Movie review for ‘Aquaman’ and thoughts on the nomination list for Critics Choice and SAG 2019


Let James Wan direct a film and I can almost assure you that it will be a successful film, both critically and commercially. James Wan is a great talent and I’m sure most of you did not realize that he is actually born in Malaysia and is now an Australian residing in United States (involving so many countries). He has directed some hit movies such as Saw, The Conjuring films, Furious 7, first two Insidious films, etc. Aquaman is his latest directorial work and he delivered yet again. The film starred Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Nicole Kidman, Patrick Wilson, Willem Dafoe, etc.

 

Watching Aquaman is like watching Avatar. The length of the film (quite long; about 2 hour 20 minutes) and the scale of the movie matches that of Avatar. I had a great time and was very engaged through the entire movie (never felt it was long). The plot is fairly straightforward and what mesmerizes me the most are the excellent visual effects (the undersea’s scenes are marvelous), gripping action sequences (some familiar James Wan’s shooting style for the action scenes which is great), and some epic moments (during the battles, emotional dialogue, or even a kiss scene). The production design is awesome too.

DC films are usually associated for being in a darker tone especially when compared to Marvel films. Aquaman stays away from that and goes in a lighter tone instead with colourful and lively graphics. That is good as I’m not really fancy of super fast action scenes with super dark background usually seen in DC films. Most of DC films didn’t do well last time except for only Wonder Woman, and now Aquaman is added in as a great DC film. Out of 10 points, I rate Aquaman a total of 8.3. Truly a highly entertaining, exciting, epic visual and action-packed adventure film of a superhero.

Let James Wan direct the film and it will be well received, critically (gets quite good critics review, and should be better actually) and commercially (looks likely to be the first DC universe film to cross US$1 billion in worldwide box office). Its box office estimate and projection now exceeds than its earlier prediction much higher and that’s good news for DC.

After Golden Globe Awards 2019 had its nomination list released last week, it’s Critics’ Choice and Screen Actors Guild (SAG) turns for their announcement of nomination list this week. There is not much surprise to Critics Choice’s list as more nominees are included for that one. As for SAG, I’m quite surprised for Bohemian Rhapsody and Crazy Rich Asians making it into the five nominees for best cast in a motion picture (highest honor). Bohemian Rhapsody focuses more on effort of acting by a single person (Rami Malek of course as Freddie Mercury, and he also scored best actor nomination as expected) while Crazy Rich Asians is good but not to the level that it could get that nomination though. Critics’ Choice Awards 2019 will be held on January 13, 2019 while Screen Actors Guild Awards 2019 will be held on January 27, 2019.

(Images in this post are from various online sources)

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Movie review for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Gindelwald and thoughts on the nomination list for Golden Globes 2019


I enjoyed the original Harry Potter film series a lot. The film series added magic to my teenage years. When its last film was out back in 2011, I felt sad to bid goodbye to the wizarding world wonderfully created by J.K. Rowling. I was very excited when she decided to write 5 films set in the same wizarding world after that, and till now, 2 films have been released including the recent Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The film follows the adventure of Newt Scamander again as he takes on Grindelwald, a powerful dark wizard who had escaped from prison and is on his quest for worldwide wizard supremacy.

The film is a must watch for Potter fans but is certainly a must miss for ordinary moviegoers. You will not understand most of the plot details if you have not been following the Harry Potter universe in the past. I am not an extreme Potter fans (but I do still know some details of this magical universe) and I find it hard to digest the story. It is too complicated and the movie did no good by introducing so many new characters to make things more confusing. There were a lot of scenes with spells and magic but I can’t feel the charm out of them (I felt a lot of that in Harry Potter films despite much lesser spells cast). It’s certainly not about quantity or visual effects but about the building up of material and atmosphere in this aspect to exude the charm and excitement. Fantastic Beasts film series didn’t quite succeed on that although it has better visuals as expected in the current standard.

It’s nice seeing more of Johnny Depp this time as Grindelwald and the young Albus Dumbledore portrayed by Jude Law. As there are too many characters hanging around now, even Eddie Redmayne portraying as the main character, Newt Scamander is getting much lesser screen time. J.K. Rowling tends to go big and further expand the universe but she does it too quick now and the approach becomes a distraction and confusion for the general audiences. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald’ a total of 6.8. Anyway, it’s cool to watch scenes of the Hogwarts school on the big screen again in this movie that gave us back all the Harry Potter memories.

The nomination list for the 76th Golden Globe Awards set to take place on January 6, 2019 is out and it marked the beginning of major Hollywood award season. First of all, I’m surprised of some snubs (director Damien Chazelle for First Man, lead actor Ryan Gosling for First Man, A Quiet Place for best motion picture – drama, supporting actress Michelle Yeoh for Crazy Rich Asians, etc). I’m also surprised by Bohemian Rhapsody making the cut to be in the 5 nominees for best motion picture – drama (I’m actually happy in this case as I find it a great movie). I’m also shocked to see Black Panther in the same category (this superhero movie is super overrated…I have to disagree with a lot of people on this one). Although Michelle Yeoh is snubbed, but I’m still glad of some recognition to Crazy Rich Asians elsewhere (for Constance Wu in best lead actress in musical or comedy and best motion picture – musical or comedy).

A Star Is Born looks likely to win best motion picture – drama while Alfonso Cuaron is the guy to beat for best director from his work in Roma (didn’t see that but saw a lot of praise for his directing of that movie). Since Bradley Cooper looks likely to lose best director to Cuaron, I think he will get the best lead actor – drama instead although I prefer Rami Malek to take that one instead.

(Images in this post are from various online sources)

Fun but costly Saturday at Suntec City and Marina Bay Sands…and movie review for ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.


I have been working overtime for the past week and this weekend is the much needed time for me to rest and reduce my stress level. It looks like I’m going to be busy till the end of December and I can feel the pressure is building up to the point that I couldn’t sleep well lately. Fortunately, I have a nice outing with my friend yesterday in the city although it turns out to be quite costly (that’s due to my own fault).

Besides than going for a casual ‘sing k’ and a usual movie session at Suntec City, we have the urge to walk from the mall to the Marina Bay Sands through the popular Helix Bridge that offers amazing view of the city. Since we were already in Marina Bay Sands, it is super convenient to just drop by for a visit to its casino. ‘Itchy hands’ cause me to lost few hundred bucks there. So, what a costly weekend outing.

The highlight of this post is actually a review to the movie that I have watched; ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. It is a biographical film about the British rock band Queen, and it follows the life of the band’s lead singer, Freddie Mercury leading to the famous Queen’s Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium in 1985. I always enjoy biographical films as they allow me to know more of the person these films are based on who are usually very popular and influential figures (despite some historical inaccuracies usual due to movie dramatization). Before this movie, I didn’t know much about the band and its lead singer, Freddie Mercury who died at age of 45 in 1991 due to complications from AIDS. I only knew the two famous songs the band have produced; ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘We Are The Champion’. He was before my generation.

I enjoyed the film and I was very impressed with Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury. His resemblance to the singer is uncanny. When I was watching the movie, I felt like Rami Malek is no longer there and all I see is the real Freddie Mercury in it. It shows how much Rami Malek had done to get into this iconic character. For me, he totally outshines Bradley Cooper from ‘A Star Is Born’ in the best actor race. I can’t get away from comparing this film with ‘A Star Is Born’ since both are music-centred. To be honest, I even find ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ better than ‘A Star Is Born’. It has higher IMDB score than ‘A Star Is Born’ and yet a much lower score in Rotten Tomatoes. Critics don’t enjoy ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ more but general audiences do. I find that ‘A Star Is Born’ has excessively emphasized on the love storyline that couldn’t hit me although it displays superb acting as well.

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ does not attempt or pushing itself hard to be an Oscar film with a very nice flow of story added with strong performances and music sequences. I was very engaged with the storyline (interesting plot with not much of romance and some hilarious moments) that explores on Freddie Mercury’s relationship with the other band members and his former wife, his attitude, his unique style and his sexuality. The ending scene of the Live Aid performance is truly captivating and gave a high-note conclusion to the film. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ a total of 8.2. A dramatic and entertaining biographical film that will tell you more about this legend, Queen’s Freddie Mercury.

(Images in this post are from various online sources)

 

Happy Halloween! What’s the coolest Halloween gift you ever receive?


 

This famous painting of the nun from the ‘Conjuring’ film series would be the perfect Halloween gift for your friends! Give it as a surprise Halloween present for your playful friends! Haha. By the way, the painting seriously looks damn creepy. It would be terrifying if you really have this painting in your bedroom, right on the wall across from your bed. And when you turn off the light, the painting is slightly illuminated to reveal yet another sight of horror. I believe no one will dare to hang that up.

The movie ‘The Nun’ which was just released last month has been doing very well at the box office (it has grossed over US$360 million so farĀ  and is already the highest grossing film in the ‘Conjuring’ film series). It does not perform well to the critics though; earning less than 30% at Rotten Tomatoes. Have you watched the movie? It is a must watch if you are a fan of the ‘Conjuring’ film series. James Wan, a Malaysian born Australian film director is the man behind this. A very talented man (he designed this nun’s appearance as well as the creepy Annabelle doll too).

Anyway, Happy Halloween! Until these days, I’m still confused and curious on why do the Western people (or Christians) ‘happily celebrate’ and ‘enjoy with fun’ a festival that remembers the dead and puts ghosts and scary stuff to the spotlight. It is a norm for them to play trick-or-treat, pranks or other games, watch horror movies, attend costume parties, share horror stories, visit haunted attractions, and just enjoy the fun. Try imagine us, the Chinese celebrating Qing Ming Festival or Hungry Ghost Month Festival with games and laughter like Halloween. We would be grilled by the elders due to being very disrespectful. That’s such a different (totally opposite) practice by different culture. We said ‘Happy Halloween!’, but we will never say ‘Happy Qing Ming!’.

Halloween comes and it means this long month of October is finally coming to an end. I’m looking forward to the next two months (last two months of the year) where many holiday is coming such as Deepavali (next week!), Christmas and New Year celebration.

(Images in this post are from various online sources)

‘The Nun’ can be much better but it is still a good addition into the ‘Conjuring’ universe.


I was so looking forward to a full length film for the demonic nun named Valak that first appeared in ‘The Conjuring 2’ movie released 2 years ago. The horrifying doll ‘Annabelle’ that is first introduced from the very first ‘The Conjuring’ film (and is actually based on a real haunted doll of the same name) gets its own 2 movies. After ‘The Conjuring 2’ is released, people couldn’t get their mind off from the haunting visual of the nun and its very own spin-off film is finally released now. I was a little worried before watching it just now as I knew it received mostly negative reviews (scored less than 30% in Rotten Tomatoes). After watching it, I think it deserves more than that rating.

‘The Nun’ is the fifth film in ‘Conjuring’ universe but has a story that acts as a prequel to the whole thing. Sets in 1952 at Romania, the movie revolves on a priest and a novice who are sent by the Vatican to investigate the death of a young nun at a monastery. They together with a guy who first found the corpse of the nun encounter a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun. Many are criticizing the film for having poor story or narrative but I’m in the opposite opinion here. I find that the film has quite a clear plot and an easy to understand flow of story. It is simple and it’s good in a situation where it is not distracting the horror purpose of the movie.

What’s lacking from the film is that it has not much of suspense or building up of fear going on even as it reaches its climax near the end. The previous horror films in this franchise especially the first ‘The Conjuring’ film succeeds because it is extremely good on delivering scenes that build up the tension and intensity to get us to the edge of our seats. This movie relies too much on loud jump scares instead. There are also excessive scenes of the demon lurking and stalking behind the characters without any real frightening content later on besides than those expected jump scares. The film ends up being not as scary as anticipated. The nun appears briefly in ‘The Conjuring 2’ and it scared the hell out from a lot of people. Now, it has its own movie and appeared for a lot of scenes but it already losses its frightening effect. Sometimes (or maybe always) it is good to keep the ghost appearance to be as minimal as possible to make its horror effect much more lasting from various other means.

The production design for the film is brilliant nonetheless. A lot of effort has been put into that to create a creepy ambience that is perfect for a horror story. The setup of the monastery and its interior is worth a praise. The music perfectly fits in and it helps a lot to elevate and magnify the horrifying presence and arrival of the demonic nun. The cast did well on their acting especially Frenchie (the guy who first found the corpse) who are adding some unexpected hilarious content to this horror film. Last but not least, I also like how the first scene and the last scene of the movie link back to the whole ‘Conjuring’ universe. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Nun’ a total of 6.8. It is not that bad actually and it’s a good addition into the ‘Conjuring’ universe. I don’t mind if there is ‘The Nun 2’ since ‘Annabelle’ also has its second film already.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

Asian Games 2018 update so far and a movie review for ‘The First Purge’.


Asian Games 2018 currently on-going at Jakarta and Palembang in Indonesia is reaching its midpoint by now a week after its opening ceremony. China topped the medal tally so far as expected with over 70 gold medals and will stay comfortably on top till the end of the games. Japan is in second now with 34 gold medals while South Korea is in third with 24 gold medals. Iran is on fourth place with 14 gold medals so far while the host country, Indonesia is also doing very well (as predicted too due to home advantage) by being placed at 5th position currently with 10 gold medals.

Where is Malaysia? Malaysia is right now at 19th place with only 1 gold medal, 4 silver medals and 1 bronze medal. We are not performing well so far and it’s quite a challenge to reach our target of getting 7 gold medals. I’m hoping that we could break into the top 10 position but looking from the current situation, that is highly unlikely. We have to further lower down our expectation and it would be fine for Malaysia to just repeat the same achievement they have four years ago at Incheon 2014 with 5 gold medals. It looks like something is needed to be done urgently to bring our national athletes to adequate standard. If not, we will just be in a continuous downhill at international sporting events like this.

I’m only paying attention to badminton. Unfortunately, most of our national badminton players have already been eliminated before even reaching the quarter-final stage. They even failed to clinch any medal for team events. Only two Malaysian men doubles pair are left standing as they manage to get into quarter-final. Lee Chong Wei is not participating in this Asian Games 2018 as he currently quits playing to recover from illness. This means not only that we lost a huge chance to win a gold medal in men single event but this decision also means that Lee Chong Wei will never get to win Asiad (Asian Games champion) title in his career as he is too old for the next edition of the games in 2022.

Let’s move the focus from sports to movies now. ‘Weekend for movie’ is a good plan for me and that applies for this weekend too. There are not many good movies in release currently. I’m more excited for movies next month such as ‘The Nun’, ‘Johnny English Strikes Again’ and ‘The Predator’. I have not much option this month and so I went for ‘The First Purge’. It is the fourth film in The Purge franchise (I have watched all the first three movies in this franchise) and it is a prequel depicting the origins of the first annual ‘Purge’, a 12-hour span once a year in which all crime in America is legal including murder. For this prequel, this ‘Purge’ is being seen as an experiment and it only takes place in Staten Island, New York City.

I enjoyed the first movie in this franchise very much and I’m amazed by the idea of this ’12-hour murder spree’ thing in a film. The first movie is good as it builds up a lot of suspense in a confined environment (the whole story sets entirely in a house and is about the parents protecting their children from a group of outsiders who wanted to purge and broke into their home). As more sequels are coming, they are no longer decent as the direction changes from small-scale intimate setting and suspense building type of movie to large-scale shooting and brainless violence. Excessive unnecessary scenes of people dressed in masks and weird costumes and parading through streets are added in the sequels including this latest film. For me, those are rubbish. I am not here for massive action or gangster kind of movies and I am not here either for weird cosplay on the big screen. I’m here for intense adventure of hide-and-seek game and survival-driven film plot. Recent films in this franchise sway away too much from this more engaging approach. I only get this portion in the last quarter of this ‘The First Purge’ movie when a group of hired killers moved to the apartment block where the main characters are hiding to kill everyone in the block while the main lead character is going in for the rescue. The first half of the movie is very boring and draggy. The momentum only starts to build in the second half and that is very slow. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The First Purge’ a total of 6.0. If there are more sequels coming in for this franchise, I hope they listen to my opinion here.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)

A day in two malls and at Sentosa Island.


Although I’m still feeling slightly unwell today, but I insist on heading out to explore the city and seeks some entertainment in this weekend. Things go according to plan as me and my friend went to the Sentosa Island. This is the first time he is visiting the island while this is my third time doing so. The area around the Resorts World Sentosa still looks the same with all the fee-charging attractions. As I said earlier, I went there for the third time already and I still have not had the opportunity to enter into the Universal Studios.

We were just looking around for some sights and enjoy the happening atmosphere with a lot of tourists over there. We also went into the casino not to play, but to enjoy the comfy air-conditioning as the weather outside today is pretty hot. We spent nothing there except for the monorail fees (4 dollar) and a lunch at the ‘Malaysian Food Street’. Walking outdoor for over 10 minutes is already a bit unbearable with that scorching heat this afternoon and we decided to head back to the Vivo City shopping mall. The mall is the point for people who are taking public transport to travel to the island and it is also one of the largest malls in Singapore.

After Vivo City, we went to City Square Mall to catch a movie. Good seats are all taken up at Vivo City’s cinema and we have no choice but to change mall. We watched ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’. I enjoyed the film very much and I highly recommend it especially to the Marvel fans. It is very entertaining and I have an enjoyable time through the whole movie. In this movie, Scott Lang (Ant-Man) works together with Hope (Wasp) and her father Hank Pym to retrieve her mother Janet from the quantum realm.

The movie focuses mostly on turning small things to big things or vice versa and those scenes are brilliantly executed to deliver a lot of fun and thrills to the audiences. Ample of hilarious scenes made this movie experience very enjoyable. Those funny scenes felt very natural unlike those from ‘Deadpool 2’ that felt forced and awkward at some point. ‘Deadpool 2’ is the Marvel movie that comes right before this although it has no link to the storyline of Ant-Man or Avengers.

There are also some quick yet warm family and romantic moments to keep the whole atmosphere light and cheerful in ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’. The actions are good and the cast are fantastic. Do stay until the end for one mid-credit scene and one post-credit scene. The mid-credit scene is particularly crucial as it ties back to the event from the ‘Avengers: Infinity War’. I rate ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ a total of 8.5. A highly enjoyable and fun movie. With so many superhero movies released in the past already, Marvel is still able to produce some good works these days.

(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)