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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
Not as bad as what critics say, at least this reboot of four legendary turtles deliver a fun ride
Far from the word "perfect" but not that horrible either, this reboot of 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle' is actually beyond my expectation and it quite works to at least entertain. I personally wasn't expecting much before seeing these because of some negative reviews from most critics but I must admit I enjoy myself during seeing it. What probably goes wrong with the film is some illogical issues and some minor mistakes like how could Splinter easily learn fighting skills. But of course the real problem was addressed to April O'Neil itself as main protagonist who seems uninteresting to follow and sometimes felt dull, also the chosen of Megan Fox to play the character has aggravated this condition. Her acting doesn't fit with the role that makes every time she appears just forgettable.
Thankfully, that whole flaws and messes could be covered by four adorable ninja turtles. The way it gives attention to turtles' character is well-organized, it shows each character has their own personality and leaves them same portion to shine. Though 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' won't be memorable compared with some blockbuster films this year and the ending isn't special either, it's still just wildly fun to watch Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello and Michaelangelo in action also assisted with stunning visual effects for the turtles, some smart jokes and quite cool action sequences makes all the mistakes seem forgiven.
The Babadook (2014)
Beware of the Babadook
Original and truly terrifying, "The Babadook" proves what a horror-fiction movie could do with involving more on psychological emotion from it's protagonist character rather than shocking audience with ghost appearances. It has totally different ways to scare compared with James Wan's "The Conjuring" or "Insidious". The movie focused on Babadook, a scary creature from children's tale but even The Babadook appearance itself wasn't much exploited and seems too mysterious. The débutant director, Jennifer Kent has successfully and smartly convinced also planted images of Babadook character at audience's mind without much showing what it really looks like and keep them guessing at the ending part. Babadook only appears couple times at shadow, sounds or some hallucinations.
What definitely makes this film that scary is a standout performance from Essie Davis. Her acting as Amelia greatly portrays a destroyed and depressed mother who have unwell circumstances to raise her only son. At first half of the film, audiences were dragged to feel the stressful condition and sympathy to Amelia but she with her gesture and changed behavior would surely scare them when it reaches last 20 minutes. "The Babadook" is a respectful and undeniably creepy old-school horror movie that is rarely to find these days. With also supported by strong performances from Essie Davis, spooky suggestive premise and surrounded by annoying score, makes Babadook easier to sneak in your midnight sleep and haunt you as worst nightmare.
Into the Storm (2014)
A truly disaster
Not quite sure the main purpose on making this film, "Into the Storm" is pretty much a disaster film-making about disaster. Except fine special effects of the Tornado which has been a selling product from this movie, all aspect inside it felt abandoned and flawed. "Into the Storm" suffers with amateur written script, horrible acting, predictable yet uninteresting storyline and some boring moments. The movie just fails to build chaotic situation and destructions that is quite important for kind of genre. Also adding some clumsy, dramatized and instant moments that makes it sometimes dull, like the awkward scene at church and the scene when Donnie and Kaitlyn were trapped, shouldn't they find a way to escape rather than filming 25 year capsule video?
Steven Quale as director seems confuse on rather making it with hand-held video camera like "Cloverfield" and "Chronicle" did or shoot at direct way that makes this movie lost it's own style to impress. Overall, "Into the Storm" is an awful disaster movie, watching these just makes Roland Emmerich's disaster movie such as "The Day After Tomorrow" and "2012" becomes "Godfather". It should be more appropriate to direct it straight to DVD than playing it at cinema.
Baby Mama (2008)
An entertaining lightweight comedy that is finely served by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler
What could possibly wrong it's gonna be when two wild and smart comedians, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler were paired in a film. "Baby Mama" is actually just a safe and lightweight drama-comedy but at least it's main purpose to entertain and deliver some laughs were finely accomplished. There's no doubt that chemistry between it's two leading actresses Tina Fey and Amy Poehler was the only factor to bring this movie some lives. Their performance determine how this film is going to be and make the two opposite personality from Kate Holbrook and Angie Ostrowiski enjoyable to watch. Some jokes and scenes in this movie are silly but funny at the same time like the dramatic scene when Angie is ready to be Kate's surrogate at hospital surrounded with romantic soundtrack at the background, so hilarious. However, "Baby Mama" couldn't take any risks from it's quite complex material that makes it not special and passable. Also how this movie solved the ending with win-win solution were rather disappointing than sweet and has more or less ruined premise they had built from the beginning.
Sap ji sang ciu (2012)
An action-adventure film has never been this frustrating
A total crap film from a martial art legend, Jackie Chan. "Chinese Zodiac" is predictable, frustrating, dramatized, unfunny, boring and pretentious action packed that shouldn't be produced at any chances. My thought during watching this disaster is when would this film over also feel regrets for not turning it off after about 30 minutes. The idea of this movie could be come from some Hollywood blockbuster film like "Mission Impossible", "Indiana Jones" and is that pirates, seriously? There are so many coincidences, disorganized plot, cheap yet unfunny line, non-sense action sequences and amateur acting from it's supporting casts. With holes everywhere and so many weaknesses spotted, it just turns my mood to see this and give no care of what happens to the relics or any bronzes which JC and his crews rescued. Even advanced gadgets the movie got or Jackie Chan itself couldn't save these. At the end, the best part of this horrible nightmare is how relieved I feel when the movie finally over, what a completely waste of time. Alongside with "The Spy Next Door", "Chinese Zodiac" couldn't be only just contenders for the worst Jackie Chan film ever made but also wounds action genre itself unless you're a Jackie Chan fan, I think you couldn't be hating this much as long as your idol appears on screen.
Short Term 12 (2013)
Surprisingly soulful and rich emotions
Not every year we find a film like this, "Short Term 12" is a rare independent drama that successfully exploits brilliant premise and limited production material into a powerful cinematic experience. It finely attach audiences sympathy with it's character study and every scenes in this movie has it's moment to capture many emotions that is required. Hilarious, anger, sad and warms was combined perfectly to fit it's limited running time. The main reason what wins it is a compelling yet honest script from Destin Daniel Cretton (who takes control as director too) that turns a simple story into a meaningful, soulful and heartwarming drama. Also the appearance of young casts in this movie couldn't be underestimated. The name like Kevin Hernandez, Keith Stanfield and Kaitlyn Dever got same portions to be a scene stealer also supports John Gallagher-Brie Larson to shine as leading actors. Especially for Brie Larson, she easily drags audiences attention with her performance as Grace, a kind-hearted woman who dedicated her life to help dangerous behavior kids though herself still struggles with her horrible and complex memory in the past. "Short Term 12" is an unexpected film that surprisingly have taken my heart and marks some impressions at my mind. It's not only just a good indie drama but also qualifies as one of the best movie in 2013.
Step Up All In (2014)
Stepping up into tiredness
The fifth installment of Step Up is back in "Step Up: All In" with introducing more inventive choreography from expert dancer crews and containing almost all-star member of the series (minus Channing Tatum of course) into a dance competition in L.A. The movie brings a first class and entertaining show that is wanted from their fans. All the dances and flash mob are taken beautifully that has already been a trademark from all the series and what differentiates it from other dance movie.
Unfortunately there's a contrary and unbalanced between dance and whole elements in this movie. "Step Up: All in" suffers with mediocre yet predictable storyline, horrible written script, forgettable chemistry and some average acting from it's entire casts. The movie focuses only on the Vortex competition and how their ambition and preparations to win this thing without care less about anything that would bring boring moments and reduce emotional feelings for the character itself. In other words, this film felt stunning when it related to massive movements with loud R&B soundtrack mixed but once it touches drama and storytelling stuff, it's just that awful. Overall, "Step Up: All In" isn't a game-changer of the series, in fact it's definitely just a similar movie from the previous franchise with this time L.A as the background. It shows never-ending competition that is so exhausting to see, but as long as it still delivers spectacle and great moves, it seems would satisfy it's fans and safely stick them from their seats until end credits appear.
A high tension Apes series with impeccable using of visual effects
While the summer blockbuster movie is nearly to be over, I think we probably won't find a winner inside "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" but at least what this movie offers is beyond expectation and satisfying to it's audiences. "Dawn" is much darker, more intelligent, more tension, more gun fighting, more improvement in visual effects, and in some aspects have better quality than "Rise". It's a perfect sequel to bridge the origin story into a larger issue in "The Planet of the Apes" series. Matt Reeves and the writer team had successfully shown life of two different species, their own problem to survive from end of the world circumstances also brought explanation of why they couldn't be together without any silly script or plot holes.
But of course most achievements should be rewarded to the using of visual effects and it's department (considering almost every scene involved them) who had created realistic look of the apes itself especially for Caesar character. Caesar is undeniably flawless in this sequel and the outlook easily makes him an iconic leader to his colony. Though perhaps the movie felt too serious and struggles with monotone score, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is a breathless franchise with brain and rich of heart and emotional depth.
The Act of Killing (2012)
Probably the most unique and intriguing documentary ever made
Intriguing, shocking and terrifying at once, "The Act of Kiliing" is a unique documentary that shows ugly truth about mass and sadistic murders from Indonesian government which was dominated by military and gangsters at that time. The film just twisted people's this whole time perspective blaming communist (who was believed responsible for some dissipation and death of many Indonesian important figure) turns into sympathy because what military of the government did was way more cruel and immoral. It's revealed how they hunt and killed thousands or even millions of innocent people who they assumed communist.
"The Act of Killing" isn't a comfortable film to see for sure because of it's theme about killing and stuff but it is undeniably an important asset of documentary and the history itself. Credits should be given to Joshua Oppenheimer and his crew who bravely convinced Anwar Congo and his executioner's colleagues to make confessions by re-telling of what really happened and allowed them to improvise with their acts and creativity. The result, this movie becomes not only thrills audiences with it's fact but also entertains them with musical and comedy. Even though, perhaps "The Act of Killing" wouldn't change anything from it's documentary filmmaking and troubles with some poor editing and uncleared sound effects, it's still simply powerful and could be the best ever possibly used documentary on storytelling that would leave audiences unspoken and the one that isn't easily forgotten.
A sequel that should be extinct
With showing some big explosions, loud score, city destructions, robots combat, slow-motion movement, brainless dialog and couple times exposed women wearing short pants, eventually makes it no significant differences between "Transformers: Age of Extinction" and those other Transformers movies. As expected, this 4th installment of Transformers series struggle in some mess plot, it's monotone storyline and in-aware humanity issue. There are so many plot holes, non-sense and dumb moment in the movie that couldn't be tolerable. It also lost in human's character development and wastes so much talented casts this film got. The star like Mark Wahlberg and Stanley Tucci seems only being object, their character just screaming, yelling, running and shooting anywhere they feels right.
Unfortunately all that horrible materials from this franchise felt unsurprised, considering Michael Bay still commands as director. He and Ehren Kruger as writer probably never learn some mistakes they had done from the previous Transformers. Their collaboration have been a messed-up since "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" which is strange why Paramount studio still extend their service to continue this promising and profitable film. Though the graphic visual might be showing some progress and the IMAX 3D is undeniably good, still it may not much to save these from disaster. Afterall "Transformers: Age of Extinction" is a cheap entertainment with big budget production that truly defines what a real mess-up movie is and a franchise which hopefully to be over and extincted. My suggestion, just having zero expectation before watching this or it's gonna be a 160 minutes full of regret and disappointment.