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Joker (I) (2019)
10/10
Hard to watch, hard to look away.
3 October 2019
By the time the roll credits started to show up, I was still not prepared to properly rate this movie. I would say it's one of the most overwhelming experience I've had in the cinema. After letting it simmer for a while, I'm definitely confident to say that it's one of the best movies this year thus far.

The story of "Joker" shows us the downward spiral of Arthur Fleck, a down-on-his-luck comedian and a mentally unstable man with a disorder that prompts him to laugh uncontrollably at any situation that causes stress.

That's enough of a plot description, because what you are about to see is a harrowing journey that at some point will make you so uncomfortable you almost can't bear it. Not saying that it went too far, violence-wise, but it's almost too depressing to be entertaining.

Joaquin Phoenix embodies the character so well and convincing that you can't help but be in awe of what he has achieved here. It's almost a one-man show, to be honest. The side characters are sidelined (pun intended) just so we could witness his transformation from this meek, nice guy to the titular Joker. Still, Robert DeNiro as the talk show host also served as a highlight.

I'd also say that I was never bored throughout the 2-hour runtime, given the grim and oppressive nature of the story. The slow-burn pacing is top notch and contrasted with some gruesome violence. Yes, it has visual cues from Scorcese classics (the aforementioned "Taxi Driver" is one of them) but there's nothing to distract me as unoriginal or something of a copy and paste. Some developments are really surprising and managed to bring some intrigue that will bring viewers to question what's really true or not, most importantly how it ties with a particular character (you could guess who it is).

I gotta say that this has the best third act any movie could offer. My jaw dropped right at the climax for how audacious and sharp the way things were handled in it. There are powerful messages on how society works and how we should treat people with mental illness, especially to people like Arthur in this day and age that will resonate with me long after I watched it.

Overall, I do think it has a staying power to be an essential movie or a classic outside the comic-book genre. Despite the controversy and the polarizing reviews, I'd recommend seeing it for how it pushes the boundary in commercial and mainstream filmmaking.
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10/10
Second chances and swan songs (sort of)
26 April 2019
By the time I'm reviewing this, I've already booked a ticket for a second watch. I've may not watched the entire MCU films yet, but I've been following the series since IRON MAN 2, so I'm more or less a fanboy (and I'm eager to watch the other ones later). But, I will try to remain as unbiased as possible and not spoil the story. In the case of this movie, I've already prepared for what's going to happen... or so I thought?

Man oh man, where do I begin?

By this point, (almost) everyone has watched "Infinity War" and been anticipating the next big thing. The movie started with the heroes feeling scattered and somewhat hopeless. All kinds of emotions are stirring inside them as they are desperate to fix what's happening around them. One way or another, they found hope and a possibility to restore what has been lost and unjustly taken. But, it also comes with a price, and it ain't cheap.

That's the best way I could describe the film without going into spoiler territory. The other thing I would say about it is that it takes inspiration from other films and pay tribute to them in a way that feels fresh and exciting. Most importantly is how they put their whole heart on their sleeves. It's really hard to go through this movie without trying to hold back tears, and not laughing. It's also appropriate as it is the culmination of what came before in the MCU and astoundingly achieves a balance of emotional catharsis and genuine humor throughout.

I can't deny how uniformly strong the performances are, most notably Robert Downey Jr. Since he started in Iron Man, we've been seeing him grow as a character and it is a career-defining role. He almost stole the entire film with his tour de force acting. He really caught me by surprise by how nuanced and heartbreaking his story has been taking him through. I doubt the Oscars would consider a nomination for him for the second time, but it's still well-deserved. Other standouts are Chris Evans and Scarlet Johansson, even Chis Hemsworth. Captain America has been a really stoic character, but now he gets to flex his emotions a bit more and my lord, how satisfying it is. Black Widow wasn't given a lot of character arc before but now is put into the forefront, not only she radiates sadness through her eyes, but also desperation and longing which is rare to see in the MCU. Thor grew on me more and more since THOR:RAGNAROK, and he balances humor and drama with aplomb, especially in showing his emotions. Honorable mentions goes to Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd and Karen Gillan. I've never seen Hulk as this balanced and neutral character. Hawkeye has never been grittier. Ant-Man is always the comic relief but here also provides as a ray of light in the darkness with his wit and dry humor. Surprisingly, Nebula is the character I've never seemed to care about, only to shred her layers of toughness and see her sad vulnerability.

There's still so much to unpack and unload in this unbelievable 3-hour movie and yet, it doesn't feel like one. Granted, it does get a bit long and messy at times, but that's part of the story and it somewhat enhanced my involvement in it. Even great movies tend to drag sometimes, and this one has such a clear-cut vision so it's forgivable. Again, nothing's perfect.

Narratively speaking, it's as satisfying as a finale can be. Just when you think it would go this way, the movie goes to another. There's still so much surprises in store and I thought it sticks the landing. The overarching theme speaks volumes and struck a chord in me.

I cheered, I laughed and I (almost) cried. Basically, an emotional rollercoaster and easily one of the most unforgettable movie-going experience I've ever had and I can't wait to watch it again to soak it all in (maybe the second time I'll cry haha).

They ended the era with a bang, and I'm looking forward for what they still have in store for us.
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Suspiria (I) (2018)
10/10
An uncompromising vision of beauty and terror
19 November 2018
As stated above (emphasis on 'uncompromising'), this is a movie not everyone can appreciate. It's very rare to find such picture that would go to the lengths of telling a story full of risk and originality (despite being a remake). The events on display are meant to elicit some type of emotion from its' audience, whether it be terror, awe, disgust, or even sadness. Nevertheless, it's never uninteresting or boring, well to me at least.

The main plot uses some elements of the 1977 version; a young girl from the US named Susie goes to a dance academy in Berlin, where a coven of witches resides. And the comparisons to the original stops there. This time, a psychiatrist who has a past of his own is involved with the investigation when things go awry in the academy.

Describing the story as pretentious is one thing, but this is one hell of a movie to analyze. There are so many symbolisms shown and hidden throughout the entire whopping runtime of 152 minutes, which is rare for a horror movie. What makes it keep on going is the layered storytelling. One of them uses the parable of political events (which is no wonder why it's set in 1977), including themes of guilt and shame as its' main emotional through line. Another thing is the use of dance as a key element of the film and an art form, from the thrilling first audition of Susie, her evolution as a dancer to the horrifying climax that's bound to turn off many people for its' disturbing weirdness (me excluded).

I'd have to praise the actors for their astounding job in this movie, particularly Tilda Swinton, who embodies Madame Blanc like a beast of a mother trying to protect her kin and imbues emotion as well as gusto into the role (she's also done different roles in this movie which everyone may have already known but I'll just keep it shut). Dakota Johnson, best known for the "Fifty Shades" trilogy, is a revelation. In a very physical role, she manages to hypnotize the viewers with her captivating dance moves and subtle expressions without seeming bland in a not very showy role. Another honorable mention is Mia Goth as Susie's friend, Sara. She's the most relatable character out of the whole cast and she excels in it by giving a very raw and human performance.

The camerawork is nothing short of immaculate. Luca Guadagnino has given a distinct style that feels very lived in and retro with its' grainy 70's look and grey palette while also being surreal, dreamy and terrifying with flashbacks, dream sequences and the final act giving way to hallucinatory and nightmarish visuals steeped in red and blood. The off-kilter camera movements generally fascinates and gives the movie a sense of dread and unpredictable disturbance.

It's something to admire when a movie operates on multiple levels. There's a lot more to say about this movie that could fit into a book essay. I can already see this to have a cult following from how different and ambitious it is (not to mention violent in the most wicked and best way possible). I could not recommend it more just because it challenges the viewers. There is no doubt that it is highly divisive, just like the Berlin Wall.
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2/10
I've never hated a movie so much in my entire life.. until this!
23 January 2018
Oh, Netflix, how've you made a huge mistake. The first time I saw this trailer, I thought it had a neat concept. It had the potential of a great mystery. But, oh boy, was I dead wrong!

The movie starts with Dylan Minette (I won't bother you with the character's name) whose father has a tragic accident as he witnessed it happened. The family has financial problems which prompts them to move. His mother's sister offers them an open house she has yet to sale in the meantime until they get back on their feet. As soon as they start staying there, weird things start to happen.

The first few minutes starts well, but then descends into a black pit of turd. Why do I find it so horrible? I mean, the actors are fine, the camerawork's great, the cinematography's beautiful. It's just the execution and the storytelling.are so unfathomably stupid, clichéd, and have been done to death. False jump scares; weird, possible red herrings; characters who are oblivious to what's happening around them, who does stupid things. By the end, I was just laughing because of how ridiculous the conclusion is.

The only saving graces are Dylan Minette and Piercey Dalton. They really tried to convince us with their conflict that stems from their grief. Their dramatic moments were the only highlight of this movie, which are so few and far in between.

It's infuriating to see such hackneyed work that looks gorgeous and has some great acting. If this were to be released in theaters, it would flop so bad. Don't bother wasting your time on this.
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6/10
Pure guilty pleasure
11 February 2017
As we all know these books have been adored and trashed by people all around the world. Honestly, I've read only this part out of sheer curiosity, given that the first one was actually a bit fascinating, albeit a tad unrealistic. Then again, the pleasure that this series has given is always about seeing beautiful people on screen doing things we hoped that in real life could actually happen to us.

Continuing straight from the end of the first movie, Ana has moved on with her life and is now working in a publishing company at Seattle. One day, a huge bouquet of white roses was delivered to her house and it's from... you guessed it... Christian. They happened to meet in an art exhibition and he wanted to start over. And this time, no rules, no punishment, and no more secrets. Unfortunately for them, a woman from Christian's past emerged, including his former lover and there's another problem with Ana's new (handsome) boss.

Let's just get this out of the way; this movie is a pure guilty pleasure. The story is not that substantial to begin with. It's built as a side attraction to the main event; the sex scenes. And let me tell you, It's more graphic than the first one, it could be considered as porn with a much higher budget.

You may think the plot is more dense and that there's going to be so much going on when in fact, there's not much. What I find quite lacking is the dramatic tension. All the conflicts they've brought up in this movie were finished so quickly and without much effort. It's like they're rushing to get to the next sex scene which there are quite aplenty.

All that said, the actors are really giving their best. Dakota Johnson, just like in the first one, lights up the screen with her quirky attitude and real vigor. And I found Jamie to be more nuanced in his role here, even though he was given less material to work with than Dakota. The others were game enough but didn't give much impression than the leads.

Another thing I have to say is that the screenplay is actually better than its' predecessor, and it's written by the author's husband, Niall Leonard. They actually make it quite funny and intentionally funny (contradictory to the movie title). Yet, any attempt at depth is almost nonexistent. The funny thing is that the book provides more information about Christian's past whereas here it got glossed over with only small glimpses of them.

James Foley, who once worked in another erotic movie 'Fear', brought all the glitz and glam to the movie, giving it a very beautiful look. Hell, even the cinematography is so gorgeous, it could pass for an Oscar nomination.

All things considered, if you really want to find two hours for an escape from real life, this is your ticket. Don't even expect to get an insight or the bigger meanings of life from watching this movie.
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8/10
Chaotic to a fault, this journey return to Underland has manic, trippy and inventive visuals with a simple yet busy story, while managing to overcome its' own flaws
29 May 2016
I have been hesitant about this movie since it was announced. After the mixed reception the first one got (even though I quite liked it), it's unlikely for me to be hyped for this sequel. Based on the negative reception this one got, I'm more reluctant to watch it. But, I gave it a chance, and it turns out better than I initially expect it to be.

Set a year later after "Alice in Wonderland", Alice Kingsley now becomes a captain of her father's ship. After an incident with pirates, she returns to London, only to find out that her father's ship will be sold by her mother to her once soon-to-be fianceé Lord Hamish or she'll lose her own home. Soon after, Alice thrusts herself back into Underland, with the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) being unwell and needing her help by going back through time while racing against Time (Sasha Baron Cohen) itself.

I think I'm in the minority here who thinks this movie is great. It seems like there's so much going on when actually it's really simple to follow. As I thought it was going to be incoherent, it flows along nicely. There's a sense of union in it's theme, with the importance of family as one of them, including a timeless message that you can't change the past but learn from it.

Every character from its' predecessor returns with a few additional ones. I love the fact that they give a few characters their backstories, like the Mad Hatter's family to the rivalries between the Red Queen and the White Queen.

Mia Wasikowska turns out better as Alice here than the first one, who was a bit dull and uncharismatic. In here, she's livelier. Speaking of lively, the special effects and production designs are spectacular. It's sort of trippy, gorgeous and thrilling at the same time, including a scene in the climax that's bursting with manic energy. I have to say, it's one of Disney's best efforts in making visually inventive images.

Alas, there are some flaws that I can't ignore, beginning with the screenplay. This isn't one of Linda Woolverton's best efforts. Mia Wasikowska did her best effort as Alice. The side characters weren't fully developed and a bit too two-dimensional, with the exception of Helena Bonham Carter, reprising her role as the Red Queen and Sasha Baron Cohen as Time, who gives a bit subtlety to his role. They both managed to elevate the material a bit, while the others fade into the background. Some of the lines were too simplistic and forced. There's one scene in the middle which I won't spoil, that drags the movie a bit. You'll know it when you see it.

That being said, it doesn't detract anything from the viewing pleasure. For those who say it's boring and doesn't have a sense of magic or wonder, I really have to disagree. At times, it's quite touching and deep. It's not as audacious as its' predecessor and even though it's not very original, they twisted it into their own unique vision, giving its' own originality. It does have its' own flaws, but I think it managed to overcome it. I can't really compare and say it's better than the first one, only at some areas (the first one has it's own weird scene where Johnny Depp is break-dancing, which is quite off-putting). I would give it more stars if it fixed the screenplay. Yet, I enjoyed it.

Note: This is Alan Rickman's final role as Absolem the Catterpillar. He will certainly be missed.
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10/10
The one blockbuster you won't expect it to be
21 November 2015
Which I didn't mean by disappointing. From my point of view, it's different by the way the makers decided to end this movie. For a usual blockbuster, you expect some kind of triumph and cheeriness, especially for a finale. In this case it's not. Somehow it makes this particular 'Hunger Games' even more interesting than I thought.

Taking off directly from 'Mockingjay: Part 1', Katniss, now slightly damaged, and her team of rebels are still trying to end President Snow's tyrannical leadership and create a revolution. Now that Snow has filled the Capitol with booby traps that resembles the actual Hunger Games, it is up to Katniss whether her nation can live in peace once and for all.

It might sound like it is kind of an all-out-war type of movie with many thrilling obstacles to overcome. If you expect it to be like that, you'd be slightly disappointed. Not to say it's not thrilling, but it comes with a very bitter aftertaste. Unlike the previous installment, it dares to become as dark as it can be.

Some reviewers here noted that this one is quite redundant and anti-climactic, making it somehow not a very satisfying experience. I have to say that it's not true. It is in some way very satisfying because of the emotional aspect that has been given by its' main character. Jennifer Lawrence played Katniss Everdeen unlike in the previous ones. She becomes more raw, more spiteful, and more tragic. Which is why the ending left me with a very large impact that gets under my skin and a moral message that winning a war is never a triumph to begin with, that it is only a chance to survive and live for another day with the cost of lives that could be lost, and that loss only becomes a waste that should have never happened.

Some other complains about the pacing. While some of them are true 'cause when some people has a short attention span, it could get tedious. On the contrary, it's what makes it more intimate and absorbing, creating a sense of atmosphere that is altogether dull and beautiful at the same time.

While improvements should be noted based on its' predecessor, 'Mockingjay: Part 1', that I personally still love, but doesn't give any payoff whatsoever. There's no unnecessary scenes here, but there are slow moments, which are enjoyable in the way the characters communicate with each other. It keeps building up from the beginning, finishing with a conclusion that is a bit twisted than I thought.

The actors done really well, as always. No need to mention Jennifer Lawrence, who is already an Oscar caliber and on the top of the heap. She's really the one who drives this movie and giving it more layers than the script has provided. Great actors like Julianne Moore as the cold President Alma Coin and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, who is more serious than before. Others like Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone and Sam Claflin really supported the movie with their great character arcs. Josh Hutcherson gave Peeta more emotion and depth in this one and who surprises me the most. A noteworthy mention is for Phillip Seymour Hoffman, which I honestly knew little from his role as Truman Capote in the biographical drama 'Capote', who has a sense of attractiveness and calmness as Plutarch Heavensbee. Too bad he died too early before this movie got finished, but his absence doesn't distract anything from the movie.

And that is also because of director Francis Lawrence, who also directed the previous two. He gives precision and impeccability to the movie. Script writers Danny Strong and Peter Craig keeps the film sturdy and solid without going on to cheese and cliché, and that is true and faithful to the book.

For someone who was expecting a great feeling leaving the theater, I got more than I've bargained for, and in the last scenes (which I won't spoil any of it) I didn't really realize that I'm crying. Truly, that is because of Jennifer's portrayal as Katniss which hurts more than I thought. It is somewhat a non-happy happy ending. And that lingers in me long after I left the theater.

Some may well be disappointed by its' outcome. But overall, I hope this movie gets more credit than it deserves. Because it not only gives a true life resonance, it's a piece of entertainment that makes you think from its' moral complexity and ambiguity. And that makes this finale somehow much more memorable and a rewarding experience than it could've been, at least in my opinion.
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Paper Towns (2015)
9/10
Another fresh perspective on a coming-of-age story that feels genuine and heartfelt
9 September 2015
Some reviewers here called the movie stereotypical or as "the breakfast club" wannabe. Well, I for one disagree with that statement. As far as I'm concern, I enjoyed the movie all the way until the end.

Since he was a kid, Quentin has fallen in love with his neighbour/school friend named Margo. They were friends when they were kids but drifted apart when they're approaching high school. One night, Margo came through Quentin's window room to do a so-called "mission", which brings back hope for Quentin to show his affections for her. Unbeknowst by him, Margo disappeared the next day and left him clues of where she is or gone to. Because of this, Quentin embarks on a journey to find her and the truth of her disappereance.

At first glance, this doesn't seem like a run- of-the-mill teenage romance dramedy. Actually it offers just that, but with a whole new perspective. It doesn't really flip the genre around, but it has an interesting story to tell. Because of the narration, the movie feels fresh and tolerable.

What makes it even more interesting is the characters. The actors shine in their role. Nat Wolff does a great lead as an aimless teenager seeking for his true love. The one who gets the most laughs from me is Austin Abrams as Quentin's friend Ben. Cara Delevigne succeeds her role as the offbeat, somewhat mysterious Margo, who's a brave and total flight risk.

Of course there are some stereotypes. I mean, is there someone who is not a stereotype? At least, there are some character development along the way and that's what makes watching this movie a rewarding experience.

At the end, seeing this movie brings me back to when I was in high school. It gives a nostalgic feeling that's either genuine and heartfelt.
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Sinister 2 (2015)
5/10
A potentially scary sequel bogged down by weak writing and unfocused direction
8 September 2015
I remember how disturbing the first "Sinister" was when it came out in 2012. It relies on disturbing imagery to keep the audience creeped out without too many jump scares, that brings back to the Japanese hit "Ringu", by using snuff films as a media for the supernatural.

This time around, following the success of its' predecessor, comes a sequel that is not half bad as it is not half good. Typical, like most sequels, "Sinister 2" can't match the brilliant (though a bit flawed) original because of its' weak writing and unfocused direction.

The story continues with a new family that has moved into a house near a church where people were murdered years ago. A single mother is battling for custody of her two sons from an abusive father. Little did they know that staying there could cause their own death.

Clichéd, right? Oh, but not quite. The elements of the first one are still presented, like the snuff films. They are still a bit shocking but not as disturbing as the first one did. Sure, it has more gore than before. And yet, the impact doesn't get skin deep. Alas, the Bughuul still get to me. While the children(?), most of the time (you'll get it when you see it).

But the movie's biggest disappointment is the generic, borderline bad, writing. Didn't they know why the first Sinister works is because of the characters whom actors brought to life through the script in the first place? All of the characters here are total stereotypes. I admire James Ransome as the main hero. Although he can't never replace Ethan Hawke, he could do better than this. Shannyn Sossamon (the last movie I watched her in was the total bomb "One Missed Call" remake) did what she could with the material she was given, but wasn't given enough room for more development, giving no effect to the story whatsoever. The highlight is the children. While limited, they acted well enough to be believable. I hope that they have a long career in filmmaking ahead.

Actually what bothers me most is that I enjoyed the first act of the movie. It starts out really promising and quite eerie at times, with the introductions and stuff that's quite fresh if not very original. They've managed to pull the rugs out... until the next 30 minutes and so when the story shifts to a different arc. And that's where the movie starts losing focus. I don't mind this at all if the filmmakers can handle it right but without any real character development, it fails. And then come the last act where everything starts to go haywire. It did, but not what I had in mind. The ending is both good and bad. In the end, it just leaves me frustrated.

"Sinister 2" is just another sequel with a wrong move. It does have potential because there are lots of great ideas that are scattered around and scenes really fright me out. It's a missed opportunity Not a total cash-grab as everyone says. Yet again, there's no more reason to watch this one than just to be scared without expecting it to linger after awhile.
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8/10
Though not better than its' predecessor, "Insidious: Chapter 3" earns its' own right as a standalone movie with some emotional undercurrents.
4 June 2015
The "Insidious" franchise has gone through some lengths to rejuvenate old-fashioned spook. The first movie was a surprise hit, giving the audience back their interests in horror movies to come. The second one worked sporadically with critics but still kept audiences wanting for more. And now, here comes another sequel (I meant prequel). Will it pay off? Maybe.

Quinn Renner (Scott) is a young woman seeking a clairvoyant to contact her deceased mother. She calls up to Elise Rainer (Shaye), who informs her that she may have been contacted with an evil spirit who will take her soul. Slowly, Quinn starts to have scary occurrences. And it's up to Elise if she can help her or not.

From the first scene, I can sense something different this movie will be heading. Even though there's jump scares aplenty, most of them doesn't pack a punch like its' previous movies. But, Whannell has a way to orchestrate frightening and rich atmosphere, that almost cover all the flaws.

Back to that something different, it is the emotional undercurrent that stood out, talking about grief and coping from it, while limited. It is something the first two didn't really tell.

The actors and actresses has done a great job. But, the real thing is Lin Shaye. She is a revelation. Her range as an actress can be seen solely from this movie. She makes you root for her, care for her, even laugh with her. When the movie starts to fumble, she holds it from falling apart, avoiding clichés and conventionality. A plus one for that than just being a good film.

If you're looking for the same intensity from the first two, you'll most likely will be disappointed. But, if you're looking for not just the scares, you'll get something more than most horror movies.

7/10... bumped up to 8/10 for Lin Shaye.
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Spy (2015)
9/10
Undercover hasn't been this much fun!!
23 May 2015
Melissa McCarthy, known as one of the bridesmaids who stole every scene she's on in "Bridesmaids", as a hilarious foul-mouthed cop in "The Heat", returns for another round of comedic turns in her latest movie "Spy". Teaming up with Jason Statham, Jude Law, and once again with Rose Byrne, this summer flick shows her how much far she can go to be one of the most comic actors/actresses alive.

Spy begins as a spoof to the James Bond movies, where the CIA is trying to find a nuclear bomb that is hidden by Rayna Boyanov, who is trying to make a deal with De Luca, one of the most powerful man in the world. As it turns out, the mission wasn't quite as it should be, until one of the desk-analyst is summoned to go on the field.

Undercover movies has been done countless times, but never been this much fun. One of the reasons is that it packs many surprises as much as the jokes. The casts are all around wonderful. And of course, all of this wouldn't work without McCarthy's presence. She threw everything on the table.

While the gags are a collection of hit-and-miss, it is the action that flips the table around. Paul Feig's direction in here is very impeccable. He gives the actors a room to crack up their inner funny self while other action-comedies out there rely almost everything on slapstick (except the "Jump Street" movie franchise).

The only critical thing about this movie is the slow first act. It feels a bit awkward because it wasn't really funny to watch. But, when the action starts, it really lets loose, filled with twist and turns and hell lotta fun.

See this movie in theaters and you'll come out giddy and happy. Recommended!
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Tomorrowland (2015)
9/10
Watch it with your own perspective.
22 May 2015
Tomorrowland begins on how the future will be like for us humans as we pass through time. Everyone most likely think it will only be scary and tragic, much like the end of the world scenario. But, there are some possibilities that humans can make and changes to be done in order to save the planet from the upcoming doom. That's the theme the movie tries to tackle.

Tomorrowland, as the trailer provides, is a place where all imaginations come to life. It's the place where all people can make everything they can possibly imagine, where all people are safe from corruption or conflict and all the negativity. You can call it as a utopia. Then, one day, an optimistic young girl (who is terribly interested in science) found a pin that can lead her to that place.

This summer where it's flooded with blockbusters that shows violence, profanity, etc., there's one movie that's very earnest in showing the audience where optimism can lead us. And this is it. You can say that it's very typical Disney and that it's only marketed to young kids. But, you can't always judge the book by its' cover.

Shortly speaking, this movie is very fun and enjoyable to watch. Sure some scenes a bit dragged here and there, but what keeps it from being dull is how the plot unfolds and the action scenes that qualifies any other action movies, and of course, the actors. George Clooney, as always, never disappoints. The newcomer Britt Robertson really surprised me with her comic timing. She showed her enthusiasms without getting annoying and painful to watch. She is very fun to watch.

There are some things that are problematic to the plot, like how the third act was not really surprising or not as strong as the scenes precedes it. Yet, it does end nicely. That is why it won't be much of a problem because it's very amusing to watch. Courtesy of Brad Bird. His direction really payed off and keeps the movie clean and tight.

Not so different to any other summer blockbusters, but this one will make you feel like riding a roller coaster for the first time. Some will say it's "same old, same old", but hey, don't let them spoil your view.
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10/10
"Avengers: Age of Ultron" is yet to be one of the best blockbusters of 2015!
22 April 2015
One of the strengths of its' predecessor, "The Avengers", is how the makers managed to blend characters and action together, giving either excitement and emotional satisfaction. This time around, it is more ambitious than ever. So, does it work? Yes, it does.

Telling the plot would only spoil the experience. When I first watched the trailer, I knew nothing about it. All I know is there is a talking robot and mass destruction. Going in unprepared was totally the right choice that I made.

All I'm going to say is this; A:AOU is going to be one of the best movies in 2015. From the exciting opening to the thrilling finale, this bad boy will leave you breathless. Talking about breathless, the action was spectacular. It is on par with the first one.

The star-studded casts are amazing, as always. What I admire most is the screenplay. It makes the characters more... human. They are relatable than ever. The movie has some psychological depth that was not really fleshed out before.

Conclusion: It was a satisfying experience. Go watch it!
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Insurgent (2015)
Different from its' predecessor, "Insurgent" is faster and more action-packed.
21 March 2015
"The Divergent Series" has always been compared to the likes of "Hunger Games" and "Harry Potter". While the concept is a bit alike, the story got its' own backbone. Continuing "Divergent", "Insurgent" isn't really like its' predecessor. It's faster and more action-packed than ever, filled with thrilling chases and inventive visuals.

"Insurgent" follows Tris (Shailene Woodley), Four (Theo James), and the others on the run from Jeanine Matthews (Kate Winslet) who is hunting divergents (you'll need to see the first one to know more). There's a plot includes a mystery box that only divergents could open it, through simulations.

Doubting it would be good, it turns out to be better than expected. Not only the pace is faster, the stakes are higher and it creates a darker tone. The actors were as fine as the first part. It is the change of director that marked an improvement from the last one. Robert Shwenke gives more tension to the audience with enough visuals that could make your heart pound.

Not saying the movie doesn't have any flaws. There's a bit of problem with the script which is either the movie's strength and weakness. Some scenes are not very well executed. But, that doesn't really matter to the experience as a whole. Thankfully, the action scenes overcome its' flaws.

If you love "Divergent", there's no doubt you're going to love this. Overall, a satisfying experience.
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6/10
For films like this, it's best not to think too much about it
12 February 2015
Of course, this is a bad movie. Yet, there are plenty of guilty pleasures to behold here. When I say it's bad, I didn't say I didn't enjoy it. I mean, there's a lot of potential going on. Unfortunately, it leads to a bit disappointing finale. But, it is salvaged by an amount of suspense before the ensuing chaos.

At first, J.Lo... why did she even bother signing on this? I thought that this is too low even for her standards. But, later on, I think that she's pretty committed on doing this role. So, I decided to lay back and enjoy the ride.

Then, along came Ryan Guzman, as the so-called "Boy Next Door". Hmmm... He did a pretty fine job. When the tension ratchets up, he looks threatening convincingly, despite what critics say about his performance.

The supporting casts are good as well. Kristin Chenoweth stood out for me, adding comic relief and zing along the way.

My main criticism is the script. Not only it's a bit sloppy, almost made-for-TV writing, but it falters in the end. There are some characters' action including Lopez's, that's nonsensical and... stupid, actually.

When it comes to nonsensical and stupid, I just wished they would close it with being campy and over-the-top. It doesn't truly reached that level and the result is only a half-baked mess.

But, all those flaws don't matter too much because Rob Cohen's direction are superior than most of his movies, especially his last offering "Alex Cross", although it's his fault too.

For a movie released in January, it's better than expected. But, for a real nerve-wracking thriller, don't get your hopes up too high.

Just watch it for pure brainless entertainment without much to think about. It's not that bad...
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Annie (2014)
8/10
You'll end up smiling long after watching it.
30 January 2015
Are you kidding me, critics? This is a very pleasant movie for the ages. I can't believe how low the rating is. I mean, it's impossible not to be charmed by "Annie". Well, there are some cheesy parts, of course. But, the laughs covered it because it keeps on coming and it's done with finesse.

Certain aspects has been updated, and for the better. You could relate more to the plot and its' characters. Many pop culture has been brought up that made my belly shake and some plot changes from the original to make it more believable.

The characters are more lively than the 1982 version, in my opinion. I was doubtful at first when they casted Quvenzhané Wallis for the part, but her performance didn't bother me at all. Every cast did their part very well, even Cameron Diaz although she tends to go over-the-top. But, of course, it's a comedy. There are some room for over-the-top-ness. And the drama balances it with enough heart-rendering moments.

Last but not least, the music. I love it! The arrangements and some additional music from Sia and Greg Kurstin added sparkles to an already great movie.

I think the only thing I'll criticize is the running time. The second act runs a little longer than it should've been. Yet, it never gets boring.

All in all, a very pleasurable experience. Don't bother listening the critics. Watch this movie for what it is, which is a lighthearted family entertainment. You'll end up smiling long after watching it.
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The Equalizer (2014)
4/10
Violent... and monotonous!
27 September 2014
Don't get me wrong, i love Denzel Washington. I love every action flick he plays in 'cause he brought such charisma on the big screen. This one is an exception. I was ready to get pumped up by all the gore galore and crazy fight choreographs... and it's not what i am expecting, at all!

The story is about a man named Bob McCall, a mysterious man i might add, who stumbles upon the world of Russian gangster. He met a girl named Teri, who is one of their prostitute, that one day got beaten. Bob got furious and goes for vengeance against them.

The movie got me all right, but i've never been so bored in my life. Let's start from the action. It didn't work. It supposed to give me any impact, yet i felt nothing. Blood are spurting everywhere, all right. But, why do they have to make it so bland?

The actors done all their things the script requires... nothing evoked emotions from me. I blame the screenwriters for giving no depth and not a single twist. Bad move!

Although, there are several things i'm going to highlight, like the camera-work. I loved Antoine Fuqua's style and it gives the movie more dignity than it was. And some scene involving Chlöe Grace Moretz with Denzel gave me a little bit interest for the dynamic they showed.

I know Denzel Washington fans are going to love it, but just a fair warning; it's not really fun to watch even if the violence pushes your button. In the end, it's a bit of a dud.
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Lucy (I) (2014)
10/10
Call me crazy...
26 August 2014
...but i can't help raving enough on this movie. A lot of action movies fall out short on brains, yet this is top of the line. Whether you like it or not, you have to be attentive and focused to understand. Oh, but don't worry, you won't need to, 'cause you will be pinned down to your seat the whole ride.

The story actually starts simple, but gets complicated as it goes. A girl named Lucy gets kidnapped in drug deal and something goes on about some discussion about how people's brains work and that we only use 10% of it, and some drug that could make people use their brains to 100%, and... you'll know where it's going at.

Simply put, this is one of the best action movies i've ever seen. It tries to merge science-fiction and action, and i think that it's very ambitious. But, sometimes it could come out as a misfire. This one in particular, is not the case.

I found every aspect of this movie perfect. From its' opening shot to the final. Character developments aside, it runs briskly and fast-paced at a rate of 89 minutes. Thrills are on the way from one scene to another. Scarlett Johansson runs the show. She gives Lucy's character to life. I don't even notice that it's even her anymore as the movie plays. The other cast done well with their given characters and although they don't give the movie more seasoning, they don't go down to be obnoxious.

I heard some people really love and trash the movie at the same time. I understand why. Some will dismiss it as downright silly for the everything-is-possible way the movie goes and all the philosophy is total bull***t. But, that's not the reason to go to movies for pure logic and plausibility, right?. You go to them for entertainment. I think this movie is pure entertainment.

Luc Besson has brewed a magnificent, thought-provoking, fun, silly, and sometimes weird and creepy movie. i'm hoping for more like this to come
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8/10
Prepare to be "blown" away!
6 August 2014
Seen this movie yesterday for the premiere and wasn't expecting much, thinking it would only be a dumb tornado movie (for instance; Sharknado, but without the sharks). As the movie starts for the first scene. Well... i thought it was promising. But then, the more it gets going the more it gets better 'til the climax.

The plot is thin as a tissue; the chronicle of several people trying to survive a tornado heading towards their way. The first encounter went to a group who are trying to document the eye of the tornado. While it's certainly destroyed some of the area, it gets worse and worse. It's up to them to fight for survival before it consume their lives.

I know right? Mediocre storyline. But, the fact is we don't really see the movie for a rich storyline now do we? As the movie progresses, i was taken away by the effect the movie has given to me. It was spectacular. You'll know what i mean when you see it.

The actors did a pretty solid job with a thin script. While, by all means, the script is not terrible. You might as well know Richard Armitage from "The Hobbit" franchise. Gone all the ego of Thorin Oakenshield and come up a down-to-earth father with two kids and is a vice president of Silverton Highschool. Sarah Wayne Calles, who was in "The Walking Dead" series, turned up to be a pretty convincing meteorologist. The other actors down well, while there's some annoying characters along the way. I know they did it for some comic relief, but after awhile it gets a bit irritating.

And yet, the tornado is the movie's saving grace. Watch it in cinemas for the full effect. It'll worth your buck.

Verdict: 7.5/10
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The Babadook (2014)
10/10
A one-of-a-kind masterpiece!
6 August 2014
Seeing the title, i was hesitant with the movie. I mean, it's a little ridiculous and it got me thinking it's some kind of throwaway comedy/horror. But, NO! This movie blew my expectations out of the water. I was trying to close my ears and eyes when the scares started yet i can't miss a scene of this gem.

It is a story about a grieving mother with a single child after the death of the father seven years later. Coping from her grief, one day her son found a storybook named 'Mister Babadook'. And then... I just can't tell you 'cause it would only ruin the surprise!

I gotta tell you i was not expecting much. But, everything seems to be running smoothly. From its' cinematography to its' acting. The actors did an excellent job portraying the bleak family, bringing tension to the highest level possible. And the Babadook...

I just can't believe this is just a low budget movie. It's flawless!
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9/10
Why bother on originality when the execution is so well-handed?
28 May 2014
There are multiple plot strands from other films gathered into a union. I won't give you any hint but you'll get it when you see it. Nowadays, movies are short on originality. But, in this case, you won't give a thing about it.

Premise: An inexperience military officer was sent to war to fight an alien race invading the earth. In the middle of the battlefield, he got into an accident which causes him to go into time- loop that repeats each moment when he dies.

The basis of the plot looks familiar... That could be a big problem. On the contrary, it succeeded to provide a big summer blockbuster satisfaction. The pacing is perfect, the acting is perfect. Oh, and did i mention the effects? It was ragin'!

See this movie with low expectations (2D or 3D doesn't matter)...
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10/10
One of the most dazzling movies i've seen so far!
7 February 2014
Don't get me wrong, but this is the most dazzling movie i've seen. The animation was perfectly staged and drawn, you just can't believe what you've just seen.

I can't throw away the plot (except if you've seen the trailer) because it will diminish the fun. I'm just going to tell you this, you will laugh just as much as you've hit the treadmill. And there's an unexpected twist towards the end that will surprise and blow you away. Trust me, it will not disappoint you.

All the way through, a start-to-finish delight, an incredible and original movie, a marvelous experience!
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10/10
A rare achievement!
18 January 2014
I was not ready for this sequel. I thought this is going to be bad or lacking in scares and suspense, after the release of "The Conjuring". Well, i was entirely wrong. Right from the very start, my eyes were frozen to the screen. I can't take my eyes off of it.

The story continues directly from the first one, with a little flashback about Josh Lambert. There's something wrong after the events occurred in the first movie proceeded. It's not finished yet with the family. I really cannot spoil the plot because you will have to see it for yourself, and experience it.

There's so much element that's better than the first. Technically, it is very crafty. You won't suspect it coming. When some of the situation went over-the-top, there's more comic relief to cool down the tension. But, over-the-top never mean it's laughable. The tension it got was very unnerving and got under my skin. I don't get easily scared at horror movies. Yet, I screamed involuntarily.

This is what a horror movie should be like. James Wan has a talent for directing. It never feels derivative or predictable. You just have to hang on with the ride. Horror geeks will love this movie. It's what a sequel should be, and it is a total blast.

Note: Patrick Wilson's performance here is excellent. And I hope Insidious: Chapter 3 will not suck.
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10/10
There's only one word to describe this film: SPECTACULAR!
23 November 2013
Sequels rarely live up to its predecessor. But in this case, aside from the fact that it's adapted from the book, it's expanded. It's a start-to-finish entertainment. With a gap only for one year and eight months from the first one, This is a solid fare.

The movie continues the events from the first movie. Katniss Everdeen (the remarkable Jennifer Lawrence) is still struggling from her trauma of the 74th Hunger Games. She and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), are presented to each district of Panem as the sole survivors. Katniss became a symbol to the people and causing them to start a rebellion. The president (Donald Sutherland) is conducting the 75th Hunger Games, named Quatrell Quell, and it's all up to Katniss on how to survive from it.

What's interesting is in the script. It is so unpredictable that it keeps your heart racing waiting for what happens next. It never goes downhill. Everything is slick and unpretentious, never boring. You'll see it.

I recommend you to see the first one because a lot of reference will be needed to watch this spectacle.
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Carrie (2013)
8/10
Imperfect, yet solid..ehem..remake
22 November 2013
Remakes are often trashed by viewers, occasionally who have seen the older version. This one, i have to say, was pure entertainment. To be frank, there's nothing bad in this movie. But, i didn't say it's not flawed. I was just expecting another horror flick with jump scares and blood spewing all over the place. One minute into the movie, i was rather surprised.

The story is about an innocent teenage girl named Carrie (Chloë Grace Moretz), whom has a mentally abusive mother (Julianne Moore). Her life was very miserable. She got bullied at school and her neighborhood condemn her as being a freak. Until, she found out that she has a telekinetic power that could control every single thing. But, she doesn't know how far her power could go and do to the people who pushes her. All is well until one night that changed it all.

The movie is a remake of the 1976 version. I am glad to say that it was never boring. I was pinned down to the seat and saw the whole thing, especially the climax which i won't spoil any of it.

Julianne Moore, wow! I can't say a word about her performance here. She brought the hell out of her and made me witness her craziness. It was all very freaky and horrifying. Chloë Grace Moretz played the role as Carrie convincingly and made me feel about her character. All of the cast were well-acted.

Though, there's just a minor thing i would criticize.

The CGI wasn't all that spectacular. Sometimes we could see that it's not real. And the pacing was a bit off. Yet, i'd have to say it was well-executed and the effect was pretty gruesome at times.

Conclusion: Very solid remake and recommended for people who loves to be scared, and believe me, you WILL know her name.
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