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Prisoners (2013)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Full of suspense, emotions and drama! Best movie in 2013 to date., 30 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Prisoners is a gritty, incredibly well-acted, suspenseful, thought- provoking crime drama thriller. Unlike Taken or Man On Fire, Prisoners is full of emotions as a family is put through its darkest hours. The suspense never lets up. Throughout the film you feel Dover's pain, anger and moral struggles as he deals with this situation.

The director does a brilliant job keeping the audiences deep into the emotions of the family despite the fact that Dover himself kidnap Alex Jones, locks him up for days and brutally tortures him just to know the whereabouts of his daughter. This movie explores the issue of moral ambiguity, and it shows just how far desperation can change a loving father into a cruel, heartless person just to protect his own family. With his daughter's chance of survival diminishing each seconds, is Dover's action justified? That's a question for you to ponder.

The two leads, Hugh Jackman and Jack Gyllenhaal give the career best performance in my opinion. Jackman tears into scenes in a way we've never seen him and layers his character with plenty of affection, empathy, grief, and rage. It's his best dramatic endeavor he's ever done. As Detective Loki, Gyllenhaal stands firm and tall in one of the year's finest performances. Terrifically executed as a man disconnected from real emotion, he finds himself enamored by the mystery surrounding two missing girls. But the most surprising performance comes from Paul Dano. His character, Alex Jones was mentally-challenged, and has an IQ of that 10-year-old kid. This is a difficult character to play, but Paul manages to make that character his own by his superb portrayal of Alex.

The plot is a wonderful puzzle, unraveling slowly to reveal hidden layers of depth and complexity. At 153 minutes, the film is detailed, precise, and engaging nearly throughout. With a mix of top-notch cinematography, remarkably unsettling music, superb performances, and a thrilling/powerful story, Prisoners will definitely be one of this year's features that will surely be remembered.

Final Verdict: 8.5/10. If you love films that explore more than just entertainment, such as important themes and moral ambiguity as a whole, you cannot go wrong with Prisoners. I would not recommend skipping out on Prisoners unless you're of the type that prefers more lighthearted and fun movies.

5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Not the funniest, but fun nonetheless., 24 September 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Plot Summary: Two salesmen, who have been out of job and whose careers have been at risk thanks to the evolving digital age, find light at the end of the tunnel for a shot of employment at Google. What's the catch? They have to compete with hundreds of young, tech-savvy, genius geek in a summer internship program at Googleplex.

Review: With Google and Googleplex at the core of this movie, you can expect a lot of product advertisement here and there. Everything was super colourful, high-tech and awesome! I do not know how true some of the facilities at the Google Headquarters are (sleeping pod, free-for- all cafeteria etc.), but they do make everyone believes that Google is the best place to work in the entire world!

Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson portrayed the old-school, tech illiterate salesmen Billy and Nick pretty convincing here. Their combination was as good (if not better) as their previous movie, Wedding Crashers. The supporting actors/actresses, Josh Brenner, Dylan O'Brien, Tiya Sircar and Tobit Raphael also slot in excellently as team members with both Billy and Nick. Max Minghella who played as the irritating rival to Billy and Nick could do better hadn't he overused his British accent annoyingly. Rose Bryne, who acts as the romantic partner for Nick, was underutilized, and so is Aasif Mandvi as the Head of Internship Program.

However, the most surprising part is the storyline. This movie is about unlikely relationships, current job struggles, coming-of-age issues, and generation differences. Yes, an internship is involved, but there is more to this movie than the title presents. I loved the relationships between Vaughn and Wilson and their team of college students; I felt the characters were relatable and presented realistic problems.

In conclusion, this is not the funniest movie around. If you dislike the fast-talking, witty humor of Vaughn paired with Wilson, this may not be the movie for you. They even quote a lot of vague 80's reference which young generation won't be able to relate to. However, having said that, The Internship is still a fun movie to watch, because it does not only give you humor, but also feed you with friendship values, the importance of teamwork, managing differences and other bit and pieces along the way.

Final Verdict: 6.5/10. Not the funniest movie around, but fun nonetheless. Highly recommended if you want to take a sneak peak at Googleplex and some of its cool features, and if you love Vaughn-Wilson combination.

Iron Man 3 (2013)
5 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
Disappointing. Could have been better., 2 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I love Iron Man series. I love Tony Stark's antiques. And because of that, I am going to be harsh for its review. In my personal view, this movie falls below average for Iron Man series. I know the director is not the same as before, but Jon Favreau is the executive director (and also acted as Happy Hogan). He should not let Shane Black downgrade Iron Man 3 below the standards he set for the previous movie.

Don't get me wrong. The movie is still visually stunning, the music score is still great and RDJ is still awesome as he can be. But the story left something to be desired. I'm not following Iron Man comics, but I know for a fact that The Mandarin is one of Marvel's greatest villain. He is supposed to be Iron Man's living antithesis, like how The Joker is to Batman. But in this movie, The Mandarin was ridiculed so bad it is there in the movie just to become a joke. The Mandarin is a junkie? A theater actor? Please… In the comic, he has these ten magical rings he got from a crashed alien space craft! And by the way, Aldrich Killian is NOT The Mandarin.

Speaking of Aldrich Killian, Guy Pearce played his character brilliantly. Whether his portrayal of the crippled Killian in 1999 or his new sinister personality, he did the job convincingly. Although I hate how the movie portrayed Mandarin, Ben Kingsley acting is superb. He literally acted two different characters; one as the terrifying Mandarin, another as the drug addict, stupid, actor of Mandarin. Just look at how he changed his personality, his tone, his body language. Superb. RDJ did his usual best being Tony Stark, although he is more serious this time, following the direction of the movie. Gwyneth Paltrow and Don Cheadle get less air time, but that's their role, as supporting actors.

The movie tries to set a darker tone to Iron Man series, and its focus is to show that Tony Stark is still Iron Man even without his armor. It attempts to display that Tony Stark, although weak without his suit, still can save the world. It also wants the audience to see that Stark is a changed man now; more responsible and dependable unlike his previous character (womanizer, irresponsible, immature). Clearly, the events of The Avengers has really traumatized him, that he now suffers panic attack, and obsessed to build so many automated Iron Man to protect his lover Pepper Pots. Do not be disappointed if you don't see much of Iron Man in action. However, the battle scene at the end of the movie is overloaded with Iron Men to make up for that.

Another disappointment is that, the Mk-42 suits is completely useless. I know it is a prototype, but come on, you fight Loki and his aliens in The Avengers using Mk-7! Why Mk-42 so easy to go kaput? Which reminds me, the previous movie was so awesome because it showed Stark upgraded his armor (with the help of JARVIS) using his out of the world technology. In this movie, apart from the armor can break (easily) into parts and attached the Tony Stark's body, the Mk-42 is nothing compared to Mk-7.

Not to mention that he can ACTUALLY remove his reactor on his chest quite easily. I remember though in the previous movie, he could die if he tried to remove the reactor; in fact he said he is cursed by it. Fast forward to Iron Man 3, the reactor is removed in 5 seconds scene. To close the review, this movie should be named Tony Stark, instead of Iron Man. Really, Tony Stark has most of the air time compared to his suit.

Final Verdict: 6/10. Disappointing from Marvel. I won't stop you from watching it. It is still enjoyable to watch. It still has many actions to watch (albeit less from its predecessor). I just felt that this movie could be even better, if the plot is tidier than now. Lastly, do not watch in 3D. Waste of money. Not many scenes really stands out in 3D.

2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A powerful the word EPIC!, 2 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Summary: 6 different stories in different times intertwined beautifully with each other. Part history, part sci-fi, part love story, part comedy all transiting seamlessly in a 3-hours exhilarating journey through time. EPIC.

Plot: This movie has 6 different, loosely interconnected stories in it. Not only they are different, they are in different time frame as well! Well, here goes, in chronological order:

1. A tale of a lawyer's journey (Adam Ewing) of an ocean voyage across the Pacific in 1850s, which is recorded in his journal. He experienced the betrayal of his trusted doctor, and befriended a black slave who in turn save his life. His view of slavery was changed,and he vowed to stop slavery, even though he knew his effort would do little change to the mindset of his imperialist, colonial society. His journal was later published into a book.

2. Follows the tragically short life of a talented young composer (Robert Frobisher) who was in a forbidden homosexual relationship with his lover, Rufus Sixmith, student of Cambridge in the 1930s. He was heavily influenced by Ewing's journal while composing his masterpiece Cloud Atlas Sextet. However, his aging employee, a composer himself, forced Frobisher into surrendering Cloud Atlas to him, threatening to expose his sexual orientation to the public. Hi accidentally injured the man, and ran away. Realizing his life is ruined, he committed suicide after completing Cloud Atlas composition.

3. Set in 1970's, Rufus Sixmith, a renowned physicist now, met Luisa Rey, a journalist. He attempted to reveal a conspiracy about a nuclear plant to her before he was murdered. Luisa investigated the case and found herself in danger of being murdered too the closer she gets to the truth. In her investigation, she found letters written by Frobisher to Sixmith in the 1930s and a report of the nuclear plant. She finally uncovered the truth and wrote the article about the conspiracy.

4. This is set in modern days (2012). Timothy Cavendish was blackmailed for money by a group of thugs after he received a handsome royalty from his published book. He sought his brother help, who put him (without him knowing) to an old folk's home, with no way to get out. Residents were treated as prisoners, and each attempt to get out was stopped by the staff. He managed to "jailbreak" with the help of his elderly friends. He found his time there as an adventure worth to be told. Later he wrote about his experience, which was made into a movie ("The Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish") much later in time.

5. Follows the story of Sonmi-451, a clone-bred "server" who works at a restaurant in Neo Seoul, Korea in a distant future. Her life was routine; everyday she serves food to the "consumers". However,inspired by "The Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish" she began to question her existence as a clone to the world, and the injustice and cruelty her kind suffered. She finally led the revolution to the oppressing government, broadcasting her preach and philosophy about life to the world.

6. The final story is set in a post-apocalyptic world, 100 years after The Fall (Neo Seoul was drowned by the rising sea level). It follows Zachry, who lived with his tribes in The Valley, worshipping Sonmi-451, believing her to be god and holy. Meronym from a more advanced society called the Prescients sought help from Zachry to guide her to a broadcast station believed to be on top of a mountain. Once there, she showed the truth about Sonmi, making Zachry questioning his faith. She also explained that she intended to use the broadcast station to find another place to live in, as there's no place on Earth to live anymore.

The movie was heavy. It is "densed" with a lot of message. The themes in the movie are many. The most notable ones are freedom, oppression, injustice and love. More importantly, it wants to show you how each actions and decisions in the past can affect the future. It is not easy to fit 6 different stories in a 3-hour movie (yes it's that long!) However, the transitions between each era are seamless. You can see 6 different times changing back and forth with each other as the story progress, yet different they may come, it is easily recognized, and the transitions are cleverly done. The comical modern day story of Timothy Cavendish really lift up the mood, and help"lightening" the movie a bit. The graphic is stunning. That is to be expected from the Wachowskis. Kudos to the directors.

The castings are all Oscar materials. Seriously, the casts play different roles in different timeframes. You will see Tom Hanks as the evil doctor in one scene, as a corrupt hotel owner in another, as a righteous physicist in another timeframe, and as a confused tribesman in the far future. That acting alone deserves an Oscar! Halle Berry did great with her multiple roles as well, and so does Hugo Weaving (impressive in his Old Georgie evil god role) and many others I'm not able to list here. What's more impressive is their make up for each character. Believe me, you won't recognize Halle Berry playing as wife of the old composer, or Hugo Weaving as Nurse Noakes. Watch the credit. You'll be surprised.

Final Verdict: 8.8/10. Impressive. This movie re-define the word EPIC. Definitely Oscar nominee for this year. Be warned, this movie is not everyone cup of tea. If you can't stand watching a 3 hours movie which will get you confused during and after the show, do not watch this movie. If you are easily bored , do not watch this movie. If you do watch it, don't try to understand the movie. Figure it out afterwards.

You have been warned.

7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
A great adaptation of Jack and the Beanstalk, 2 March 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Plot: The plot is as simple as it can be; it stay mostly true to the original fairy tale. A farmer boy (Jack) got his hands on magical beans, and one of them fell on the ground beneath his wooden house. A beautiful yet adventurous princess (Isabelle) took shelter at his home when the bean grew into a giant beanstalk, bringing the princess (and his house) up to the kingdom of giants. Now, it is up for Jack to save Isabelle (and subsequently the human nation on the ground) from the ruthless, mad, human-eating Giants who have hold their revenge against human for centuries...

Review: As I said before, the plot is very simple. Yet, the fact that the storyline is simple and uncomplicated makes the movie very enjoyable to watch. The director clearly focus on entertaining the crowd with good humor and charm, and thrill the crowd with fast-paced action which never gets boring. Well done to the director Bryan Singer.

The castings are a bit surprising. Using mainly British actors, only Ewan McGregor and Stanley Tucci are the actors that I can recognized. However, the lead character, Jack (Nicholas Hoult) gave an plausible acting in the movie. He did a good job as a likable and humble farmer boy. Though to be fair, his character is rather simple. Isabelle, played by Eleanor Tomlinson, is a princess who is adventurous and wants some independence from his boring royal life. Jack & Isabelle (hmmm...Jacob & Isabella from twilight..coincidence?) is perfect for each other,and bring a jolly and cheerful feel to the audience. General Elmont, played by McGregor, stands out with his charm and comedy. The choice of Trucci as Roderick, the human villain is somewhat refreshing, as he played a comedic evil guy who is very easy to hate. All in all, the castings played a good job in their role, as what was to be expected from their simple, straightforward character.

The cinematic in the movie was stunning. The giants were rendered in detail. And there were many of them. Some of the scenes can be gory (giants torturing human, eating their heads out, stomping on them like bugs etc). The effect of the beans grow to their gigantic size was epic. Well, this is a big budget movie after all.

In conclusion, this movie is fun to watch, whether with friends or family. There are many funny moments, beautifully rendered scenes, and there's the love line of a farmer boy and a princess. And they live happily ever after. What more do you want? This is a fairy tale after all.

Final Verdict: 6.8/10. A light-hearted movie, suitable for all. Recommended.

Taken 2 (2012)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Good, but cannot outperform the first movie, 26 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Just watched Taken 2. Overall, it was a fast paced action movie again! Liam Neeson acting was again superb as the CIA retiree Bryan Mills. Maggie Grace as Kim the daughter plays significant role in the movie, while Famkee Jansen as her ex-wife is fantastic. The movie has enough action and suspense to keep you on the edge of the seat. The ending was satisfying enough. The minus points are, unlike its predecessor, the total body count is significantly fewer, and the kidnapping is way too easy, Mills does not have to crack his head to find his kidnapper like in the first movie. But rest assured, Mills has plenty of cards up his sleeve to keep you amazed till the end.

Final Verdict: 8/10. The movie is great, but it (in my opinion) cannot surpass the level the first movie has set. A must see.

Stolen (2012)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Just average, 26 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Watched Stolen today. Finally! A decent movie by Nicholas Cage. After recent craps like Drive Angry, Season of the Witch, Knowing and The Sorcerer's Apprentice, this is the kind of movie that suits him best; action movie. However, the plot is predictable, the premise has nothing new to show, and nothing really stand out from the movie. A few funny moments here and there in the movie was refreshing. Nevertheless, a decent movie and a decent performance by Cage. Don't set a high expectation, ignore the logic of the storyline, and you will enjoy the movie.

Final Verdict: 6/10. Up to you.

Sinister (2012/I)
0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
This is a very sinister movie!, 26 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From the producer of Paranormal Activity & Insidious, comes Sinister. True to its name, the movie is a very good horror movie, it's almost....sinister.

Plot: In short, the movie is about a true-crime-novelist, Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) who moved to his new home with his wife and two kids to write his new book about the gruesome murder that happen in the neighborhood. The only problem was, the murder actually happened in the house, but he hid this fact from his family. From his investigation, he found that the murder was actually connected to several murder cases from the past. As he tries to unravel the terrifying mystery behind the murders, strange things started to happen in his house-something not from this world...Soon, he realized that he and his family were in danger to becoming the next victim...

Review: This is the 3rd horror movie I watched in cinema this year (previously watched Cabin in the Woods and The Possession), but it easily becomes the best horror movie this year! This movie has enough fear and suspense (plus several jump scare scene) to keep you biting your nails and watched the movie between your fingers.

Ethan Hawke's performance as an obsessed writer but a loving husband and father is very believable, and he especially shined in the scene where he is stressed out. The story is intriguing and always moving. The difference between Sinister and other Hollywood horror movies is that, the director focuses on the plot development as much as he does in scaring the viewer. Sinister has a nice blend of family drama, paranormal, horror and myth. It also contains some of the most gruesome murder I've seen, although nothing too graphic is shown. The best part is, this movie is never too cliché as most horror movies are; it never cheats you, it tries to be real as best as it could, and the movie is twisted and very disturbing, especially the ending, where the mystery is finally revealed. Some may not like the ending, but for me, that is the best and will most probably happened if the movie actually real life.

As an avid horror movie fan, I could safely say that this is the best horror movie this year, heck, make it in a decade! Mainstream movie- goers might not like the movie, but for horror fan, this is the movie for you.

Final Verdict: 10/10 for horror movie fan, 7/10 for others. Please do not watch the movie if you have heart disease, are a pregnant lady or you are just damn sissy.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Disappointed, 26 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In conclusion, Paranormal Activity 4 is just a repetition from previous movies. It happen in a house, same jump scare (although it is much lesser than before. I guess they used up all the scare, and now they don't want to be seen as repeating previous scare), and the mystery is still unsolved (brace yourself for Paranormal Activity 5). The movie sometimes dragged itself too much.So many pointless scenes being showed to you. The only thing that save the movie is Alex (Kathryn Newton), whom I found her acting very natural, not too mention her pretty, sweet, innocent face which looks surprisingly good in front of a close-up camera. And she's only 15! (Am I a pedobear now? *sigh*)

Final Verdict: 5/10. Disappointed. It could not reach the same height the previous movies set. Not scary enough. Don't bother go to the cinema to watch it.

22 out of 41 people found the following review useful:
For Silent Hill game fans, this is worth checking out., 26 October 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

****SPOILER ALERT*******

Plot: The story is a direct sequel from the first movie. Heather/Sharon (Adelaide Clemens) and her father Harry (Sean Bean) are on the run from a cult group that wants his adopted child back to the Silent Hill, though Heather does not fully understand the reason behind any of this. But when her father is taken by the group, she is determined to come to Silent Hill to save him and learn the truth about herself, the group, the town and the nightmare that has been haunting her for so long...

Review: As a fan of the Silent Hill game series, I found that the attempt of the director to stay true to the game plot admirable. Sure, it is a headache to balance between the game fan expectation and the commercial element of the movie. So, the story of the movie goes slightly off from the game. However, I understand the difficulty to cramp a 10-hour game into a 1.5-hour movie; changes need to be made to the movie's storyline. But rest assured, the director has made many references to Silent Hill game in the movie, (game fan will notice this starting from the beginning of the movie itself!) and I as a game fan appreciate that. I am pretty sure the director is also a fan of the game series himself!

Gamefan view aside, the movie itself is generally good. The graphic of the movie, especially during transition from the "reality" to the "nightmare" world is stunning. Not too mention the ashes effect in the foggy world. Although I did not watched the movie in 3D, i am pretty sure it would look good in 3D. In fact, the movie itself was done in 3D, than later converted to 2D. It also has many scary moments, disturbing image, gruesome killing and horrible monster.. Should be interesting to watch them in 3D!

Storywise, this movie is actually quite complicated and heavy. This is to be expected from a game-to-movie genre. If you never played the game, you will be very confused with the storyline. Even myself who played all the game series (aside from the latest one) still do not understand the game fully. However, the director try to solve this by having Heather read a book her father wrote about Silent Hill. A good attempt to simplify the back story, but otherwise failed to clear the confusion.

Adelaide Clemens has done a fantastic job in bringing the main character Heather. She was the central character of the movie. The director did a good job in casting her, as she looks surprisingly similar with the game character! However, there is not much development with the other characters. Alessa, who is a very important character in the game version, has surprisingly limited role. It is fair to say that Heather aside, the other characters has no development at all. Silent Hill game fan will be disappointed by this.

In conclusion, the movie itself is good, but like many game-to-movie genre, it suffers the same problem: it still fails to balance between staying-true-to-the game-plot and change-the-plot-so-it-fits-into-a- movie. Silent Hill hardcore gamers will most probably find the movie adequately satisfying, but personally, I think the movie did a fine job to follow the game storyline. For the non-gamer viewers, this movie is good, but can be quite heavy and complex.

Final Verdict: 6.5/10 for the non-gamer viewers, as it is hard for me to imagine them not having questions/confusions or even half-asleep when they come out of the cinema.

To Silent Hill game fans, 7.5/10 for you. Check this movie out, see if you like it. I do.