‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ (2016) cross 1-billion mark, movie review for ‘Manchester by the Sea’ (2016), and final thoughts before Oscars’ nominations announcement tomorrow.


‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’, the latest film in hugely successful Star Wars film franchise has recently grossed over US$ 1 billion in worldwide box office intake. This film that was released on December 2016 has a story that sets before the original 1977 Star Wars film (hence a prequel) and it starred Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen, Forest Whitaker, etc. I watched that movie and I did gave a short review for it in my earlier post. As of 23rd January 2017, the film has grossed US$ 1.011 billion. It is now the 28th film in history to cross the 1-billion mark and it is also the 4th film in 2016 that is able to do so. The other three are Captain America: Civil War (US$ 1.153 billion), Finding Dory (US$ 1.027 billion), and Zootopia (US$ 1.023 billion).

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Coincidentally, all the four highest grossing films in 2016 (of which each of them gross over US$ 1 billion) were distributed by Disney. What a huge success for Disney last year then. The 5th film in the list also goes to another movie distributed by Disney, and it is ‘The Jungle Book’, but it could only accumulates US$ 966 million (still a huge box-office hit). Everyone is loving Star Wars (but not me, and I find that the Americans love it very much), hence this box office outcome for ‘Rogue One’ is very much expected. This also comes after the big hit from ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ in 2015 that managed to gain US$ 2.068 billion, becoming the third movie in history to cross the near-impossible 2-billion mark. The next Star Wars film to be released in cinema is ‘Star Wars: Episode VIII’ on end of this year and I’m sure it is going to achieve similar success in box office too.

On the other hand, I have watched another new film just now. It’s a 2016 film called ‘Manchester by the Sea’. The reason I watched this movie is because it receives a lot of awards buzz and also overwhelming critical acclaim, with many praising and awarding best actor to the lead of the story, Casey Affleck. I stand with the minority this time. I think this movie is good, but clearly not a masterpiece or a solid top-notch drama as claimed by various critics out there. The movie, written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, revolves on an uncle (Casey Affleck) who is tasked to take care of his teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges) after the boy’s father dies.

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What’s good from this movie is the acting. I find that Casey Affleck did well for his performance here. He nailed all the scenes when he has to convey subtle emotions and expressions. It’s not easy to do that and yet he did it. In past years, we always see showy and dramatic performances that got the actors and actresses winning awards. This year, it’s time to recognize subtle performances. This is one great example and it’s not easy to be done. Hence, I have no issue with Casey being nominated for best actor in Academy Awards and even winning it next month. However, I still think that his performance here in ‘Manchester by the Sea’ to be not perfect yet, as I find some of his scenes are a bit over wooden and pale. Lucas Hedges is great as the teenage boy in the movie and he should get a best supporting actor’s nomination. Same goes to Michelle Williams as Casey’s ex-wife in the movie. Her screen-time is very little and yet she manages to conquer those emotional scenes very well. A best supporting actress nomination for her. Other than acting, there is actually nothing else great about this film. It has a plain story, poor editing, and unsuitable background score too. It’s supposed to be a dramatic and a moving film, but in the end, I don’t feel anything. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Manchester by the Sea’ a total of 7.0. And all those points are mostly from acting only. This is one over-rated 2016 film.

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The nomination list for the 89th Academy Awards will be announced tomorrow. Me, as one of the moviegoers who also loves watching Oscar-type movies are quite excited for it. Who will be snubbed this year? Who get to sneak in? Which film gets the most love? And which film gets forgotten? All will be revealed tomorrow.

As for my final thoughts before the nomination list’s announcement tomorrow, I think there would be a few surprises in the nomination list as expected since Academy loves to give us some shock and surprise every year. ‘La La Land’ is expected to get the most nominations, and together with ‘Manchester by the Sea’, ‘Moonlight’, ‘Fences’, and ‘Arrival’, these 5 films look like they are a lock-in for the best picture nominees. There are 3 or 4 more slots in that category and all the other potential films are trying to squeeze in. Best actor race is not that interesting this year and it looks like Casey Affleck is going to take the Oscar home. On the other hand, best actress race is very competitive this year. It’s like anyone can win it this year with no clear favourite and that makes this category intense and exciting. Alright. I will leave more of my opinions when I published the nomination list in my blog here as soon as it is revealed tomorrow.

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

 

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Movie review for ‘Spectral’, ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ and ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ (2016)


This post would be my last movie reviews of the year. In the past week, I have watched three additional new films of which they are all released this year and I have some thoughts to write about each of them. So here it goes.

‘Spectral’ is a military science-fiction film by Netflix about a special-ops team that is dispatched to investigate strange killing of their troops and later found out what they are dealing with is supernatural beings, or is it? This movie is a bit under-rated and it’s a waste that such movie didn’t get a worldwide theatre release. It’s a great movie. It’s full of actions and suspense, and that’s enough for movie of this category. I’m not looking for any deep character development and just a thrilling action ride, and this movie delivered to the best. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Spectral’ a total of 7.8. I don’t even mind for sequels for this film since the story looks like it has a lot of potential to develop, especially on the scientific part of the creation of those ‘supernatural’ beings and the further sinister plots behind it.

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‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ is a must-watch movie for all Star Wars fans. I’m not a fans of this franchise but since it is so popular, I watched this ‘Rogue One’ which is actually a prequel to the earlier films. The story is about the Rebel Alliance which makes a risky move to steal the plans for the Death Star, setting up the epic saga to follow. It starred Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Riz Ahmed, Forest Whitaker, etc. A very ‘international’ cast indeed. I’m surprised that the Chinese actors in this movie get to play more significant roles this time. Chinese cast are usually just taking very minor roles in big Hollywood productions just to attract Chinese market. The movie is fine. I’m actually feeling bored with the first half of the movie and the movie only got my attention in the last part when ‘Rogue One’ ship started its mission to steal the plans for the Death Star. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ a total of 6.7. This movie is going to earn a lot in box office as expected (I think will gross over US$ 1 billion in box office). And we are going to see more Star Wars films soon since this film franchise now returns to the big screen, since Hollywood knew how much profit they can make from this franchise.

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‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ is an animated movie about a¬†young boy named Kubo who must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past. It is a 3D stop-motion fantasy action-adventure film by Laika which is a famous studio specializing in producing stop-motion animated movies. Their past works are ‘Coraline’ (I love this movie), ‘ParaNorman’ and ‘The Boxtrolls’. Their latest work, ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ has a good and moving plot, beautiful visuals and styles, lovely and engaging main and supporting characters, thrilling adventures and hilarious moments. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ a total of 8.0. Another masterpiece by Laika. ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ is so far the best animated movie of the year. I’m looking forward to more Laika animated films since I enjoyed watching stop-motion style in animation. It’s unique and interesting.

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

Tom Cruise shines again in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation (2015)


For spy intelligence and action-centred films, I always enjoyed two film franchises which are based on that themes; James Bond and Mission Impossible. Both will have new films up this year, and the latter had it out first with ‘Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’. It’s the fifth installment in its series which first started almost two decades ago that revolves on agent Ethan Hunt whom has to perform many daring actions to solve cases. The first three movies were way back many years ago, and as far as I can remember, those are great movies. The fourth one, ‘Ghost Protocol’ is for me, the best of the series so far.

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After watching this latest ‘Rogue Nation’ movie, I can say it’s second or third best of the franchise while ‘Ghost Protocol’ remains my most favourite. Second or third best doesn’t mean it is not good. It currently enjoyed very fairly positive ratings and I’m bound to rate the same. In this fifth movie, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) with his team has to eradicate the Syndicate, an international rogue organization formed to destroy their Impossible Mission Force (IMF) organization. The film starred Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Ferguson, Ving Rhames, Sean Harris, etc.

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I was quite excited in the beginning as the movie is already commenced with Tom Cruise hanging outside the flying plane. Wow…and I was further thrilled when an aerial view of my city, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) is shown in a shot (few seconds only) at the beginning of the movie where one of Ethan’s teammate has to fix a signal issue on top of KL Tower. I was hoping for more from the plane scene but it doesn’t contain any further stunts besides than just having Tom Cruise outside the plane (and he get into it and flies out with bombs). But I have to really commend Tom Cruise’s courage to film that scene in real, just with a safety belt that is erased in the final cut for the movie. Safe or not safe, I won’t do that, but Tom Cruise did it. He is really a good and a real action star in Hollywood. On the other hand, I was also hoping for more scenes in my country, but nope…KL only exists in the movie for a two-second quick unnoticeable shot. Hmm…a bit disappointed.

But that doesn’t really ruin my mood to look forward as the story progresses. However, I find it a bit hard to follow the details as the story development goes more and more deeper. It’s slightly complicated for me to digest. I’m actually not really happy with the plot element for the Syndicate. It does nothing besides than having few members (weak and easily defeated by Ethan), and only knows how to manipulate Ethan and the girl to do works for them. They have no big evil plans and the whole Syndicate thing is weak. I’ll just put that aside and focus on the actions.

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Fortunately, the movie still delivered on some fantastic stunts and action sequences. Tom Cruise nailed the challenges. Despite being in the age of 50s, he is still great in this role that requires the most energy and courage out of him. However, the actions here especially in the final part are not dramatic or intense enough to put me at the edge of my seat. ‘Ghost Protocol’ is still better in this. The other cast did very well, and I’m glad that Simon is given heavier role here. He is also the one delivering the humorous parts of the movie most of the time. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’ a total of 7.4. Still interesting but not as exciting as its predecessor. On the other hand, I still have ‘Spectre’, the latest James Bond movie due to be out later this year.

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