My Facebook home page is suddenly being flooded with many reacting to the one breaking news today. I was shocked to learn that Stephen Hawking has passed away today at the age of 76. Born on 8th January 1942 in Oxford, Oxfordshire, Stephen Hawking emerged successful in the world of science and achieved world recognition despite his struggle with ALS disease.
Hmm…I’m up to some horror movies recently. Well, it is the Hungry Ghost Festival now and it further sets the mood to watch some scary movies in these weeks.
‘Annabelle: Creation’ is a supernatural horror film that acts as a prequel to 2014’s ‘Annabelle’ movie and is the fourth installment in ‘The Conjuring’ film series. Remember the freaky Annabelle doll from the first ‘The Conjuring’ movie? The real doll (by now, you should already know that there is really a true story behind the doll) actually looks much more friendlier but of course for a horror movie purpose, a new doll with scary features has to be created. And then, it became so popular that it has its own stand-alone movie. And that’s not enough. Now, we have a prequel to that stand-alone film that drives from another film. And after the success of ‘The Conjuring 2’ as well, we will have a new stand-alone movie for that creepy nun too, soon (next year).
Let’s get back to the movie. It tells the story of a family who has its one and only daughter killed in a freak traffic accident. After that, the couple experienced strange things in the house and they assumed it was their daughter. But it’s not; it’s a demon craving for some horror and manifest itself in a doll. Several years later, the couple welcomed a group of girls and a nun to their house and the demon resurfaces to haunt and possess the children. This movie is slightly better than 2014’s Annabelle. The doll itself is still very creepy eventhough I have seen it many times by now. However, I find that this film series now is showing more and more of the demon’s feature (a black figure with horns?) and that somehow didn’t quite make it that scary anymore for me. Too much have been shown. The intense horrific and heart-stopping atmosphere has been toned down in my personal opinion. However, I am still impressed by some scary scenes or old school tactics used in the movie. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Annabelle: Creation’ a total of 7.2. I also like that the ending of this movie links to the starting scene of 2014’s Annabelle for a sort of continuity.
Next horror movie I have just watched is ‘It’. What a name. Just ‘it’. That ‘it’ refers to a clown called Pennywise. It is a supernatural horror film based on a novel by Stephen King and tells the story of a group of 7 children in Derry who are terrorized by the eponymous being, mostly in the form of a clown. First of all, I have to say I hate clowns. There’s the irony. Clown is created to entertain kids, but they turned out scaring them, and that’s the point for this movie (and also for several other movies in the past too). The movie delivered an effective horror outcome but it didn’t quite scare me. But if a kid is watching this, I’m sure he or she will be very terrified. It just didn’t work out for adults.
However, I still have to compliment the movie for being very effective as said earlier. The story is straight to the point, fast-paced, and covered a lot on these characters of innocent kids. These kids gave a very good performance in this movie. Another extra point to the movie is for its emotional grasp. I do felt the friendship between these kids and the sadness of one of them for losing his younger brother and his dedication to find him. However, this movie also sends out a bad message; implying that fat boy will not get the girl while a handsome one will. You will know once you have watched this movie. There is also some unexpected funny scenes throughout the movie. The clown is creepy and without any background knowledge of this story, I would say that it is all just the fear in the mind of these kids (the clown isn’t real?). Out of 10 points, I rate ‘It’ a total of 7.8. Now, this is just Chapter One as revealed at the end of the movie and I’m looking forward to Chapter Two which is going to be set 27 years later when they all turned into adults (of course will have older cast to replace them for those characters). This movie is safe for adults. Warning: just don’t bring kids to watch this. It is going to be a hell for them.
Let’s not talk about the horror stuff anymore. There’s a good news, and it’s about ‘Despicable Me 3’, an animated movie released few months back. The movie became the 31st movie in the history to gross over US$ 1 billion in worldwide box office. The achievement is accomplished as this week ends. It is now the 6th highest grossing animated film of all time and also the 3rd highest grossing film in 2017. That’s impressive. It is a good news to this movie as it will be out of the worldwide theatres very soon and yet it managed to cross the milestone and join the 1-billion club.
(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)
‘The Theory of Everything’ is a 2014 British biographical romantic drama film directed by James Marsh and written by Anthony McCarten. The film was inspired by the memoir ‘Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen’ by Jane Wilde Hawking, which deals with her relationship with her ex-husband theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, his diagnosis of motor neuron disease, and his success in physics. This biopic on Stephen Hawking starred Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Charlie Cox, Maxine Peake, David Thewlis, etc.
I first get to know of this film when people started sharing its trailer not long ago and everyone is already like praising and talking good about it. The trailer looks promising and since then, I have already sensed Oscar buzz for it. And after watching its two-hour film, I can say that this biopic is excellent, and is on the right track to Oscar glory early next year. Even if it couldn’t perform well in Academy Awards, it may still shines well in BAFTA.
This film is a good and a solid platform for me to know better on the life and challenges Stephen Hawking and his first wife had. The plot had successfully delivered that without being feeling empty or shallow. It also didn’t go over the top and stays with the flow for a moving and a touching 2-hour experience watching the film. To be honest with you, there should be nothing much dramatic, exciting or interesting for this kind of film, but it still captures my attention and my emotion very well.
Besides than the good direction, screenplay and cinematography, I believe the most praise for the film still goes to the acting. Eddie Redmayne contributed an extraordinary performance to this extraordinary true-life character as Stephen Hawking. It’s a very challenging role, and he nailed it with his superb tackling of his facial expressions, body movements, and speaking gestures. It comes to no question that his performance in there is more than enough to be called Oscar-worthy in Best Leading Actor race. On the other hand, Felicity Jones whom acted as his first wife, Jane in the film did exceptionally amazing too. The others (supporting casts) are also great. It’s all top-notch acting in this particular film especially from the strength of the two leads highlighted earlier.
There is also those great musical scores for the film that elevates all the feelings for us to be more immersed into the story. Simply wonderful. Its production values are also to be complimented. The movie about Stephen Hawking obviously could not run away from showing some science stuff and crazy equations. But fortunately, the movie didn’t go too much in this as we (normal audiences, not physicist or cosmologist) could not really understand the depth of those science. But the movie still has that ‘science’ to stay true to Hawking’s profession. Generally, the film did amazing in almost all the aspects I can think of for now. It stays simple and humble but it turns out astonishing, moving and inspirational. Definitely one of the best films this year. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Theory of Everything’ a total of 8.0.
(Images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)
Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons is an action comedy film directed by Stephen Chow and Derek Kok which is loosely based on re-interpretation of popular Chinese novel ‘Journey to the West’. I missed out this movie at the time when it was released during Chinese New Year few months ago. Finally, I got to watch it, but it’s in Mandarin version. Anyway, I can still understand mostly what they are talking about.
This is one of Stephen Chow’s major project after CJ7. However, for this film, Stephen Chow decided not to act in this one, but rather staying off screen for directing effort which he did mostly to his recent films. This ‘Journey to the West’ also had a very successful box office record particularly in mainland China on which it is very well received. But after watching this film yesterday, I don’t think this is great. And I’m sure it’s not one of Stephen Chow’s masterpiece too compared to his previous classic comedy works.
Yes, this film is quite entertaining. I like the beginning part where there’s a village threatened by a dangerous demon-possessed monster within the lake that introduces us to the main characters and indicates to us what the movie would be all about later on; demon-hunting. In the first part, there is quite a suspense and few notable comedic moments expected since this is a work by Stephen Chow eventhough he is not literally in the film. But then, as the story progresses to the clan of Duan (by Shu Qi) and the part involving Sun Wu Kong (the Monkey King by Huang Bo) in the later part of the film, everything gets dull and boring already. It started out very well, but goes downhill till the end.
That is quite disappointing. And then, I find there is too much emphasis on CGI effects. I believed a lot of money is put into it, but it didn’t turn out to be in excellent quality either. Some parts even look like the visual effects are made cheaply. Luckily, there is still Shu Qi that save the day. I find there is a certain magic in her that makes people to like to see her in films. Wen Zhang, a mainland actor also did very well as Tang Sanzang. Good selection of casts, but poor script and lack of comedy which I’m very expecting from Stephen Chow’s work. There isn’t much hilarious scenes from this one. I expected it to be much funnier and interesting but in reality, it’s not. I prefer this film to have Stephen Chow as part of the casts. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons’ a total of 6.7.
Last but not least, I find that Stephen Chow doesn’t like to be on screen in his recent films already. How come? But nowadays, he looks so much older already with a lot of white hairs visible. We are missing his appearance in movies. I can still remember his many notable classic comedy films; Fight Back to School franchise, God of Gamblers 2, Forbidden City Cop, Justice My Foot, Flirting Scholar, God of Cookery, Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle, CJ7. Still looking forward to his future projects too eventhough this ‘Journey to the West’ isn’t that great.
(All images in this post are from various sources throughout the world wide web)
I have been missing the old Hong Kong comedy films lately. I’m having a lot of free time nowadays, and I started to search YouTube for some Hong Kong comedy films way back in 90s. Luckily, YouTube didn’t delete old Chinese movies. Stephen Chow must be the one for comedy films, and I always like his extremely hilarious performance in all of the movies he starred in. He is no doubt the King of Comedy.
Stephen Chow is now almost 50 years old. He is now seen more of directing internationally-targeted films that are no more as comedic as the ones he starred in two decades ago. Too bad, his latest films with also involvement with Hollywood, are a bit of failure. I suggest he just went back to his illogical, no-sense comedic features which he is extremely expert in for a much more successful outcomes and response from the public, without the need of reaching to international appeal.
Looking back at his movies in 90s, he was seen in at least two to three movies every year! That is a very active participation record from him, which contributed much to the success of Hong Kong comedy films. His movies in 90s are mainly low-budget, because all it needs for those movies to achieve critical acclaim is the funny features delivered. Some of his more famous films that attracted worldwide recognition is The Tricky Master, Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle and CJ7.
However, I didn’t watch these films again, because these are still fresh in my memory. What I watched this few days are his other not-so-famous movies but are still extremely funny enough to make my days more entertaining and less boring. Those films I have watched these few days are the three installments of Fight Back to School, The God of Cookery, Sixty Million Dollar Man, The Magnificent Scoundrels, and All for the Winner. His collaboration with Ng Man Tat in many films makes everything much funnier.
How much do you remember from his ‘mo-lei-tau’ features in his films? Those are his talent, and that turns him into one of the most successful and famous Hong Kong male stars. Too bad, he is old now (turning 50 this year), and it seems that he has turned away to another direction in filming, by becoming not the actor, but mostly director and scriptwriter. There is no more ‘mo-lei-tau’ features from his recent films, but his works in the past that bring much fun and laughter to the people of this generation would be forever remembered.