Reviews written by registered user
changmoh

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78 reviews in total 
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Brave (2012)
0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Highland Fling For Young Girls, 20 June 2012
7/10

"Brave" is basically a mother-daughter tale set in the Scottish Highlands and spiced with mirth, myth and magic. It is suitably action-packed and centred around a young red-haired heroine that most of today's young girls can relate with. However, its magical elements tend to run away with the story and leave older viewers dissatisfied.

The heroine is Merida (Kelly MacDonald), a skilled archer and impetuous daughter of King Fergus (Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old suitor custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: the massive Lord MacGuffin (Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (Robbie Coltrane). Merida's actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Witch (Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it's too late.

The first half of "Brave" is suitably absorbing, fleshing out the characters and personalities, especially of Merida and her mother who are the strongest individuals in conflict against each other. The others in the cast, especially the males, are mostly presented as caricatures, with all of them behaving like buffoons. The free-spirited Merida will not take her pick of them as her suitor - despite Queen Elinor's attempts to bend her daughter's will to the dictates of custom and tradition.

The story gets a bit weirder in the second half when it takes on a body-switch twist. From this point on, the battle of wills between mother and daughter is all but put aside as our attention turns to Merida's new crisis. Some reviewers have attributed the movie's lack of plot coherence to the fact that story creator Brenda Chapman left the project midway, leaving Mark Andrews to maintain the directorial reins. I wish to stay neutral on this debate.

However, I get the feeling that the plot is missing something when we consider that Merida, in pursuing her right to be 'liberated' rejects all suitors, but leaves her future and that of her 'kingdom' unresolved. Verdict: Not as memorable as "Finding Nemo" and "Up", but entertaining for the kids, nonetheless. (Full review at limchangmoh.blogspot.com)

6 out of 35 people found the following review useful:
Absurd Revisionist Fantasy, 20 June 2012
6/10

From the title, it is obvious that this is NOT the Abe Lincoln that we know from the history books. The curiosity factors aroused by this film, directed by Timur Bekmambetov of "Wanted" {2008} and "Daywatch" {2006} fame, are how creatively the film-makers 'bastardise' American history, and the set action pieces that Bekmambetov and his crew have set up. The answer: They are impressive but a bit ludicrous. Adapted from the book by Seth Grahame-Smith (who also wrote the screenplay), the film chronicles the loss of Abe's mother (Robin MacLeavy) at the hands of a vampire when Abe is still a child. This serves as the motivating factor for Abe's (Benjamin Walker) subsequent vampire hunting mission and his burgeoning career as a lawyer and politician to, finally, his Presidency during the Civil War. Along the way, he kills countless bloodsuckers led by the vile and vicious Adam (Rufus Sewell) as part of his secret war against the undead. The movie is obviously a mix of biopic and horror flick but it fails at both, and ends up being an expensive action film. This is evident in the story which has Abe wielding an ax against the marauding vampires instead of guns with silver bullets. With the ax, we get blood splashes and dramatic combat action - the sort of targets Bekmambetov usually aims for. Still, two of his set pieces stand out: a rodeo-styled chase during a horse stampede, and a climactic fight on a runaway train speeding across a burning bridge. I am not really a fan of the main vampire plot which borders on the ridiculous but Grahame-Smith provides a few interesting and absorbing subplots, namely the relationship between Abe and his wife Mary Todd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). There is chemistry between Walker and Winstead that makes us care about and believe in this absurd version of the First Couple. Also, Walker, who looks like a young Liam Neeson (he has played the younger version of Neeson's title character in Kinsey), exudes the simple and honest charm one normally associates with Abe Lincoln. Hence, bravo to the casting department. One the minus side, the anti-slavery subplot and his rise to the Presidency are given the short shrift; and the man-vs-vampire clashes are so absurd that we are constantly reminded that this is revisionist pulp fiction trying to get on the bandwagon of "Twilight"'s popularity.

10 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
Derivative, Overstreteched But Still Watchable, 30 May 2012
6/10

We have two Snow White offerings this year but the two turn out to be as different as day and night. While "Mirror Mirror" is a comedy spoof aimed at families, "Snow White and The Huntsman" is a darker fantasy for young adults, sans the adult-type visuals and humor.

Director Rupert Sanders, making his feature debut on a screenplay by Evan Daugherty and John Lee Hancock, maintains a murky and gritty narrative that stretches over more than two bottom-numbing hours. Yes, it's somewhat like taking the Grimm tale into "Game Of Thrones" territory, complete with lofty cliffs and expansive snowy locales.

This alternate version set in medieval Europe has a witch named Ravenna (Charlize Theron) as the evil stepmother who kills the king on their wedding night, seizes the throne and imprisons Snow White (Kristen Stewart) in a tower dungeon. Somehow, Snow White manages to escape not to the woods but to the Dark Forest where the queen's magic has no effect.

To get Snow White back, the queen and her beloved brother (Sam Spruell) 'hire' a nameless Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track her down. Meanwhile, Snow White's former childhood playmate (Sam Clafin as William) is also looking for her, setting up the love triangle that Stewart of the "Twilight Saga" is now so famous for. What about the Dwarfs? you ask. Well, they come in rather late in the movie - and none are whistling while they work. They do sing, surprisingly.

On the plus side, I like the breath-taking landscapes and fantasy sets that remind us of those in "Lord Of The Rings" and "Princess Mononoke". These help to ground the fantasy with a touch of credulity besides enhancing the movie's eye-candy value. Ditto that for the fabulous costumes by Colleen Atwood.

I also like the way the dwarfs (eight here, not the usual seven) are being portrayed by top British stars the likes of Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Johnny Harris, Brian Gleeson and Toby Jones who are computer-digitized to look half their size. They provide comic relief and a touch of rough humor in an otherwise solemn and brooding film.

As for the minuses, the most outstanding is Kristen Stewart whose range of expressions alternates between pouting petulance and silent rage. In other words, she is still playing Bella Swan here. Well, one can easily argue that her Snow White probably gets that attitude after being shut up in the dungeon for so many years. I am inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt, having seen her play the audacious teen rocker Joan Jett in "The Runaways". I believe she can act better if directed to do so. Theron is good although she tends to overact, bursting into her evil rages ever so often; and Hemsworth provides the beefcake moments.

My other gripe is the overstretched length of the film in which the film-makers try their utmost to provide character psycho-analyses for the evil Queen and even the Huntsman. This is quite unnecessary in a popular fairy tale and it just cramps the movie with too much baggage. All in all, it is a derivative but highly watchable fare. Full review and pictures at limchangmoh.blogspot.com

84 out of 128 people found the following review useful:
A Bit Outdated But MiB3 Is Still Fun, 19 May 2012
7/10

Well, whaddaya know, the "MiB" have gone MiA for 10 years already! No wonder many of us have forgotten about them as Men In Cape and Bodysuits (aka The Avengers, Batman, Spider-Man, et al) have been hogging the cinemas while the "Men In Black" go missing-in-action. No matter, they are still a barrel of fun in this three-quel that comes as more of a surprise than a treat that we have been waiting for.

And with Barry Sonnenfeld back at the helm of this troubled and delayed US$215-million production, it is a nostalgic film in more ways than one.

Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones reprise their roles as agents J and K of the secret Men in Black organization that monitors alien activity on Earth. The 'odd-couple' have their work cut out for them when extra-terrestrial serial killer Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) escapes from his maximum security prison on the moon and travels back in time to kill K. Since only J remembers K's existence, it's up to him to venture through time, look for a young K (now played by Josh Brolin) and stop Boris from destroying the world once and for all.

I have never been a fan of time-travel plots and I still don't like them. However, the time-travel subplot here is just to provide the "Back To The Future" fantasy to the MiB franchise. The narrative, as well as the mood and tone of the movie, are light-hearted, fun and always on the outer limits of credibility. Again, it is nice to see how a deadpan face like Jones' can generate so much mirth. The Smith & Jones pairing is augmented by Brolin who gives a good representation of how K would be in the Sixties, with most of the sequences accompanied by popular Sixties hits on the soundtrack.

One of the staple jokes of the MiB series is the celebrity cameos that suggest alien origins. In MiB3, we have a 'twist' that suggests a certain pop art personality is an undercover MiB agent! Still, the mainstay of the MiB series is Rick Baker's creature designs and make-up rendered in 3D. The 'monster show' does not disappoint, especially that of a huge fish that attacks diners at a Chinese restaurant. Oh yes, there are also a couple of cool gadgets and vehicles like the giant wheel hoover-bikes used by Agents J and K. On the whole, Agents J and K still provide the 'L'. - limchangmoh.blogspot.com

13 out of 33 people found the following review useful:
Not his Best, but Burton is Still Entertaining, 9 May 2012
7/10

Back in 1966, decades before "True Blood", "Buffy" and "Angel", America had a supernatural TV series called "Dark Shadows". This series, which ran up to 1971, was centred on Barnabas Collins, a 200-year-old vampire played by Jonathan Frid (who died after this movie was filmed). Curiously, this campy series had such an influence on director Tim Burton and Johnny Depp that they decided to make a modern version of it.

The result is this lavish production that has Depp playing Barnabas Collins as a 200-year-old vampire who wakes up in 1972 and is forced to navigate an era of hippies, pot, disco and free love. With its clock set in the Seventies, I suspect the movie will resonate better with the older viewers than the youngsters.

A voice-over prologue relates how the Collins family moved from decadent Liverpool to Maine, in the New World, circa 1795. The family set up a fishing industry in a town named after themselves: Collinwood. Just when the future seemed bright for Barnabas (Depp), a love triangle involving a witch (Eva Green as Angelique), and Barnabas' girlfriend Josette (Bella Heathcote) turned tragic - sending Josette to her watery grave and turning Barnabas into a vampire. Angelique then set the townsfolk on Barnabas who was captured and buried alive.

Fast-forward to 1972 and we find young Victoria Winters (Heathcote, again) arriving at Collinwood Mansion to take up a position as governess to David Collins (Gully McGrath), nephew of matriarch Elizabeth (Michelle Pfeiffer). Also staying at the mansion are Elizabeth's brother, Roger (Jonny Lee Miller); her impudent teen daughter, Carolyn (Chloe Grace Moretz) and child psychiatrist Julia Hoffman (Helena Bonham Carter). Meanwhile, construction workers unearth Barnabas' coffin and resurrects him...

"Dark Shadows" is certainly not among the best of Burton's films and neither is it among Depp's greatest efforts. However, the weird and offbeat Burtonesque ambiance and tone are evident and coupled with notable performances by the cast, it is an entertaining effort. The gags that sent our preview audience into laughter and guffaws involve Barnabas' view of the 'modern' world of the Seventies. The vampire is intrigued by lava lamps and the songs of Karen Carpenter, whom he thinks also deals in woodwork. And yes, he also thinks Alice Cooper is the ugliest woman he has ever seen.

Burton puts the Seventies hit songs to good use, evoking nostalgia and a sense of campiness among the audience. One of the pleasures of watching a Burton movie is seeing Depp in his deadpan, tongue-in-cheek role, setting a jocular mood to the proceedings. His violent love tryst with Eva Green's sexy Angelique is a highlight of the movie.

Another delight is Chloe Moretz who delivers some of the juiciest lines. Among the flaws are Barnabas' inconsistent reactions to sunlight and other vampire clichés which I prefer to overlook. Overall, a nice change from the "Twilight" offerings. (Full review and pictures at limchangmoh.blogspot.com)

10 out of 21 people found the following review useful:
Definitely A Masterpiece by Joss Whedon, 24 April 2012

This is one of the most awaited movies of all time - and for the legions of fans in Asia, the wait is going to be over soon. For those who have not yet booked their tickets, I suggest that they do so, preferably at the IMAX cineplex where the action in 3D can be overwhelming.

I must say I was a bit skeptical that writer-director Joss Whedon (creator of TV's "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" and "Angel") can pull off this six-in-one superhero flick. Will it be like assembling six major egos in a small room - and cramming their style? With the plot of 'six against one (Loki)', wouldn't that be overkill and unfair advantage? Will the storyline/plot measure up to the CGI and effects that take up a major part of its US$220 million budget? Will this Disney effort follow in the heels of John Carter and go downhill? All these doubts are dashed after 20 minutes into the movie - when we find Earth being threatened by demi-god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the head of S.H.I.E.L.D (for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) starts The Avenger Initiative. From here on, it is pure, Marvelous fanboy entertainment of the supreme order! You can bet this one is going to put Whedon among the ranks of top directors like Spielberg and Cameron.

Those who have seen Captain America last year may remember the Tesseract, the all-powerful energy cube found at the bottom of the ocean. Loki, the megalomaniacal brother of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) manages to get his hands on it and plans to use it to summon his army of outer space warriors to take over the world.

To stop him, Fury and his assistant Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) assemble the various 'superheroes' on his massive 'helicarrier' in preparation for war against Loki's forces. These include Steve Rogers' Captain America (Chris Evans), Tony Stark's Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Dr Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor. Special agent Clint Barton, or Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) makes up the sixth member a bit later when Manhattan is being bombarded by outer space monsters.

The climactic battle takes up almost all of the final half-hour but the whole movie is absorbing enough, thanks to a cleverly written script that incorporates a fine balance of sincerity and self-effacing wit. Indeed, before the Avengers battle the alien invaders, they fight one another, both physically and verbally. Like, Iron Man's quips when he first meets Thor: "What's this, Shakespeare in the park?" and "Does your mother know you're wearing her drapes?" Indeed, the punchlines are more powerful - and memorable - than the real punches.

Whedon does not waste time re-introducing his characters. We are already familiar with Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. The physical talents of Scar-Jo's Black Widow are 'introduced' in an interrogation scene where she later beats the brains out of her interrogators while she puts her boss Agent Coulson on hold.

I have always wondered how Mark Ruffalo will fare as the Hulk - and I am surprised he almost ran away with the show. His Dr Banner is a mellow guy hiding out in India before being 'persuaded' by Natasha to join The Avengers. On board Fury's helicarrier, we can see him doing his utmost to keep his temper in check - "you must have been doing a lot of yoga" someone jokes. And yes, when The Hulk emerges, it is really Incredible. Also watch out for Marvel Comics' Stan Lee who gets a self-effacing one-liner during the action scenes.

One of the 'misses' of this film is that Natalie Portman's Jane is left out of Thor's story - except for a picture. This is in contrast to Stark's relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) which takes up quite a few scenes. And even though he has to face-off against six superheroes, Hiddleston's Loki is formidable and menacing enough as the arch villain. Of course, Jackson finally has a proper role here after cameos in the previous Iron Man and Captain America films.

It really isn't about whether you're going to catch "The Avengers"; it's how many times you will want to see it.

Battleship (2012)
8 out of 23 people found the following review useful:
Attack of the Alien Yo-yos, Actually, 10 April 2012
7/10

"BATTLESHIP" opens with an introduction to Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch aka 'John Carter'), a brash young man who pulls all sorts of stunts without thinking first. This is especially so when he wants to impress a pretty lass named Samantha (Brooklyn Decker) who happens to be the daughter of US Admiral Shane (Liam Neeson). To get him out of trouble, his brother Stone (Alexander Skarsgard) enlists him into the US Navy - where his reckless behaviour gets him into even more trouble.

In real life, Alex would be deemed a regular jackass but to Hollywood script-writers, he has all the qualifications of the 'reluctant hero' in their action fantasies. This 'heroic turnaround' happens during a huge naval exercise in Hawaii when critters from a distant planet attack Earth with much superior weapons. Teaming up with other unlikely heroes like Petty Officer Cora Raikes (Rihanna), Capt Nagata (Tadanobu Asano) and crew mate Ordy (Jesse Plemons), Lt Hopper puts all his skills to the test to save the world! The action set pieces here are not as awesome as last year's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" but the early scenes of crashing buildings and exploding battleships are convincing enough to put the point across that the world is being invaded. Director Peter Berg heightens the excitement by showing the point-of-view of the aliens as they prepare to shoot - and the 'flying yo-yo' weapons of the aliens produce extensive destruction for maximum visual impact.

Berg rightly anchors the story on its characters, providing humorous glimpses of how some people react to the alien threat. Of course, we get the feeling that we are missing the 'big picture' because the action is concentrated only on a handful of individuals. We don't get to see how others are affected by the massive destruction elsewhere. These are just mentioned on the TV news.

It is interesting that Kitsch is starring in two of this year's most expensive movies: John Carter (at US$250 million) and Battleship ($200 million). However, unlike John Carter, Kitsch has a better and more developed role here. His Alex is a bit of a caricature - and Kitsch plays him with the requisite touch of humor. Neeson provides the 'veteran thespian' stature to the proceedings as the no-nonsense Admiral while Decker has the eye-candy role even if she is not as sexily decked out as Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in "Transformers: Dark Of The Moon".

Singer Rihanna is unimpressive as Raikes - a role similar to Michele Rodriguez's Trudy in "Avatar". Maybe she does not have good lines - but then most of the dialogue here are sloppy. Also, in order to enjoy the action, we have to overlook the numerous plot holes and suspend disbelief a great deal, especially near the end where we are to accept that a famous 70-year-old battleship can be recommissioned to do heavy battle in just a matter of hours.

THE VERDICT: Hey, everything up on the screen is silly, but "Battleship" is guilty fun and the effects are awesome! Now, will you pass the popcorn, please? Full review at limchangmoh.blogspot.com

14 out of 31 people found the following review useful:
Highly Ambitious But Ultimately Disappointing, 5 March 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Every once in a while, we get a movie that makes everyone in the film industry sit up and take notice. This time around, it is "John Carter", Disney's US$250 million effort that has been causing one controversy after another - including rumours of costs overruns and poor marketing. At US$250, it is arguably one of the Top Five Most Expensive films to date (after "Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End", "Tangled", "Spider-Man 3" and "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince"). As a non-franchise film, it is sure testing the box-office waters with lots of fingers crossed. I will even call it Disney's biggest gamble of the year.

After sitting through its media screening at the Sunway Pyramid TGV Imax cineplex in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, I am doubtful that it will be as hot a hit as the above-mentioned expensive blockbusters. It is likely to open with a big bang (probably over US$50 million at US box-office) before word-of-mouth takes it to the back-burner where it takes a longer time to recoup its costs. On the other hand, it may go the way of "The Green Lantern", last year's flop.

Based on "A Princess of Mars", the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs' 11-volume Barsoom novels, this is the story of war-weary, former US Calvary captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) whose search for a cave of gold inexplicably transports him to Mars where he becomes embroiled in an epic conflict amongst the planet's inhabitants. Basically, there are main three 'races' involved in the Martian civil war - the greenish, four-handed and tusked giants called Tharks; the humanoid Zodangas, and the Roman-attired Heliumites.

To complicate matters is a group of shape-changing beings called Therns who manipulate the war for their own ends. The Therns give Zodanga's ruler, Sab Than (Dominic West) a powerful weapon known as the Ninth Ray, forcing the Helium king Tardos Mors (Ciaran Hinds) to offer his daughter Dejah Thoris' (Lynn Collins) hand in marriage to the brutish Sab Than. Dejah, of course, is not keen on this marriage of convenience and she escapes and meets JC.

Burroughs' John Carter tales pre-date those of Tarzan. Here, in this 'origin movie', Burroughs (played by Daryl Sabara) is shown as John Carter's nephew and heir who arrives at Carter's English mansion to sort out some matters. This device gives the narrative an extra dimension that should boost its credibility. However, as a fantasy film, credibility is the least of the its problems.

The Barsoom (or Martian) sequences are visually spectacular (especially in IMAX 3D), reminding us of the exotic locales of Star Wars and even Avatar's Pandora. The six-limbed Tharks are a sight to behold although we can hardly differentiate the males from the females. However, these sequences are emotionally barren and un-involving. Who do we root for when the Martians battle one another in fancy winged air-ships? Director Andrew Stanton (who gave us "WALL-E" and "Finding Nemo") throws us into the swashbuckling action without prepping us with some plot build-up. But then, even the climactic battle is a blur of clashes because it is difficult to tell the Zodangas from the Heliumites.

The plot about Barsoom's civil strife is familiar, outdated and overtaken by other sci-fi tales (especially so since Burroughs' novels are a hundred years old). The massive budget has allowed Stanton to put emphasis on the creatures and sets but the narrative has not been improved to make Burroughs adventure more cohesive. While some events on Barsoom appear complicated and confusing, others look derivative of "Star Wars" and "Dune". There are few attempts at humor - the most obvious is by Woola, the ugly-cute Martian dog that is JC's sidekick. It provides the few laughs in the movie and should be the favorite character of kids in the audience.

The muscular Kitsch is energetic and handsome as the title hero known in Barsoom for his gravity-defying leaps. However, he lacks chemistry with Collins' Dejah Thoris and their romance seems implied and rushed. Collins, on the other hand, is solid as the feisty princess with both beauty and brains. She dominates the screen whenever she appears. Without its massive budget concern, "John Carter" would have been a passable sci-fi swashbuckler. With it, the off-cinema drama tends to be more interesting than the movie.

7 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
It's Not Comedy, It's Trash!, 24 November 2011
1/10

One thing that comes to mind after 10 minutes of this movie is: What the hell were the people smoking when they did this gad-awful trash of a movie? Jeff Lau's "East Meets West" is apparently an attempt at spoofing the Hong Kong music industry and a host of popular Cantonese comedies. However, it ends up making a sorry ass of itself.

It boggles the mind how so many famous and talented stars are involved in crazy cinematic circus.

The synopsis provided in the Production Notes is as follows: "Ten thousand years ago eight gods fought incessantly, not realizing that by doing so they were securing their own demotion into the secular world. They can only return to heaven once they can get along with each other harmoniously. Ten thousand years later a stereotypical Hong Kong girl Zhong Xiaoming, and her smart father Ah B, have no idea why they are being chased up for a debt. Having no alternative, they flee to Guangdong to search for the girl's unreliable mother Jia Jia to find out the reason. From antiquity to the present, East and West, dance and flight, a pleasantly surprising cast, magnificent and happy, no great disparity between rich and poor, success and prosperity!" It is a huge put-off to see characters dressed outrageously and acting like idiots even if they are gods incarnate. There is absolutely no emotional connection between the cast with the audience and for the most part we don't know what is happening or why. Is the sight of Kenny Bee in Beatles or Elvis hairstyle funny? No one laughed or even sniggered at the media screening I attended. Will anyone laugh at Ekin Cheng covered in flour and communicating in sign language? Again, no one found it funny enough to laugh.

Besides the iconic hairstyles, the cast also don ridiculous eyeglasses and weird wigs and make-up. The big-name cast, especially Karen Mok, are largely wasted in a movie that largely requires them to make a fool of themselves. Mok is supposed to be playing a woman who yearns for love and affection but is too shy to show it. However, she appears to be just clowning around in a meaningless role. Jaycee Chan has a cameo ostensibly to make fun of his father Jackie. Kenny Bee just looks lost throughout the movie while Ekin Cheng just look pathetic. (Full review at limchangmoh.blogspot.com)

18 out of 29 people found the following review useful:
One of Nic Cage's Better FIlms, 15 November 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Dogged by box-office flops over the past few years, Nic Cage's jinx seems to cast a pall over this suspense thriller. For one, the film is opening in Asia before North America. Next, the title, revised from 'The Hungry Rabbit Jumps', sounds rather mundane, but this is definitely one of Cage's better films and it certainly benefits from his performance. The problem with this movie lies in its script. Set in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, "Seeking Justice" has an interesting premise. However, director Roger Donaldson fails to explore it fully - and opts for more melodramatic but semi-relevant conclusion. Cage plays Nick Gerard, a school teacher and a loving husband to Laura (January Jones). He spends his evenings playing chess with his colleague Jimmy (Harold Perrineau) while Laura rehearses her part in an orchestra. This routine changes when Laura is brutally raped one night. At the hospital, as Nick agonizes over his wife's assault, a man who calls himself Simon (Guy Pearce) approaches him with an offer to deal with his wife's rapist in the way that the police and the justice system cannot. In return, he has to do some 'favours' for the group that Simon represents. Initially, Nick is appalled by the idea of vigilante justice. However, when he sees what the rapist has done to Laura's spirit, he agrees. Indeed, Nick is glad that the rape trauma is finally over... but his nightmare is just starting! I am glad that this one does not play like an updated version of "Death Wish" or "Taken". Seeking Justice is more complex and complicated than those flicks - before the plot gets sidetracked after the second half, that is. Cage and Jones are highly creditable for their roles as an ordinary couple trapped in extraordinary circumstances and situations. And it is easy to sympathize with them, especially with Cage's Nick as he grapples with the problem of shaking off from the shackles of Simon's vigilante group. Jones's Laura seems to have been dismissed rather early in the movie. Donaldson would not delve into the after-effects of her trauma, opting to concentrate on Nick instead. Jennifer Carpenter (of TV's "Dexter" fame) is also underused as Laura's best friend, while Pearce is suitable enigmatic and menacing as Sam, a role he can play in his sleep. Another thing I like about Donaldson's directing is his allusions to Hurricane Katrina, comparing its devastation of the city to the psychological assault faced by Nick and Laura. The movie claims that after Katrina, New Orleans folk have taken it upon themselves to keep the city safe, doing whatever it takes. However, Donaldson and writer Todd Hickey fail to explain how the city-wide vigilante scheme works, and they leave gaping holes in the narrative.


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