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Easter joy for ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (2017) as the movie surpassed 1-billion dollar in worldwide box office. Also movie review for ‘The Fate of the Furious’ and ‘The Boss Baby’ (2017).

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2017 by vincentloy

First of all, Happy Good Friday and Easter to those who are celebrating! This year’s Easter has been a joyous moment particularly for the movie ‘Beauty and the Beast’ as it has recently grossed over US$ 1 billion in worldwide box office. This live-action remake of the original 1991 animated movie that starred Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Stanley Tucci, Emma Thompson, etc has become the 29th film in history to cross over the 1-billion milestone. The movie has exceeded expectation in the box office and is also gaining positive reception from critics. It is the first 2017 film to cross that mark and soon, there will be another movie this year joining that prestigious list. And that will be ‘The Fate of the Furious’ which is the 8th film in the popular ‘Fast and Furious’ film series. Besides than being currently the highest grossing film of the year, ‘Beauty and the Beast’ also accomplished another record by being the highest grossing live-action musical film ever.

‘The Fate of the Furious’ sees the return of original cast as well as some new members. This movie reminded me again of the death of Paul Walker several years ago, an actor who has been crucial in this film series but died in a car accident. The previous ‘Furious 7’ film concluded with high note and touching ending and is the first of the film series to gain over US$ 1 billion in worldwide box office. Hence, I’m expecting this 8th film to cross that milestone too. Back to this latest movie. It tells about an arrival of a mysterious woman who seduces Dom (Vin Diesel) into the world of terrorism and a betrayal to those closest to him. The movie starred Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson, Charlize Theron, Luke Evans, etc.

Similarly to the previous movie, this film delivered with some intense, over the top and exhilarating action scenes in a scale that no one has foreseen. Cars raining down to the street and a huge submarine chasing a group of cars and a tank. This film series started with some humble car racing moments to extensive gun fights and attacks of high proportion we saw in recent movies. It is going big. Despite it is already being the 8th film, I find every film has its refreshing storyline and different outtake on its action sequences. I also noticed that Hollywood takes on this approach to find Oscar-winning cool-looking actresses to portray villain in big-budget movies nowadays. Charlize Theron as the villain in this movie and then soon Cate Blanchett will be the villain in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ which will be coming out end of this year. There are some hilarious parts to balance things out (and also some adorable moments from a baby). Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Fate of the Furious’ a total of 7.6.

Recently, I also watched another much relaxing movie called ‘The Boss Baby’. It is an animated movie about a suit-wearing briefcase-carrying baby who pairs up with his seven-year old brother to stop the dastardly plot of the CEO of Puppy Corporation. It’s funny to see a baby with an adult mindset on a serious mission to stop an evil plot, and he is joined by a brother who wanted him to be out of the family due to diversion of his parents’ attention to the baby. The movie is highly entertaining. Certain flaws and plot-holes in this movie are forgivable too. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Boss Baby’ a total of 7.0.

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

Top 10 Tallest Buildings in the World (as of April 2017)

Posted in Architectural Territory with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 8, 2017 by vincentloy

The two cities that witness the birth of skyscrapers are Chicago and New York City in United States. That was over a hundred years ago after the introduction of steel framed construction and passenger elevator that enables buildings to be built much taller. Now in 2017, only one building in United States that is placed within the top 10 tallest buildings in the world currently. The other 9 are generally all located in Asia. Here below is the current top 10 tallest buildings in the world as of April 2017. The list only includes completed buildings and does not include television towers, observation towers, masts, antennas or buildings with very little percentage of habitable floors.

  1. Burj Khalifa, 828 metres, 163 floors, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (completed in 2010).

2. Shanghai Tower, 632 metres, 128 floors, Shanghai, China (completed in 2015).

3. Makkah Royal Clock Tower, 601 metres, 120 floors, Mecca, Saudi Arabia (completed in 2012).

4. Ping An Finance Center, 599 metres, 115 floors, Shenzhen, China (completed in 2017).

5. Lotte World Tower, 555 metres, 123 floors, Seoul, South Korea (completed in 2017).

6. One World Trade Center, 541 metres, 104 floors, New York City, United States (completed in 2014).

7. Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre, 530 metres, 111 floors, Guangzhou, China (completed in 2016).

8. Taipei 101, 508 metres, 101 floors, Taipei, Taiwan (completed in 2004).

9. Shanghai World Financial Center, 492 metres, 101 floors, Shanghai, China (completed in 2008).

10. International Commerce Centre, 484 metres, 108 floors, Hong Kong, China (completed in 2010).

This list will change drastically from year to year due to rapid increase of construction of supertall skyscrapers in the world in recent decade. More and more new buildings are reaching further to the sky. Out of the current top 10 tallest buildings in the world, half of them are in China (this doesn’t even include Taipei 101 in Taiwan). 8 of them soar above 500 metres in height respectively too. Also noted is that every buildings in this top 10 tallest list has over 100 floors respectively. The tallest in the world, Burj Khalifa has been on the top of the list for over 7 years now. By 2020, it is expected to be defeated by Kingdom Tower, a skyscraper currently under construction in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. That tower is projected to soar above 1000 metres (1 km!) when completed in 2020.

The oldest supertall in this list is Taipei 101 which is only 13 years old by now as it is built in 2004. More and more new buildings are joining the list with two newcomers this year; Ping An Finance Center and Lotte World Tower at No.4 and No.5 placing respectively. Former world’s tallest buildings and still the current world’s tallest twin buildings, the Petronas Twin Towers are kicked out of the top 10 list this year as they are now placed at No.11 (and 12) with height of 452 metres. Too bad…my home coutry’s famous twin towers are now out of the ranking. Anyway, in few years to come, Malaysia will have another new supertall; PNB 118 Tower that will certainly join this top 10 list with a height of over 600 metres.

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

Winners for the 89th Academy Awards (2017)

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2017 by vincentloy

The 89th Academy Awards finally took place just now, ending the awards season for 2016 films. Here below is the full list of nominees with the winner in each categories highlighted in bold. I put in my opinion on most of the categories too.

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BEST PICTURE
Arrival
Fences
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Moonlight

Opinion: A huge mistake in the ceremony when ‘La La Land’ is first announced as the winner. It turned out that ‘Moonlight’ is the winner. I prefer to just stay with the mistake and have ‘La La Land’ winning this.

BEST DIRECTOR
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight

Opinion: An expected outcome. Damien Chazelle is a young director with huge talent, particularly in movies related to music. I first heard of his name from his writing in ‘Whiplash’ movie. He is now the youngest director to win the Academy Award at age of 32.

BEST ACTOR
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

Opinion: Pleased for Casey to win. He is great in ‘Manchester by the Sea’. There is a moment when I’m afraid that Denzel may win this. But hey…great performance not necessarily translates to loudest performance. It is incredibly challenging to put on a very subtle yet strong expression in the acting. And Casey Affleck did that in ‘Manchester by the Sea’.

BEST ACTRESS
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Opinion: Natalie Portman isn’t even present in the ceremony. She knew her chance is very little, but in my mind, I’m still hoping she win this for her extraordinary performance in ‘Jackie’. Now, as expected, Emma Stone won. She is a wonderful person but I don’t think her performance in ‘La La Land’ is the strongest among the 5 nominees.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Opinion: Didn’t watch ‘Moonlight’ but it was a predictable result. Mahershala Ali has been taking a lot of major precursor awards before this. However, I prefer Dev Patel to win this actually as I’m very amazed by his emotional performance in ‘Lion’.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Opinion: I guess everyone would protest if Viola didn’t win this. I didn’t watch ‘Fences’ but I heard that she was exceptional in that movie and some even thought she should be in lead category. Besides than her, I’m rooting for Michelle Williams to win actually.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Hell or High Water
La La Land
The Lobster
Manchester by the Sea
20th Century Women

Opinion: A very unique and depressing story. But for me, that script for ‘Manchester by the Sea’ is not dramatic enough.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
Arrival
Fences
Hidden Figures
Lion
Moonlight

Opinion: I didn’t watch ‘Moonlight’. Hence, my preferred choices would be ‘Hidden Figures’, ‘Arrival’ or ‘Lion’.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Arrival
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Silence

Opinion: Yup…great cinematography in ‘La La Land’. The colours and lighting in ‘La La Land’ amplified the beauty of the whole movie.

BEST FILM EDITING
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
La La Land
Moonlight

Opinion: Didn’t see this coming, More love for ‘Hacksaw Ridge’. ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ is in third place behind ‘La La Land’ and ‘Arrival’ in my opinion.

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Deepwater Horizon
Doctor Strange
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Opinion: Already expected. All that came from the breathtaking scenery and realistic looking animals that can talk in the movie.

BEST PRODUCTION DESIGN
Arrival
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Hail, Caesar!
La La Land
Passengers

Opinion: ‘La La Land’ is great, but not in its production design. It was just colourful in some short scenes, and that’s it. They are without much effort like the other nominees.

BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Allied
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Florence Foster Jenkins
Jackie
La La Land

Opinion: I thought ‘Jackie’ would win this as the sole Oscar for the movie. ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ sneaked in successfully. Everything in ‘Fantastic Beasts’ are good, but not eye-catchy or ‘fantastic’ enough including its costumes.

BEST MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING
A Man Called Ove
Star Trek Beyond
Suicide Squad

Opinion: Oh…’Suicide Squad’ winning an Oscar. Eventhough the movie is generally bad, but its makeup and hairstyling is cool. The Academy should expand this too to 5 nominees like all the other categories.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Jackie
La La Land
Lion
Moonlight
Passengers

Opinion: Very well deserved. ‘La La Land’ truly excels in its score. Very appealing and beautiful musical score that still makes me humming to its music now.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” La La Land
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” Trolls
“City of Stars,” La La Land
“The Empty Chair,” Jim: The James Foley Story
“How Far I’ll Go,” Moana

Opinion: A short yet beautiful song. Another well deserved win for ‘La La Land’. It’s almost impossible to see a great musical film like ‘La La Land’ not winning this.

BEST SOUND EDITING
Arrival
Deepwater Horizon
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Sully

Opinion: Good to know ‘Arrival’ is not left out. Its sound editing especially from the aliens in the movie is cool and really feels ‘out of the world’.

BEST SOUND MIXING
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Opinion: I’m glad that ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ win something. It is really a good movie and for a war movie like this one, the sound work is to be loud and significant. ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ nailed that and totally deserves this award.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle
Zootopia

Opinion: NO! A BIG NO! ‘Zootopia’ is just an average animated movie with a theme that is politically-related and at the right timing. Nothing else. ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ is a much better animated movie in nearly all aspects. The ceremony this year is too politically charged. Hollywood should just stick to its business and stay out of politics for a while.

BEST DOCUMENTARY
Fire at Sea
I Am Not Your Negro
Life, Animated
O.J.: Made in America
13th

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Land of Mine
A Man Called Ove
The Salesman
Tanna
Toni Erdmann

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT
Extremis
4.1 Miles
Joe’s Violin
Watani: My Homeland
The White Helmets

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT
Ennemis Entreniers
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights
Sing
Timecode

BEST ANIMATED SHORT
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes
Pearl
Piper

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‘La La Land’ is the biggest winner with 6 wins while ‘Moonlight’ won the coveted Best Picture. Some great movies that are totally snubbed are ‘Hidden Figures’, ‘Lion’ and ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’. These films at least deserve an award each.

Jimmy Kimmel is doing a good job hosting the ceremony that took nearly 4 hours. I do laughed at most of his hilarious and on-point lines. Seeing Jackie Chan along with three other honorees getting a standing ovation from the audiences is awesome as the received Life Achievement Awards not long ago in the Academy’s Governors Ball.  It’s also interesting to see the unknown tourists getting into the Dolby Theatre with the ceremony happening (don’t know whether that is a staged event or not). Snacks dropping from the ceiling is a fresh, functional and hilarious act to the lengthy ceremony (I laughed when Jimmy Kimmel said ‘now, release the coffee’…haha). As for the speeches, I’m fed up with the excessive politically-charged statements in the ceremony. Like I said earlier, the Academy should just stays out of politic for a moment and sticks to its business. This went overboard. The Oscars is not a platform for you to voice out your dissatisfaction to the government. You can do it, but not this much until I find that it affects the real judgement of some winners this year.

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

3 major potential upsets tomorrow at the Oscars.

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 25, 2017 by vincentloy

The 89th Academy Awards is finally just around the corner. It will take place tomorrow and to watch it live, I have to purposely wake up early on Monday morning (time difference). Fortunately, I don’t have any class to attend on Monday for this semester. I have been staying closely with the awards season this year and it gets more exciting day by day as the Oscars gets nearer. I had in the past posted the full nomination list of this coming Academy Awards alongside my predictions on who should and who will win on that evening.

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Just a day before the ceremony, I’m here to write on 3 major potential upsets that may happen tomorrow in the Oscars.

First one would be ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ winning the Best Animated Feature over the frontrunner, ‘Zootopia’. ‘Zootopia’ has been leading the race in this category ever since with wins in many precursor awards including some major ones like Annie Awards, Golden Globe Awards and Critics’ Choice Awards. However, do not look down on ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ that has been in the second place to many people’s predictions in winning the best animated film. The movie has also won multiple precursor awards including the BAFTA which is a strong indicator of Oscar winner in animated film category. I myself love ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ much more than ‘Zootopia’ and I would love it if it really takes home the award tomorrow. In my opinion, it has a much more better story, better visual, better style, better characters, better animations, and better effort than ‘Zootopia’ and the remaining three other nominees; ‘Moana’, ‘The Red Turtle’ and ‘My Life as a Zucchini’. I would love this upset to happen. It’s time to reward Laika, the production company behind this work. Their past works are three also great stop-motion animated films (all were nominated but didn’t win); ‘Coraline’, ‘Paranorman’ and ‘Boxtrolls’.

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Next major upset will be in Best Actress category. The frontrunner now is Emma Stone from her wonderful performance in ‘La La Land’, a film that has been getting a lot of love as shown from the 14 nominations it gets in this Academy Awards. She has won best actress in Golden Globes (musical and comedy), Screen Actor Guild and BAFTA. She is great in that movie. However, her performance is not the strongest compared to the other nominees in this category. It is very obvious. People are just voting her because it is Emma Stone and she is likable, and is not voting based on performance in the film. I would like to see Natalie Portman to win this as a major surprise of the evening. Her performance as Jackie Kennedy in ‘Jackie’ is tremendously good. People just think that it is too fast to award her the second Oscar since she won it few years back from her performance in ‘Black Swan’. Hey…stop that mentality. If she deserves it, then she deserves it..no matter how many she has won before. Another ‘dark horse’ contender will be Isabelle Hupert from ‘Elle’. Deep down in my heart, I still think Natalie has a shot at it because Academy usually loves people who acts as a real-life historical figure and Natalie nailed that role effectively and with a lot of effort. Seen as the early favourite as Natalie won best actress at the Critics Choice, her momentum went downward because the movie ‘Jackie’ is not getting a lot of attention unfortunately.

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The last major potential upset I foresee is in best supporting actor. Currently, Mahershala Ali is the one to beat from his performance in ‘Moonlight’. I didn’t see that movie. He has been also sweeping many precursor awards and hence many see him as a lock in this category, up until when he lost the award surprisingly in Golden Globes (to Aaron Taylor-Johnson in ‘Norturnal Animals’) and in BAFTA (to Dev Patel in ‘Lion’). Mahershala is still in the lead position to win supporting actor as he did won at Critics Choice and at Screen Actors Guild. However, Academy usually love to award Best Supporting Actor to someone many didn’t see it coming. Hence, get ready to watch some drama when the name in the envelope tomorrow is not stating ‘Mahershala Ali’. I’m thinking that all the other nominees has a chance for it except Lucas Hedges since he is too young for it, and I’m wishing for Dev Patel to win it. It’s because I watched ‘Lion’ and I’m amazed by his performance in there.

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These are my last opinions before the Academy Awards tomorrow. What do you think? My biggest wish is still to see ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ winning Best Animated Feature. It totally deserves it way more than the others. ‘Zootopia’ has the edge just because of its right timing to the current political situation in USA. It’s just an ordinary animated film, and no where near the excellence delivered by ‘Kubo and the Two Strings’ in nearly all aspects.

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

 

‘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.

Posted in Explosive News and Results with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2017 by vincentloy

‘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)

 

Movie reviews for ‘The Great Wall’ and ‘Passengers’ (2016)

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , on January 6, 2017 by vincentloy

I’m now still writing movie reviews for 2016 films because there are quite a number of 2016 films that I haven’t watch but eager to do so. So, I’m not done yet with 2016 films especially at this time when I haven’t get to watch any Oscar-bait films in 2016 yet like ‘Arrival’, ‘Jackie’, ‘La La Land’, ‘Manchester by the Sea’, etc. I don’t have the chance to watch them yet and for right now, it’s movie reviews for ‘The Great Wall’ (2016) and ‘Passengers’ (2016) first.

‘The Great Wall’ is a fiction action-adventure monster film about a Western man going to the East in search of black powder. He ended up becoming a hero among the Chinese warriors at the Great Wall of China built as a defense against attacking monster creatures. Directed by Zhang Yimou, the movie starred Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau, Jing Tian, Eddie Peng, etc. The movie received criticism with many complaining why is a Western man interfering into a story of deep Chinese history and legend and the issue of ‘whitewashing’ came out again. Well, I disagree with the criticism. It’s just a movie made for entertainment. Why take it so seriously? It’s meant purely as a fiction. I can do anything to the story as long as it looks good and appeals to all people from East to West. There is nothing wrong having a plot about a Western man coming to China with story to follow. And then there’s another bunch of people saying that this is a joke of having the movie showing the Great Wall built to defend against creatures which is of course against the real history. This is a FICTIONAL story. How many times they need  to be told about this again and again?

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Let’s get back to the movie. Ignore those pointless criticism and you will be enjoying the movie like me. I’m surprised that this movie get down to the business very fast. The pace for the story is quick and you are immediately brought to massive battle scene at the Great Wall. I even felt that the movie is a bit too short. The visual effects are good (those scenery at the Great Wall were breathtaking especially in a scene when many sky lanterns were brought up to the sky) but still there’s room for improvement (still couldn’t match Hollywood level). The costumes are exaggerated and are disturbing. The ending was not bad but I find it a bit rushed to end the movie. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘The Great Wall’ a total of 7.0. A good effort by Zhang Yimou to break into Western cinemas.

‘Passengers’ is an American science-fiction adventure film about a malfunctioned hibernation pod that has woken up a man 90 years earlier of the trip in a spacecraft of 5000 passengers to a distant colony planet. Feeling alone, he then waken up another passenger, a female he likes, in an action that he felt bad because it will cause the female passenger to die with him before reaching the destined planet. The movie directed by Morten Tyldum, starred Chris Pratt, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Sheen and Laurence Fishburne. Yes, only four cast to carry the whole movie.

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The story is very interesting. I’m amazed by how they can still create another brilliant story in outer-space setting when in the past, they already did many of them. Very engaging plot and good pacing of the story development. The chemistry between Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence is awesome, and not to mention excellent performances by both of them. From their expressions, you immediately feel what it is like to be them, trapped in the spacecraft with plenty of space and time but couldn’t do anything else. The visuals are fantastic, and the scores are amazing. The climax is quite intense and heart-stopping and seeing Chris alive after the mission to rescue the spacecraft and Jennifer chose to stay with him is a huge relief and a happy ending. Out of 10 points, I rate ‘Passengers’ a total of 7.8. It’s a fun and exciting mix of sci-fi and romance. I don’t get why it gets low critics’ ratings out there. It’s seriously a good movie.

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

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

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2016 by vincentloy

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)