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21 reviews in total 
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Nerve (2016)
Probably a Hit or Miss, 18 September 2017

Given the low ratings, I had expected this movie to be a lot worse than it turned out to be. That's why I think maybe it's a hit or miss? The things is does right - some people will relate to and some people couldn't care less about?

In the list of what it did right, I would say: the portrayal of the relationship between kids and their technology. Their lives revolve around technology. You even see the characters doing their things from the perspective of their screens (laptop screens or tablet screens or phone screens).

The next would be the audience mentality. You have a bunch of "watchers" who send dares to the "players" and send them money when they complete the dares. The dares get more and more ruthless as the movie progresses. (Not unlike the Hunger Games audience, eh?) At points I did question whether people can really be that ruthless, but the movie implies that this audience has lost touch between the line between reality and entertainment. (Again, not unlike the Hunger Games audience.)

Finally there are the characters. Yes, you have a bunch of stereotypical tropey high school characters. But there is a decent amount of effort to subvert some of those tropes.

Ultimately, this is a mindless thriller. (If it tried to do any commentary on audience mentality, it didn't do a good job of it. Any commentary that I gleaned from it was by drawing comparisons to the Hunger Games.) But it's a pretty solid thriller, but probably only if the whole relationship-with-technology aspect connects with you (or if the stereotypical high school setting doesn't take you out of it).

An Obscure but Incredible Story, 17 September 2017

The story of Noor Inayat Khan is not a famous one. In fact, it is one of many incredible WWII stories of bravery. It wouldn't even be a special story, except for the fact who would have thought there was a real life WWII spy who was an Indian (well half-Indian) Muslim woman? THAT in and of itself is incredible. The documentary aspects were good. The parts that were acted out though (because of course they didn't have any footage) were kind of stiff and wooden. But the actress who played Noor Inayat Khan did a fantastic job.

9 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
I actually REALLY liked this, 25 July 2016

Of course I was aware of the "sexism" narrative built around this movie. And yes, I was motivated to watch it in order to support the movie because it received so much hate. I was aware that it's possible that the sexism narrative was blown out of proportions to hide the fact that perhaps this was a poor movie.

I rented out the original before going to watch the reboot because I wanted to support the original too. And because I didn't really remember it. The original was a lot of fun, but from a 2016 perspective, there was a TON of things that made me cringe. I could elaborate, but I'm not reviewing the original here.

And finally when I went to watch the reboot, well, I was surprised to find that I enjoyed the heck out of it. I was completely engaged the entire way through. I loved the characters, I loved their backstories, I loved the interactions between them. I'm not a huge action person, and maybe that's why I liked the action and thought the characters looked really cool.

At first I had been in the camp of why would you need to shove the fact that it's an all female cast in your face all the time. But watching the movie, I realized that it did mean a great deal to me to watch women be so cool, whether in the action scenes or in their knowledge of science, engineering or history.

I get that many people think that this was mediocre, but, honestly, there are a lot of people out there, and I suspect these would be women who like action or fantasy or sci-fi or similar genres who would really enjoy the heck out of this movie.

Allegiant (2016)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
*Diverges* from the flawed source material; does not improve upon it, 21 March 2016

I have decided that I do not like what the director, Robert Schwentke, has done with the franchise. He directed the second film, Insurgent, and the third, Allegiant.

I can understand why anyone would want to deviate from the source material because there were many problems with Veronica Roth's writing. The books had a flimsy premise but excellent commentary. To reconcile the two, Schwentke got rid of pretty much all the commentary and turned the franchise into a B-grade sci-fi action flick, the kind with over-the-top "futuristic technology" and over- the-top post- apocalyptic landscapes. The major changes in the plot make it very campy, when the books weren't all that campy to begin with. If this franchise was trying to live up to the Hunger Games films, it did not go in the right direction.

There are some positives - the cast did a fantastic job. Shailene Woodley's Tris in this film is a major improvement from Insurgent, in which "she cut her hair and grew an attitude" (as my brother described it). Theo James as Four (and to some extent, Ansel Elgort as Caleb) was given a bugger role and did a pretty good job. Miles Teller had been the best thing in Insurgent and he continued to be hilarious. He's very different than his character in the book, but I'm not complaining, because he is incredibly entertaining. Zoe Kravitz as Christina was okay. I'm glad that she got enough screen time to have a major role in this film. I also think the movie deserves serious props for having a very diverse cast, both in terms of race and gender.

It is interesting that we are going to get a fourth film - Ascendant. The third film, while it didn't follow the book, does very roughly end where the third book ended. Minus the incredibly controversial ending. Which makes me think that Ascendant will likely be an original story and might diverge from that ending, but we shall see. I'm glad that we're getting a different director for the final installment.

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A beautiful modern fairytale, 7 November 2015

It is clearly set in modern day, but the story has strong fairytale vibes, weaving in folklore and legends with the endearing 2D animation, and the folktales seem to have parallels with much of what the adult characters are experiencing.

This is the tale of a little boy who discovers that his sister is a selkie. We don't often get to see touching stories about a brother and a sister, and this was a welcome addition!

It was also refreshing to watch a 2D animated movie; the medium is seriously dwindling. This is a film from the same people who made Secret of Kells, and in my opinion, this was much better.

Lucy (2014/I)
0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Pretend its a Comedy, 19 November 2014

If you think this is an awful movie, I totally get where you're coming from.

But I'm serious. Pretend it's a comedy or like some kind of intelligent parody. The science and logic are so unbelievably ridiculous, that there seemed to be no way that the film makers would take it seriously. Yet they do take it very seriously. And you can either balk at how inane the movie is, or you can pretend the film makers had a great sense of humor.

I'm not saying it's so bad it's good. I'm saying the amount of ridiculous is so high in this movie, that it's hard to believe that it wasn't meant to be intentional.

My friend and I were laughing so hard in the theater I'm afraid we might have confused the other viewers. But then they started laughing too. And I know none of those scenes were meant to be funny.

All of that aside, I do think Scarlett Johansson was great in the role, and this really isn't the type of role I would expect to have a female lead, so at the movie has that going for it.

But I recommend this movie only if you're able to watch like it's a comedy.

Big Hero 6 (2014)
9 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Disneytacular!, 19 November 2014

It's Disney, of course I enjoyed it. Big Hero 6 has the same type of feel recent Disney movies have had starting from Tangled, to Wreck- it-Ralph to Frozen (and you might have noticed that those 3 movies were highlighted in the Big Hero 6 trailers – "from the creators of …"). I can't put my finger on exactly what these films have in common that earlier films didn't, but clearly they make up a new "era" of Disney movies. I wonder what it will come to be called.

Big Hero 6 had great characters. Hiro and Tadashi were great, and I think it was a big deal that they were mixed race, and that their lives incorporated aspects of both Eastern and Western culture. Although that was also partly due to the portrayal of San Fransokyo. I've never been to Tokyo, but I've been to SF enough times to recognize the structures and it was fun to see it get a Japanese architectural twist. The concept of this mash-up city is kinda weird because it raises all sorts of questions about geography and the politics of their world, but the movie makes it not matter. The point wasn't a sound world-building with logical explanations. It was to create a great sense of East meets West. I would've loved to see more East, but hey, it's a start!

I loved the message of pushing the limits of what you can achieve with science. Hiro is a child prodigy who graduated high school at 13 and now is bored with life and doesn't want to go to college for more of the same. But then his brother takes him to his (Tadashi's) lab, and Hiro is amazed by the cutting edge technology that he sees there. It really speaks to him and he is really inspired to contribute to robotics.

You may have seen from the trailers that Hiro designs the super- suits (because this is after all a superhero movie) for the other members of the team, but what was awesome about the group is that Hiro isn't really the only brains of the team. Each of the super- suits actually incorporates tech that the respective member developed, except Fred, I suppose. But Fred is hilarious, from his slacker appearance, science enthusiasm to his family history. Gogo is funny because of her deadpan attitude and she reminds me a bit of Melinda May from Agents of SHIELD. Wasabi is fun and reminded me a little bit of Cyborg from Teen Titans. Honey Lemon was a pretty great character because she was smart and geeky and girly all at the same time. They have varied personalities, none of them stereotypes, and most importantly they each care about their tech deeply and love to expand the possibility of the uses.

And then there's Baymax. Easily the best thing about the movie. Baymax never ventures into the WALL-E territory of a robot having emotions. Baymax operates within the bounds of his programmed logic. We might think he gets excited when he is flying with Hiro, but he really is only reacting to Hiro's emotions. Yet, he is so absolutely lovable, and so funny in how he takes everything so literally, and can deliver emotional scenes without ever having "free-will". I also loved that the flying sequences reminded me so much of How to Train Your Dragon.

All that said though, the movie does fall a tiny bit short of packing the emotional punch we got from Wreck-it-Ralph, or the great sense of superhero team we got from the Incredibles. But it opens up exciting doors, and all MARVEL fans out there can also carry on the tradition of trying to spot the Stan Lee cameo and waiting for the after-credit treat at the end.

Pompeii (2014/I)
96 out of 172 people found the following review useful:
rofl, 26 February 2014

I got dragged to see this. I knew it was going to suck. It sucked in a "it's so bad it's good" kind of way. I was never bored. Mostly laughing and saying, "You know nothing John Snow."

But you know a movie is bad when it ends with a scene that is supposed to be emotional and tragic, and the whole theater bursts out laughing.

I feel like there's no point in me going over how poorly written the characters were, because I'm sure everyone else has already done that. The romance was extremely random. It's like they didn't even care about the story.

To be fair, the visual effects were great, but really, today there are so many movies with great visuals, this one does nothing new. Although it turns out that the filmmakers did their research for this film and the set designs and the eruption were very true to fact (except for the lava bombs and the tsunami) and even the ash-figures we see at the end were based on (stress on based on) actual figures that were discovered. So that raises the film a bit in my respect.


Atticus: Which bastard will be the one I kill today? Me: Ned Stark's bastard.

Sorry. :P

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Okay, so I finally got to watch a movie in IMAX-3D and it was worth it, 16 March 2013

I do think that the 3D in this movie was great or maybe just the IMAX 3D was great. And maybe that's why it is getting such a high rating from me. The story wasn't fabulous but I expected it to be terrible (based on the trailers). But I was pleasantly surprised how well they tied it into the original Wizard of Oz story - or tied it in as much as they could. As in I'm surprised that they even put in this much effort to tie it in with the original story. I'm thinking of Wicked and how it was more like a different version of the story rather than a prequel.

Overall, the movie was entertaining. I was really tired and about to fall asleep while I was watching it. But it was interesting enough to keep me awake. Although I must say I didn't like the very last scene because (without spoiling it) there was no justification for it - it was like a cop-out reward to a character and it also actually doesn't work with the original story now that I think about it.

Anyways, I would recommend it just for the 3D. The opening sequence and the floating down the river sequence were fantastic. And it really did make it worth it.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
I liked how the film *didn't* try to be politically correct, 16 March 2013

Every other film (of not many) I've watched which deals with Muslim identity conflict issues, there is this tendency to try to be politically correct so that you're not alienating non-Muslims or liberals while at the same not offending the more conservatives. In the end it leaves neither party satisfied. I liked how this film unashamedly didn't try to find the middle ground. It told it like it is. Okay, I don't know what it is like. I know nothing of the Muslim punk rock scene or any other punk rock scene. But really, nothing about this movie felt pretentious.

(Most of) these punk rockers really push the ideals of don't be who your parents want you to be or who society wants you to be or what the Qur'an tells you to be - be who you want to be. That's kind of cliché. I've seen that way too many times. But the film does keep it fresh by having the Taqwacores rebel in unorthodox ways. Like Rabiya who wears a full burqa covering every inch of her body down to her fingers. She doesn't do it out of devotion to Allah or Islam. She does it to make a statement. I could (sort of) relate to that. If you meet someone who doesn't drink or smoke, or someone who's still a virgin, you might assume they're a "good girl / good boy" who is a goody-two-shoes and plays it straight and doesn't dare to embrace who they want to be inside. But isn't it possible they've made a conscious choice - not because they think this is wrong - but because they think they don't need to? Because they're secure in their decisions? Don't get me wrong, I don't think the Taqwacores are secure in their decisions. In fact, beneath all that confident protesting against societal norms, there is a highly veiled layer of deep insecurity. At least that's what I felt. I got that vibe especially from Jehangir. And did I love that character to shreds! I love the message he sends out at the end - who are the Taqwacores to exclude Taqwacores who are "different" when Taqwacores themselves are excluded by other punks because they are "different". People always have the tendency to segregate and to exclude those who are "different". Even those who are excluded themselves. For example, homosexuals might be more accepted by the wider population these days, but bisexuals and asexuals are still weird and even homosexuals find them weird. This might be a bit of a generalization and I may not have a large enough sample to make these generalizations.

I liked that this film led me to think outside the scope of the film, but I kind of wish it did address some of these ideas on its own.

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