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9 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
A blockbuster mutant with hybrid powers of an entertaining spectacle & a good film, 1 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Some call this a brilliant franchise reboot, while others might say that it's the star of this summer thus far. I say that X-Men: First Class is a blockbuster mutant, one that sports the hybrid powers of a commercial box office cash cow, an entertaining spectacle, and a good film. Dramatically fueled by some great cast performance, X-Men: First Class makes sure that the message of being different and proud to be, gets across firmly.

Usually from the first frame of the film, you'd know through some insane gut feeling if it'd be a good film. X-Men: First Class is one such film that sends good vibes as it begins in 1944's Poland during World War II. The first chapter of a young Erik Lehnsherr who is able to bend metal gates when emotionally charged, especially of grievance and anger.

That very Erik, as most of us know it, will eventually become Magneto.

Erik is well portrayed by Michael Fassbender who exudes a charismatic demeanour of a classic British spy/gentleman. In aid of simplifying that, think of him as a good resemblance to a young 007 - James Bond.

Daniel Craig should be worried.

Everything points towards that, with the Cold War setting and a offshore stand-off between the US and the Soviet Union in Cuban waters, two of the greatest powers in history. There's an innuendo hint at the real-life Cuban Missile Crisis as they used it to create tension, although not to suggest factual evidence.

Wait, or did mutants actually had a part in it?

That is very much so in the first two thirds of the film when Erik befriends a young Charles Xavier (James McAvoy), who manages to inspire him to goodness that enlightened his magnetic potentials. Strength comes from somewhere between anger and serenity, that sentence alone underlined the core virtues and wise maturity of a young Professor X.

Much like how Charles is the glue to all the mutants featured in this film, Director Matthew Vaughn (of Kick-Ass fame) did an exceptional job and inspired us that blockbusters aren't just a measure of blatant bang-bang-booms and exorbitant senseless sequences. In maintaining a great momentum and pace throughout the 132 minute blockbuster, he confiscated the entirety of the audience's attention span of interest and never giving back until the credit roll.

There's a much desired focus on the story and character development (credits to a big team of story and screenwriters), which in my opinion is the greatest strength of the film that gives it a worthy edge over so many blockbusters that have revolved around the weary tried-and- tested formula. The dialogues were kept witty and at times amusing, which is uncommon of the one-liners often abused by summer blockbusters. Keep in mind that this is another Marvel superhero adaptation, so my expectations prior to the screening was somewhat along the line of a loud routine entertainment.

I was so wrong about it.

There's spectacular action when called for, but never saturated and overboard. Just what'll suffice and contribute to plot plausibility. For that, Vaughn gains my admiration and respect when most other blockbusters have the pressure of installing intentional crowd-pleasing plot devices with the "more is more" mentality when it's really just senseless overkill.

All the action you'll find are very nicely coated by stellar visual effects (by the likes of Weta Digital) and scored by Henry Jackman's influential music. I'd also like to add that the score played a critical role in veiling this film with the intended serious overtone and gave it the right feel that also helps with setting the right rhythm. Think along the line of how music gave Avatar its atmospheric life and how it also made Inception feel so grand and mysterious. Production values are very high indeed, especially when you can expect a naval confrontation between an American fleet and a Soviet fleet disturbed by the play of mutants.

Not all of the sideline mutant characters enjoyed adequate limelight in an attempt to avoid the overcrowding disruptive effect on the plot, but Raven (Jennifer Lawrence), Hank McCoy (Nicholas Hoult), and Emma Frost (January Jones) were given some and they made good of the opportunity. Some even offered the audience great eye-candy that doesn't feel forced upon.

Before you'd begin to think that nobody remembers the bad guy, there's Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw (also the nightmare nemesis of Erik's ill-fated childhood) who really resembles an ambitious Hitler with menace. Memorable and rather short-lived in my opinion, but there's no doubt about Bacon's performance here (we're talking about a veteran here, after all).

So there's a great cast, good star performance, alluring story, gripping pace, pleasant eye- candy, high production value, beautiful visual effects, and appealing action sequences. That doesn't sound like a blockbuster, it's a mutated form of it.

Mutant and proud.

Oh and that's not all, also do watch out for a crude brief cameo by a key familiarity.

Forever (2010/II)
Love is insane, and I'm loving it!, 3 March 2011

Standing alone knee-deep in elements of bizarreness and quirkiness, this is a distinctive fare of romance cinema by Singaporean Director Wee Li Lin that is nicely portrayed in a light- hearted overtone. Despite being over-the-top, this film features a brand of love that feels somewhat intriguing and desirable especially when we don't get much of it in an urban cityscape where extreme infatuation is unheard of.

This is not an ordinary tale of love despite involving two very ordinary persons in an otherwise ordinary urban society. Living upbeat lifestyles that often produce frowning faces of woe, people are often shying away from one another with nobody taking initiatives to care and love. Matters are made worse if you're buried in your career.

Every man and woman for themselves.

Yet we see a miracle taking place in Forever, where Joey is head-over-heels madly in love with Gin right from the start of the film. Such deep infatuation seems to only be contested by screaming teenage girls idolising their favourite pop stars. When every possibility is deemed bleak by the average minds, Joey persists with so much self-confidence and positivity that gets us thinking that she's either out of her mind silly or courageously motivated in love.

Joey practices the right attitude towards something that may very well determine her lifetime happiness. Such a critical entity in life, who wouldn't be serious to go all out for it? Well ironically, not many of us do. When the person you fall for is already engaged to someone else and is a mere acquaintance, will you go against all adversity like how Joey did?

Besides being a great source of inspiration for others to follow when it comes to love pursuit, it is also a quirky source of entertainment in the right dosage. Credit goes to Joanna Dong for her larger than life expressions as Joey who commands great authority over the audience's attention span. We don't get to see much physical body movements as there's plenty of intimate portrait close-ups of the cast in the film to get you looking in abundance at their facial expressions (Joey's face is still burned in my mind as I pen this).

Dong's expressions were magically mesmerising.

Well known in the theatrical scene, Dong's articulation and voice quality is commendable as it instills more vibrance in her role. She sings in enchantment on top of speaking well, a great talent to watch for.

Photography by first feature cinematographer Gerald Stahlmann (on a Red system!) is well-lit as it should be in a positive romance genre. Despite turning dark towards the later half, it is still well-handled in terms of art direction to ensure that it doesn't go overboard to disrupt the lovey-dovey honeymoon sensation that the audience is feeling in sync with Joey.

On an interesting side note, I can't help but notice Joey's infatuation with the colour blue. Everything around her is blue, including her outfit and make-up. A great underlying hint of personality.

Forever is probably a personal baby to the Director as it comes across to most of us as daunting, different, and disturbing even. The brand of love she's campaigning here is insane, but it's what makes love so desirable and exciting to behold. A great experimental piece that doesn't leave much room for anticipation to fill, you'll have to decide if you will buy into Wee's fun idea of love that goes Forever.

I did.

8 out of 12 people found the following review useful:
Clearly not a good V-Day film to indulge in with your partner, 20 February 2011

Andy Lau and Gong Li are two of the most attractive and charismatic superstars of their age and it's a perfect dream match in this romance comedy. However the film itself fails terribly and is considered mediocre at best, putting such great cast potential to a pitiful waste. The best reward is a visual treat of two fabulous personalities trying to work chemistry on the big screen.

After walking out of the theatre from this film, a raging question enveloped me.

"How did two of the greatest Asian superstars agree to such a lacklustre film?"

Most of us will have to admit that it is such a pleasure to have them on the same big screen as it surely satisfies audience members of both genders and thus holding great opportunities to appeal towards a massive audience size. Whenever I see Andy Lau working his charms on a well-composed Gong Li, it makes me wonder why youthful couples are always featured where you only get sweet puppy love and none of the enriched personalities sported by these two timeless veterans.

Nevertheless, there is only that much these superstars can aid a bad film.

What Women Want follows Benny Chan's successful remake of Hollywood's "Cellular" in another Asian attempt at similar, this time of a romance comedy genre. However it is interesting to see the project being entrusted into someone who is inexperienced with bid budget productions, which proves to be fatal indeed.

Poorly scripted and handled, it is said that it retains a high level of adherence to the original. Possibly a source of creativity and flair deadlock as the filmmakers are merely trying to shadow an original without any new blood to improve or innovate.

Almost every scene is briefly tackled on screen and soon after fleets towards the next, causing the film to feel like a superficial work of neither style nor substance. The audience will find themselves trying hard to attach themselves to the cast as much as they love to (Lau and Li are simply hard to ignore).

As a romance comedy, there isn't any quality comedy in it unfortunately to compensate for the lack of good romance chemistry between both leads. Aside from the occasional whacky stint by Andy Lau who dresses up in feminine fashion in the first half of the film, dialogues were pretty much one-two liners that were shallow and uninspiring.

The best parts of the film can be easily gathered as follow:

1. Eye candy in the form of gorgeous Gong Li and charming Andy Lau. 2. Andy Lau sings.

If these two aspects do not appeal to you in any manner, feel free to skip this film that tries hard to know what women want and has seriously neglected what the audience wants.

This is clearly not a good Valentine's Day film to indulge in with your partner (It's an annual event and thus don't risk spoiling it for your other).

Black Swan (2010)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Stunning piece of art that strives for perfection, 20 February 2011

A grand masterpiece of film art by Darren Aronofsky that is highly empowered by visuals and sounds in synergy with a remarkable performance by Natalie Portman as the ballerina who seeks nothing but perfection in her pursuit of performance art. Likely to be disturbing in the second half with relentless boundary crossings between reality and illusions, it is nevertheless one of the best films of 2010.

In my opinion, this is a more of a fine piece of art rather than film. After all its subject of interest is of ballet and how a ballerina undergoes a dark venture in seek of perfection through severely distorted visuals of reality and illusions. "Black Swan" begins with a dream sequence and isn't afraid to continue dreaming for the rest of the film.

Aronofsky bravely pursued his dreams as an artistic filmmaker.

Dreams are supposed to be bright and positive, but not in here. "Black Swan" starts off with a highly-disciplined Nina who appears to be shiny and pristine and determined to be the Swan Queen, the leading protagonist of the new production Swan Lake. Never did Nina realise how demanding that role will be of her as it requires her to sport double contrasting identities as both the White and Black Swan.

Never will we expect anybody to achieve excellence in two or more fields, it applies here as well. Nina is trying for the almost impossible task of embodying both the Angel and Devil. The only way is to lose her own self and enter darkness.

Perhaps unknowingly, Natalie Portman does similar as Nina in this film and renders a near perfect performance as she has successfully entered the skins of the ballerina. Adding on to the element of conviction, Portman has been reportedly practicing ballet for 10 months prior to the film production in order to improve the feel of grace and competency in the performing art.

Such dedication attracts much admiration.

Darkness ensues in the form of nightmarish sequences that are pieced together by artful visuals captured by Matthew Libatique and dramatic score by Clint Mansell. Aronofsky threatens the audience's emotions by instilling unrest via effectively alternating between reality and illusions through the perspective of Nina as well as the amazing editing by Andrew Weisblum. Together, these grips you tightly without letting go and only to be compensated by the graceful ballet moves.

At some point, you're almost inside Nina's realm.

The question comes pouring to you upon the end of the credit roll: Is Nina's pursuit of perfection justified by her own passion or just a mere empty destination that she is coerced by those around her into reaching? You might like to take a step back and relate this to the current capitalist society of elitism, where everyone strives to be atop of others. Corporate ladders, Dean's lists, Power struggle, these are some of the tragedies that witness several resorting to everything in order to continue their ascend.

This is further probed by the egoistic Thomas who never cease to push his ballerinas to extremes in order to attain results, where his ego seems to have outweighed his passion for ballet (if any). He could very well just be building a platform to sleep with them, as suggested briefly in the film. Likewise, Lily is possibly an innocent nemesis that is self-generated by Nina's heightened fear of losing at her game.

The higher you climb, the more edgy you become of others in paranoia.

No matter how you see it, it is undeniable that Aronofsky is one of the greatest filmmaking artist in the industry and has produced yet another stunning piece of art that has pushed fellow cast and crew into striving for perfection. (The Singapore big screen release version is passed with cuts, a move that deems to dilute the film's endeavour of perfection pursuit.) As remarkably flawless it may appear to be, it is nevertheless a tad bit short of perfection.

For future improvement can only be possible with imperfection.

127 Hours (2010)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Nothing less of an inspirational cinematic experience, 20 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Technically and inspirationally, this film has all the flair in instilling great cinematic moments that are often undermined by several. It's a film about a man being trapped in a fixed location for a little over 5 days, this is where Director Danny Boyle shows you how it can be made into a watchable 90 minute film that is worth every single cent of your ticket purchase.

If you've seen how the film is made, you'd have known how much effort has been drafted into this production where a base camp is set in the middle of some wilderness and helicopters transport crew and equipment to and fro every shooting day. Cameras and their operators were set up with climbing ropes like mountaineers and one might say that this production could be one of the most demanding.

So is the story and experience of Aron Ralston.

Based upon the amazing true account of Ralston, this film is made in tribute to his courage to stand up against nature and allowing his will to live to outshine all adversary. Being trapped with a boulder pinning your right hand against the canyon walls inside the claustrophobic cracks of the Blue John Canyon isn't a situation that anyone will want to find themselves in.

James Franco makes a terrific acting career performance and is probably by far the best we've seen of him. 127 Hours will definitely become his pivotal point as it allowed him to break free from conventional roles and portrayed one of the best sides to him that deserves watching. It's great to see him getting nods, even though people are pinning hopes on Colin Firth to eventually win. In my opinion, his rendition of Aron Ralston was very realistic and made me feel for him during the course of the film, which is what acting is all about - realism within fiction.

Wait, it's more like achieving realism within realism.

If you are thinking how watchable a film is when it merely depicts a man trapped within the cracks of a canyon for 127 hours under the screening time of about 90 minutes, my suggestion here to you is this.

Just go watch it to immerse yourself in what is probably one of the best cinematic experience ever.

Boyle has yet again proved his flair in filmmaking and it's exactly what makes him one of the best in the industry. He's already proved himself countless times especially with his previous winner "Slumdog Millionaire" and who doesn't love it when it took everyone by storm during its year of release?

A visually stunning film that borrows from great editing and cinematography by Jon Harris and Anthony Dod Mantle/Enrique Chediak respectively. We see stylised treatment in the film with the occasional mesmerising landscapes of the canyons. Also not forgetting the original music by A.R. Rahman that made the entire 90 minutes so much more entertaining and enjoyable as a whole.

127 Hours is a film that gets you deeply involved even after your step out of the theatre, thinking (or rethinking) about your life and the wonders of it. Often we tend to feel that we are in control of our lives but life is never simplistic enough for anybody to fully hold a good grasp upon. Here we see a talented Ralston who is so confident and full of life (and of himself in some manner) that he has always thought that navigating though life's mysteries and wonders under the most risky situations would be the best after-dinner desserts he could possibly have.

That was before the element of nature came into play.

Under the power of nature, man is belittled to a tiny speck of existential form as seen here in 127 Hours. Drastic climatic conditions, lack of food and water supply, lack of sleep, claustrophobic location, and eerie silence during most parts of the days and nights. What keeps a man going here will be his determination and will to live and survive. We see him talking to his video camcorder most of the times, his only companion to converse with that is also probably what keeps him sane.

Ralston performs the unimaginable feat of severing his own right forearm, which is graphically portrayed in this film without ever showing much of him actually doing it through editing (it's a little gruesome in thought but if that's what bothering you, it's not a reason worth to skip this film). What's horrible rather, is the sound that we hear during the controversial scene, which brings one much closer to realism than the sight of it.

So it's a battle between nature, Ralston, and his will to live, and it's one that you shouldn't miss for any reason at all.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
An outstanding work of new genre!, 7 December 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Never seeming to feature a strong main story, this Taiwanese film almost finds itself tripping over the major rule of cinema. You will realise that the story of attraction actually resides within the well-established characters who are pleasurable to watch for the entire span of the film. All emotions evoked within the audience derive strangely from the wide range of silver screen personalities instead of the plot, a great example of genre defying work of talent.

There is this unspeakable quality to this film, a film that evokes so much emotions through all the well-written characters and yet it is handled (superbly) by Director Chung Mong-hong (who is recently awarded the Golden Horse Best Director for this film) in such a silent fashion in reminiscence of Ozu. Xiang is a silent protagonist by nature, as we later learn that it is the repression due to poor treatment he receives from most adults in his life. He chatters with a vast amount of pure (but often crude) naivety and curiosity only to adults whom he can open his heart to.

The privileged individuals are none other than the elderly school caretaker he befriends after his father's passing, and the similarly estranged twenty-odd boy "Big Gun" whose sharp tongue provides a great deal of casual hilarity for the audience. The caretaker is probably an ideal fatherly/grandfatherly figure to Xiang while Big Gun is possibly a dear elder brother to him. These two fill up the void in Xiang's pitiful life.

One scavenges through desolated residences for scrap items of value while the other instigates petty theft and a daylight robbery of school children. Although these two perform morally questionable activities to tide them by every single day, the main focus here is the kind intentions and pure hearts of these two that are well-received by Xiang as valuable lessons in life.

On a side note, Big Gun comes from a pitiful family background as well.

We then move on to the darker characters in Xiang's life ahead of him. Xiang's mother, an attractive bar hostess of her age, reappears to be in custody of his well-being after the death of his father, leading him to stay with her and his new step-father who disapproves of his presence.

We are introduced to an imaginary elder brother of Xiang here as he often appears in his dreams ever since moving in with his mother. This person truly exists albeit missing for several years after his mother moved from Mainland China to Taiwan. We soon get to learn about the shortcomings of this new family where the (ex-convict) mother views marriage as a mere convenience in achieving a better life while the step-father sports lurking violent behaviours underneath his obnoxious facade. The lesser of evils will be Xiang's mother who is incapable of caring for him despite having the desire to as she tries hard to make ends meet.

Xiang is a silent character in front of these two who doesn't care much about him.

As mentioned prior, this film essentially has no serious story going on. It is not about the destination but the process. The enticing factor comes from the character interactions that revolve around Xiang, where dialogues are always a pleasant surprise as they are seldom heard elsewhere and unpredictable. Aided by excellent screen writing the characters are very much alive in the audience's mind, be it the benign or malicious ones.

Often silent and aloft, the camera work is designed in such a way that it allows us to feel as if we are watching the on screen development as an observing third party, almost like a spirit's perspective. Perhaps the audience is purposely casted as the ghost of Xiang's imaginary elder brother, as it is most noticeable in a specific self-confessional scene where the stepfather reveals certain dark secrets of the past.

Of course, this is just my view based on a wild imagination.

If you are wondering how the film gets its title, you will know that it is better to unravel this mystery by watching it. All I can say is, every portrait depicts an individual (or part thereof) who matters in Xiang's life, one where he pursues and discovers both a lost childhood and coming-of-age maturity through an array of personalities around him.

An outstanding work of genre-experimentation by the talented Chung Mong-Hong, one to watch for.

Let Me In (2010/I)
7 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Religious remake of the Swedish sensation "Let The Right One In", 6 December 2010

Religious remake of the Swedish sensation "Let The Right One In" follows the original so closely that it is more likely for mainstream English speaking audience who is new to the story. A couple of minor notches below the standard set by the original, nevertheless this will be a new (and much better) genre rendition to try out for those who thought The Twilight Saga is the only romantic vampire genre around.

Director Matt Reeves has paid faithful homage to Tomas Alfredson's version not because he had a lack of creativity, but simply because this remake is meant to reach out to a wider audience who've yet to see it in order to spread the love. Hopefully with an English speaking cast and language, it will be widely appreciated by more people with the mass distribution of the film.

That said, we shouldn't really criticise Reeves' take for the homage effort.

Given a choice, I believe the film-makers will want to produce unique works of their own. While the fans of the Swedish original may be ranting on how the US version is trying to regurgitate and ruin the reputation that the original upheld with somewhat less subtlety and slightly commercialised elements, we need to remember that they are experiencing these sentiments because they've already seen the original.

What first time audience will need is a fair and just objective opinion of the film instead of negatively-charged subjectivity.

Following the success of the original, the film tackles the disturbing issue of the state of our younger ones in the society who are facing danger when left alone without care. Broken families and adult neglect often lead to these youth finding no one to go to for resolving woes. Under repression without guidance, some begin to harbour twisted intentions and often end up sporting vicious violence as Owen is seen wielding a kitchen knife in front of his dressing mirror mimicking demeaning taunts of his school bullies.

"Are you scared, little girl?"

Owen suffers from severe bullying by three boys in his school, which is escalated to a heavier dosage than the original to stir more raging sentiments within the audience. Reeves also offers a great opening that works to get the audience unsettled with an urgent ambulance scene and a nerve-teasing hospital ward flashback. Just for these, I tend to feel that more is more as it induces a higher level of emotions.

Otherwise, less should be more as in the original.

Music and sound are a tad bit overly handled as the upbeat nature of the audio reduces the subtlety feel that is a trademark of the original. Visuals also took on a punchier style with more blatant blood attacks achieved via CG animation. With these, it allows the remake to feel brisker in pace to get the heart pumping a little.

Chilling subtle horror amidst warm tender love.

Owen is a 12 year old boy who is left alone by the adults in his life, his mother is an alcoholic Catholic settling a divorce with his father while the teachers in school often do not go beyond their line of duty and mind their own business outside academic syllabus. With such, he is often spotted sitting in the playground within his residential courtyard silently singing peculiar tunes that go:

"Eat some now, save some for later"

Abby is a blood thirsty "thing" who has been 12 years old for ages, it is also unsure if Abby is a boy as highlighted in the original that has been left out in this remake. Abby also verbally repeats in the film that she is not a girl. In the novel, there's a brief flash-back mention of the possibility of Abby being a boy who's been castrated by a vampire a long time ago. Since Reeves' version has chosen to leave the question of Abby's gender out to keep affairs simple by implying instead that she is not a girl (not human) but a vampire, let's not dwell astray.

Moretz and Smit-McPhee's performance has been wonderful in this film, not to forget Richard Jenkins' great role rendition as Abby's "guardian" who stumbles every time he hunts for blood to feed Abby. His position as an elderly guardian will be challenged during the later part of the film to instill a surprising and satisfying twist to those who're unfamiliar with the story (so no spoilers).

An artful portrayal of a chilling romance story between a vampire and a mortal boy, this brings the new genre that used to be dominated by Edward and Bella to a whole new level. That said, you'll not want to miss the Swedish original after watching this remake.

Maybe it is a better routine to watch the remake and then the original.

6 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
Eustace and Reepicheep took centre stage instead, 5 December 2010

Possibly the least satisfying film of the three in the series as the story (or direction rather) goes into fantasy (illogical) mode, leaving most of the adults questioning its purpose. Although intending to complete the series with an extra feature by entering into the third dimension, the film didn't seem to have much need for it. Less the muddling direction and lacklustre 3D effects, the film scores on other aesthetic aspects.

Affairs get hasty in returning Edmund and Lucy back to Narnia with their cousin Eustace (resembling the pronunciation of 'useless') this time. You know right from the start that either a spectacular Narnian adventure lies ahead or sloppy screen writing gets in the way of proper plot development.

Unfortunately, it's the later.

It's interesting to hear what Edmund actually said in the film after the party has been picked up by Prince Caspian and his vessel in the open sea. "If there's no wars to fight, then why are we here in Narnia?". I cannot agree more in wholesome with Edmund as he couldn't have better summarised the entire film.

It is true that there is no longer the epic battle scenes that have inspired the previous two installments, but it is also true that you don't need battlefield action in order to make a good story. What Director Michael Apted (of 'The World Is Not Enough' fame) did was to get them shuttling between random islands in quick succession as they hurry around to find seven ancient swords of old Narnian Lords in order to undo the evil that has plagued the seas.

I didn't just express the film's synopsis as that is all there is to the entire film, which is why I'm really puzzled that the screenwriters did not develop more details within the major plot pieces. Adding on to the mountain of woes, several plot elements go unelaborated to leave the audience (especially those who have yet to read C.S. Lewis' novel that the film is based upon) in serious disarray.

There are nevertheless some delights to watch for, such as the courageous talking mouse Reepicheep who seems to have grown wiser and less hysterical as in the previous film. Albeit a tiny creature, he's a positive mind who never fails to inspire others around even during the darkest moments. This makes him my favourite character who earns my respect as Reepicheep definitely makes a stellar role model for children.

Eustace adds most of the comic relief and spices up the silver screen with his friendship forged with Reepicheep during the adventure. With a quirky demeanour of an intelligent scholar who is often cynic and snobbish, Poulter pulls his role off incredibly well with his own flavour.

In all, this makes a proper closure to The Chronicles of Narnia series in an unsatisfying fashion that nevertheless boasts great visual effects and fantasy adventure fare for the boring weekends.

Not a must to catch this in 3D, according to my humble opinion.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Challenging the stereotypical values of film genre and society, 4 December 2010

Budget productions do not necessarily translate into inferiority as Director Han Yew Kwang's latest local feature film brings heartland laughter via a unique norm opposing romance comedy offering. Featuring intrinsic details of the Singaporean life through the eyes of the Hainanese female and Teochew male leads, it brings forth certain blatant truth in our lives beyond the entertaining facade of comedy.

Hainan-boy is essentially a lady physiologically who crosses path with Ms. Teochew, likewise in a male body state. Having these two unconventional characters in our conservative society meet to explore the idea of companionship and romance is another giant step out of the norm (Han mentioned that both the main cast felt the possibility of such is a mere 1%).

They met through a series of fateful events that revolves around an item that typically conveys extreme sensitivity in our community - a woman's brassiere. It is the one undergarment item that is unique to the female anatomy, also one that complexly connects both genders ever since its invention. Because of its symbolism, it makes an appropriate medium of plot element.

The brassiere's intentions are truly beneficial to the changing roles of women in the society, allowing them more flexibility and a sense of security. Due to the integrity of what it's protecting, it is often considered a taboo for a male to be spotted with one, regardless of what he's doing with it.

So here we are, having the limited perception of the society applying derived restrictions in the forms of rules of interaction and behaviour within our community. If the sight of a manly lady and a feminine man is considered a form of disgust in today's context (and to think that most people around me claim to say that we are a liberal-minded bunch when they can't even accept a woman sporting short cropped hair), it is even more likely that most will distant themselves several yards even before the idea of the two in a relationship reaches them.

Challenging the stereotypical casting of gorgeous looking actors in a rom-com genre, this film ventures in opposite directions with average looking ones to test our perceptive acceptance.

Bearing high resemblance to our daily lives as Singaporeans, there is the element of cultural heritage conveyed through both dialect groups. It is said that Hainanese men make good husbands and Teochew ladies can be counted upon for their beauty. By having both main leads attributed with these two dialect identities, they do not only embody the concept of revolting against perceived gender demeanour prejudice but also the promotion of cultural heritage values that seem to be on the decline of recent.

More often than not, when both of them interact with each other, it feels like a cultural exchange. This is especially noted in a scene between Ms. Teochew, Hainan-boy and her ex- girlfriend Meihui (Yeo Yann Yann) where they share Hainanese and Teochew folklore sayings passed down from past generations only to be casually dismissed by the younger Meihui who represents the current generation. This is a disturbing trait of today's youth and it is debatable if such traditional heritage should be cultivated and retained within them.

Fun-filled with hilarity and credible cast performance, the two main characters eventually grew within me with such natural presence in comfort. This is the result of employing non- professionals to act their true selves on a project where they've also contributed a significant amount of details and ideas (construction of certain scenes). Besides the main leads, Yeo Yann Yann (with her high energy burst of vibrant youth) and Alaric Tay make great supporting cast with their performance to enhance the film in synergy.

It is really inspiring to see what independent film-makers in Singapore can achieve despite having budgeted financial and resource constraints. Shot on Canon 5D mkII and limited set locations (the residential flats are the casts' own), it is really comforting for budding film- makers to know that as long as you have the passion for film-making, just have your heart set and see it through. Director Han mentioned that an initial estimate of 9 days of production eventually escalated into over half a year, I guess this is largely due to the "part-time" nature of the project that is well-understandable.

With that, do enjoy 81 minutes of unconventional romantic comedy delight.

4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Fun-filled culture exchange makes for good film material, 1 December 2010

A rarity these days for film-makers to be proficient in varying genres. Director of acclaimed horror films "Shutter" and "Alone" carves a niche in his first romance comedy showcase that is very much fun and laughter inducing. Fans of Korean pop culture and TV dramas will not want to miss this.

Frankly speaking, upon knowing that Director Banjong Pisanthanakun (of Shutter and Alone fame) is doing a romance comedy, I'm really not that surprised. In fact I held high hopes as I've seen what he's capable of with his comedy-horror film segments in "4bia" and its sequel "Phobia 2". With a very good mix of humour and spooks for these two short films, he finally ventures away from horror for the first time with good results.

Capitalising upon his good comic sense of humour, he has written some very engaging screenplay together with his male lead Dhanasevi, which probably explains why he seems so natural in his wonderful role performance as the irritating cynic who meets a pure-hearted homely girl crazy over Korean dramas in South Korea.

Besides the hilarious and sparkling presence of Dhanasevi, new face Sophon (a.k.a NooNa) earns a great first feature grade for her film resume. Appearing blissful and bubbly while maintaining a girl-next-door image that appeals to the boys out there, she is one mesmerising newcomer to watch out for. When it comes to the sentimental scenes where she has to get wet in tears, she pulls it off like a seasoned natural (possibly with an acting coach as credited in the film).

Likely to be a reflection of the current Korean television drama craze that has overwhelmed Asian countries like Thailand, it sets off to be some sort of a Korean drama spoof attempting to poke fun at it through the cynicism of Dhanasevi. When paired with Korean drama lover NooNa, their interactions give rise to an influential synergetic ensemble that easily captivates our hearts. Thanks to some really interesting writing, this film is filled with several comical scenes that got us blatantly laughing out loud.

It's really all about the fun we enjoy from them.

Of course, what's a rom-com without the soppy melodrama? Unnecessarily long to cause a minor draggy feel, this is where we discover the Director's limitations of inexperience with romance. However, the romance plot elements somewhat reflect scenarios that are often common of couples in real life. Their development gets me nodding in agreement at times as I can totally relate couples around me to them, a credit that I have to give Pisanthanakun for.

Standing amidst the extensive humour, fun, and melodrama, one gets truly influenced to hold desires to visit South Korea with a prominent feature of South Korean culture and her scenic urban cityscape and snowscape.

Fun-filled culture exchange makes for good film material.

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