angeles, know his action beats well enough and keeps things fast paced.
The story: Megan Fox plays April O'Neil, a reporter, who stumbles upon an attempt robbery by mysterious Foot Clan. She becomes obsessed in finding the mysterious vigilantes who have stopped the robbery. The plot is straight forward but Jonathan keeps the pace fast enough to last through 1 hour and 41 minutes. Mind you, the turtles are not properly revealed until the 20 minutes mark into the movie. Once the turtles are revealed, the movie becomes a CGI fest. Each of the turtle has a distinctive look and characteristics that is easy to tell on screen. Fortunately, Jonathan knows how to direct action decently although at times, the CGI is a little overwhelming. The last 40 minutes is packed with action; a exciting raid in the underground lair, an exhilarating break-out escape and an explosive CGI-laden climax. The action seems to be influenced by Michael Bay; slo-mo and lens flare. The villain, Shredder, is a little bland and solely exists to show off his wide range of blades. His background story is not properly laid out but he does a decent job during the action scenes, showing his menace against the heroes. Acting wise is alright. Megan Fox plays her role better in this than in the Transformers movies. The rest are not memorable. CGI looks good, the CGI of the turtles and Shredder are decent. Music by Brian Tyler is decent but not very memorable.
Overall: It delivers what general audience wants; fast paced story with decent CGI action. Looking at the incredibly negative reviews by the critics, I have to admit that this is nothing more than a mindless action movie with little soul but it is far from the worst movie this year. As usual, the movie ends off by hinting that more things are on the way.