Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 movie list;

a list that lists down the movies that I want to see in 2018.

Since these are all tentpole movies, I'm not gonna link to the YouTube trailers as I'm feeling a bit lazeballs today.

  1. Black Panther - February 16th
  2. Avengers: Infinity War - May 4th
  3. Solo: A Star Wars Story - May 25th
  4. Deadpool 2 - June 1st
  5. Ant-man and the Wasp - July 6th
  6. Venom - October 5th
  7. X-Men: Dark Phoenix - November 2nd
  8. Bumblebee - December 21st
  9. Aquaman - December 21st
Not many movies this year 😐

On the bright side, this means I can catch up on allllllllllllll of the movies I haven't been blogging about for the past two years, and also the further backlog ones from before 2015. Woot!

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Happy New Year 2018!

This by right should be the first post for 2018, but I guess my love for Star Wars was too much ❤

May the coming year be grand for all, and hopefully fly past faster so that we can get to Episode 9 quicker.

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So. Watched the Last Jedi two more times (spoilerrific)

The beauty of multiple viewings in a short period of time is that - since I already know what's gonna happen, I can pay more attention to the little (or maybe big, but other) details that escaped me the first time (14/12).

My second viewing (20/12) had a going-through-the-motions kind of feel, but I suppose it was because the initial euphoria had worn off a bit and my memory of the movie was still fresh (after all, only one week after).

Third time's the charm (today - 31/12), though - I enjoyed it more this time around, but I was also able to nitpick a lot during my viewing of it. It's a very weird mind combination, that I could poke holes in their narrative and yet still greatly enjoy the movie.

Anyways, my renewed thoughts (too much happened in the first viewing), and a few other nitpicksthings I noticed:

  • In addition to "broken blue lightsaber" in my previous post, Luke's footwork while facing down Kylo Ren does nothing to the Crait soil. And they even blatantly first showed Kylo Ren’s footwork (he made scuffs to the salt - revealing red soil beneath), then showing Luke's footwork WHICH DOESN'T MESS UP THE SOIL BECAUSE HE'S NOT ACTUALLY ON CRAIT AND IT’S JUST IN PLAIN SIGHT FOR THE AUDIENCE TO SEE.

    Initially I had put it down to - Kylo Ren being impetuous and volatile vs Luke's calm and collected demeanour (you know, student vs master).

  • The Resistance bombers weren’t even taken out by a crashing out-of-control TIE Fighter, but debris. DEBRIS. Aren’t bombers supposed to be high in defense as they have very little offense (except for the payload)?

    How is it that they're able to open the hatches to drop the payload but not get sucked out into space? The bombers look very lean and so I don't think there's a separate area in which the people can be at, without being sucked into space.

    Why did the bombers all look as gritty rickety as ships did in Rogue One? It's supposed to be like 30 years on. The Resistance needs to change their armaments supplier, particularly to one who builds more powerful shields for bombers.

  • I only noticed now that they showed Poe opening the door to let Space Leia in. Erm. Airlock much?

  • Only in Star Wars do I find that the music is just as integral as telling the story as is the actors. My favourite piece of new music (which isn't exactly new, but it IS newer than the rest) in this movie is the one as Luke strides out to face the First Order (a variation of this can also heard in the second trailer). I super love this one. It reminds me of the Imperial March from the original trilogy, but not so evil and imposing and it's decidedly bad-ass once combined with scenes (matching what Luke said in the beginning about facing down the First Order with only a "lasersword").

    An additional quibble from me is that Rose’s theme seems to be a slightly lacklustre version of the Luke's theme. I don't dig it.

  • When Finn and Rose were in Canto Bight, the Fathier race made the entire casino shake (which was what led F&R to go outside and see the Fathiers) and drinks spill on tables/bars. Since the races are common, does this mean that every single time that a race happens, the bar will give complimentary drinks to its patrons, or do the patrons need to pay for another round of drinks, since they wouldn't have gotten their first one due to the shaking?

  • When Luke toppled off his seat and looked at the sun, I double-checked and there IS still a speck in the sun which seems too small to be a cloud. I did not mis-see.

  • I went from thinking that the Rey-Kylo Ren lightsaber battle was clunky, to thinking that it wasn't clunky, and then back to clunky again. I don't know why, but I feel there's a certain fluidity missing from this as compared to previous lightsaber battles (but then again, previous lightsaber battles are a bit more generically choreographed than this one).

    Oh, and I finally caught sight of that thigh-grab (missed it during my second time, too).

  • I think Prince William and Prince Harry were the stormtroopers who were about to execute Finn and Rose.

    Or maybe they're the ones that held the handcuffs to cuff Rey when she first got on Snoke's Destroyer.

    Or any other pair of stormtroopers, I'unno.

  • How is it that Kylo Ren could hold the dice and see it disappear, when Luke died like, 15 minutes earlier, when Rey was still ushering people into the Millenium Falcon? Wouldn't the dice have disappeared along with Luke as well?

  • Towards the end of the movie, people were referring to themselves as the Rebellion, and no longer the Resistance (e.g., Finn’s “Rebel scum”, and one more instance at the end but I can’t remember who said it). Resisting means defending, but not necessarily taking action. Rebelling means taking action. But from TFA, weren’t the Resistance not doing things? So I’m not really sure whether this is of any significance or not. I don’t quite know if TLJ is just using the words interchangeably, but if not, I have no idea what would bode in the future.

And, saving the best for last – Reylo Kylo Ren:

Tantrums aside, Kylo Ren as a character interested me - like, how did the son of Solo/Skywalker come to idolise Darth Vader, how did he come into contact with Snoke, what is it of Vader’s did he want to finish, etc etc. I was hoping that, in a departure from the original trilogy, there wouldn't be any redemption for the Vader character, despite our seeing his inner Light-Dark tug of war that ended in Han Solo's death.

For TLJ to:
  • further inner conflict courtesy of Rey and the Force-time sessions.

  • show that it was Luke's (of all people) lapse of judgment that sent Ben running off to Snoke, and not a conscious decision that Ben made (I have a quibble on this point, which I'll address separately)
really caught me off-guard because i) never did I think it possible (or even probable!) that Kylo Ren's redemption may come in the form of Rey and that he would actually harbour feelings for her (I didn't see any chemistry / sexual tension in TFA nor do I recall such biz but I've still not gotten the chance to see it post-TLJ though they both totally and most definitely do have the chemistry and tension in TLJ), and ii) this flashback of events instantly made me sympathise with Ben, though personally I would've preferred him to actively turn on Luke and throw in the unprovoked massacre of his fellow Jedi padawans.

But - if it really was "unprovoked massacre", this would mean that Kylo Ren by right shouldn't have any more inner turmoil in him, and that even with Rey, it would be a VERY hard sell (plot-wise and to the audience) that this Han-killer needs and, most importantly, is worthy of redemption.

In this movie, we still see Kylo Ren as unhinged, unstable, and still totally full of rage (so he's I think stage 2 or 3 of becoming a Sith but then again he doesn't want to be a Sith anymore). Adam Driver does an effing amazing job as the conflicted Kylo Ren, and he's one of the reasons why I loved this movie.

And the best thing, I find, about arc is that Rey stands her ground with Kylo Ren (even though she ran into the lion's den in the first place to turn him back to the Light), and doesn't fall in love waver or compromise with Kylo Ren because he appeared shirtless saved her life in the throneroom or that it was Luke's lapse of judgment that finally drove Ben to Snoke or that they are lonely kindred spirits or that she can save him if she herself turns to the Dark side instead.

I've seen this kind of 180⁰ happen in movies before, but I'm very, very glad that this kind of lazy storytelling doesn't happen in this case. She doesn't join him when he asks her to (and instead making a Force-pull for Anakin's lightsaber!), and she closes the door on him after it all ends. "Spunk", indeed.

This Reylo (Rey + Kylo/[Ben]Solo) is currently one-sided, and very much rightfully so. How or whether Kylo's unrequited feelings for Rey (non-believers still, see that scene where he says "please" and how he says it, please) will be met in Episode 9, I don't know. But I do hope that Kylo will be redeemed and for Rey to be the one to do it, and that both he and Rey will have a happy ending together without it being unrealistic and trite.

Disney/Kathleen Kennedy, I'm counting on you to make this so.

Though now that Snoke is gone and Kylo Ren is now puppetmaster (and no longer puppet), I'm excited about how different Episode 9 can be from ROTJ. I really hope all this development between Rey and Kylo Ren doesn’t go to waste (no brother sister please wtf) and gets written off or pushed aside for the conclusion of the trilogy.

And on a lighter note:



***

One of the main reasons why I loved TLJ was this burgeoning relationship between Kylo Ren and Rey, and the additional depth given to Kylo Ren.

But one major complaint I have is the lack of show-and-tell in this age of cinema. All of what happened in the 30 years prior to the sequel should be addressed as much as possible in the main trilogy (I do acknowledge the time jump), instead of anthology films (or worse, books / cartoons). I can't believe I'm saying this, but I actually got to understand Kylo Ren / Ben Solo better from the internet(!!), of all places. Force-bonds were apparently explored in the cartoons and the Art of books (which really, should be like behind-the-scenes featurettes - enhance one's understanding and not be expository).

Anyway, “darkness rises, and light to meet it”. Still so so so love this line.

EDIT: I meant to post this on the last day of 2017, but ended up posting at 12am on the first day of 2018. Oh well.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)

With The Force Awakens, so did my writer’s block.

Not to say that TFA was bad. It just made me speechless to the point that I wasn’t able to verbalise how I felt about the movie (and this carried on for two years, and for all other movies I watched from then till now, which was quite a lot).

The Last Jedi broke my block in twain and I’m still not running on empty (it’s been five days).

If you’re looking for a rational-type review analysing how good/bad I thought this movie is, how much sense did the plotline make, how the actors fared, etc., then this is not that review.

This is a review by someone who tremendously enjoyed TLJ, punctuated with all the things she totally loved (and some didn’t-quite-loves) about it, and part of this post eventually descends into ALL CAPS because she still is very excited about the movie and can’t stop fan-girling thinking about it.

*spoilers*

*no really, all spoilers from here on out please don’t read any further*

No movie has ever made me go OMG. Even movies that surprised me in the enjoyment department (like The Avengers) had semi-predictable storylines. I go into comic book movies having a bit of background on the characters (because I love comic books and am surfacely familiar with quite a number of them); I watch a Star Wars movie knowing who the characters are, and being (more than averagely, if I may add) able to see parallels between old and new, and because I love that old drug named nostalgia, my mind goes to overdrive as I watch the movie and I tend to more or less be able to see things coming.

TLJ made me go OMG several times. Very loudly. List below:

  • FIRST OMG – Leia somehow Force(s) herself to fly through space towards the Resistance cruiser so that they could save her!

    I suppose Han is kinda right on this, but it was such a triumphant moment that Leia wasn’t a friggin’ goner (and that Lucasfilms hadn't lied about wanting to give her a bigger role in Ep 9) that in that moment, I was just glad that she managed to save herself.

  • SECOND OMG - KYLO REN OFFS SNOKE! I WAS OMG-ING AT THAT ENTIRE SEQUENCE WHEN THE LIGHTSABER WAS SLOWLY MOVING TOWARDS SNOKE’S BODY!! AND THEN KYLO REN FIGHTS BACK-TO-BACK WITH REY WITH THE PRAETORIAN GUARDS OMG BE STILL MY HEART I REALLY THOUGHT HE’D TURN TO THE LIGHT SIDE BUT ACTUALLY HE STILL IS DARK OMG.

    AS I’M WRITING THIS I JUST REALISED THAT KYLO ASKING REY TO JOIN HIM PARALLELS REVENGE OF THE SITH WHEN ANAKIN ASKS PADME (SOMEONE HE LOVES) TO JOIN HIM AND TOGETHER THEY COULD DEFEAT PALPATINE AND RULE THE GALAXY.

    AND METHINKS KYLO TOTALLY IS INTO REY (a spark has been… awakened) AND I’M TOTALLY SHIPPING THEM AND I HAVE NEVER SHIPPED ANYTHING BEFORE IN MY LIFE.

    no, not even Kylux

    *exhale*

    Sure at this point in TLJ the Palpatine figure is gone, but what brought me to this realisation was the backdrop - throneroom burning up looks very similar to Mustafar red AND I DON’T KNOW IF I’M OVERANALYSING THIS OR IF IT’S INTENTIONAL (knowing me, it is likely the former).

    And in Snoke’s face(!) for trying to stoke Kylo’s inner conflict between Light and Dark by setting Kylo up with Rey continuously bridging his Force connection with Rey. I mean, wait for the guy to put his shirt on before patching the call through, Snoke! They were holding hands next!

    For a guy to monologue keep on going about not being defeatable, he sure didn’t foresee THIS coming (his own death, I mean).

  • THIRD OMG – LUKE ASTRAL PROJECTION FTW!! I WAS HALF EXPECTING HIM TO DISAPPEAR LIKE WHEN VADER RAN KILLED OBI-WAN BUT THEN LUKE WAS STILL THERE AND KYLO REN SLOWLY STICKS HIS LIGHTSABER INTO HIM AND IT TURNS OUT HE WAS USING THE FORCE TO BE THERE!!! AND I GOT ALL EMOTIONAL WHEN HE TOPPLED OFF HIS SEAT BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT HIM TO HAVE EXERTED HIMSELF AND THEN DIE AND THEN WHEN HE LOOKED AT THE SUNS I MISTAKENLY THOUGHT HE SAW A SPECK AND THAT SPECK WOULD BE A FIRST ORDER SHIP SO I PANICKED BUT THEN IT WASN’T AND THEN I WAS RELIEVED AND THEN HE DIED OH ALL THE FEELS.

    Though if Kylo had actually stopped and think about it (instead of being filled with / blinded by rage, as he always is), he would’ve noticed that Luke’s lightsaber is blue, and that would be telling because KYLO AND REY HAD JUST BROKE LUKE’S BLUE LIGHTSABER IN THEIR FORCE TUG OF WAR PREVIOUSLY ON SNOKE’S SHIP.
Other things I loved about the movie:

  • Luke channeling a bit of Yoda in him, when he first taught Rey what the Force was (and he kept smacking her hahaha). Funnily, I can’t seem to remember what the third lesson is. But I’m going to watch the movie again, so I’ll keep a lookout for that.

  • Rey and Kylo communicating via FaceForce-time, and their connection/relationship grew that way. That was completely unexpected, and it was most intriguing (because then they find out more about each other and so do the audience).

  • Admiral Holdo for not being a typical bureaucrat trying to keep things together. When she turned her ship towards the First Order cruisers, I figured she’d go kamikaze on them, but I never thought she’d actually go LIGHTSPEED on them!! So bad-ass.

    Though if her timing was off, she could've gone lightspeed riiiiiiiiiight before her ship rammed into the First Order, and then the suicide run wouldn't have been suicidal at all.

  • Puppet Yoda!

  • The truth about Rey’s parentage. Up till that point the movie was dragging its feet with the reveal (even Kylo Ren in the elevator briefly mentioned her parents but didn’t go any further), and it almost feels like it was done on purpose that I couldn’t help but LOL (yes, I really did LOL at that scene).


  • Rose the mechanic. She’s so adorbz. But I didn’t dig the Canto Bight scenes. I thought it was a bit of a time-waster and that she and Finn had a sojourn there as a roundabout excuse to be able to get on Snoke’s ship and then get caught. And Benicio Del Toro? Totally wasted.
And while we’re on ‘wasted’, Captain Phasma again is wasted. How is it that a stormtrooper so bad-ass that she’s female and six feet tall and chrome can’t be utilised effectively in a movie filled with other moments of bad-assery is totally beyond me.

Also, exposition. Older movies generally showed. Movies in recent memory tend to explain  or tell, like - “she took off in Snoke’s personal escort”? That was said so non-importantly (I’m not blaming Hux it’s just that when Kylo is all seething and pissed you tend to focus on him more) that when I saw her in the Millenium Falcon, I got confused and wondered if I’d missed a scene that showed the Falcon picking her up from Snoke’s ship.

I first noticed this in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, where Harry and his friends would routinely explain things (which in the book, were shown) to each other as they walked from classes, around corners, or down the stairs.

I loved that TLJ blew my mind with several scenes, and I loved how there is a sense (dare I say) of believability about all of it (even though it’s about qi a make-believe energy that flows through all of us and around us). With all the new things introduced, never did it make me pause and think – “no way, that’s ridiculous” (unlike when Anakin’s mom revealed that she had a virgin birth). To me, everything happened very organically, and I didn’t feel that anything was out of place (yes, even Luke’s disillusionment about the Jedi and everything).

With TLJ, I feel that the new trilogy could potentially be a quadrilogy. So much development happened in this movie with Rey and Kylo (and Poe but not much on the Finn side, though), with so much more growth to be seen. Rey needs to grow into a Jedi (and none of that slapdash shortcut that TFA took by making Rey be an utter prodigy at the Force); and Kylo needs to become even darker than he already is, so that when redemption happens (I still have hope for this) it'd have an even more powerful impact to the audience.

For all this to have happened in TLJ, I feel that Ep 9 cannot finish this - it has to be two more movies. By making it into a quadrilogy (officially, please – none of that Part 1 Part 2 junk), Lucasfilms (and Disney) would make sure that things end properly. And please don’t detract from the main trilogy by promising to explain things in the anthology films, like how Rogue One became highly necessary to explain out how the serious flaw in the Death Star came to be.

And no I’m not saying that because I want Luke to come back as Force Ghost to properly train Rey for an entire movie like Yoda did with him.

It’s a shame that Rian Johnson wouldn’t be writing Episode 9. I would’ve liked to see how he takes Rey and Kylo onward (and to the end), since TLJ is just the middle movie.

Anyway, thus ends my post about TLJ. I will be watching it again later today, so will edit if I feel I need to.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Crimson Peak (2015)

Hearing that this film is more visual style than substance would not have deterred me from the cinemas, but hearing that the storyline is predictable would have (and made me wait for it to come on TV), if not for Tom Hiddleston.

Watching this film was a bit of a fan-girl experience, because Hiddles didn’t make an appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron, which means that the last time I saw him in something ‘new’, was three years ago in The Avengers.

Aside from this, the trailer was random enough that I couldn’t make head or tail, and it piqued my interest enough to want to know what happened without going to Wikipedia.

I guess I could blame my level of expectation on Stephen King. Stephen King had said (six months prior, at previews) that this movie was (and I quote) “fucking terrifying”, and the last time he said something like this was for the 1980s film The Evil Dead.

And everyone knew how that movie turned out, right? As I was telling people, Stephen King is still relevant, he's still putting out books every other year, so to me, there’s no reason I would doubt Stephen King's word on this.

In promos surrounding the movie's opening, the director has been saying (or ‘clarifying’) that the film is a gothic romance with ghosts, rather than a horror movie with romance thrown in.

So it’s not like, ‘buyerviewer beware’, or anything. But despite above ‘warning’ from Guillermo Del Toro, I went in prepared for a romance, but still kinda hoping to get scared shitless (due to Stephen King’s “fucking terrifying” stamp of approval).

Alas, any shitting to be had came from gore rather than actual scares or plot twists. I even managed to guess what the Sharpes were up to even in Act 1. In that sense, I was a bit disappointed in the plot department - I guess I didn’t expect to see it coming so easily.

I'm sure you know the story by now. Young girl becomes enamoured with tall, dark, mysterious stranger, and gets whisked away to his mansion in the middle of nowhere to be with him and his creepy sister. Other creepy things then ensue.

There are some red herrings – Enola Sciotti (or E.S.), I believe, is one, seeing that E.S. could stand for Edith Sharpe or even Eunice Sharpe. Although I’m not sure whether it was meant for Edith to conveniently discover and ask Thomas what Milan is all about. I had the impression that Thomas had a wife originally and her name had begun with E, but in the end his other previous wives had names from letters that weren’t ‘E’.

It’s a bit of a shame, because if you noticed, the central theme of the film was already revealed, mirrored in Edith’s manuscript, and when Thomas beratescriticizes her about it, do note that there are quite many a spoiler in what he said. I thought that was very meta, very cool, and a great foreshadowing of things to come.

And with this, I would’ve preferred the central theme to have been fleshed out more, to see more of what it was of Edith that won Thomas over. There wasn’t really enough of that, and the only scene in which we see something like this is in the one where Thomas goes, “You’re different from the rest”.
It wouldn’t have been easy to strike a balance between both character and plot development, and the rather slow burn of seeing Edith trying to figure out what is going on could have been exchanged with more, well, romance.

Yes, you read right. I am choosing romance over horror. The sap in me is winning this round.

Visually, the movie is gorgeous, and I loved, loved the decrepit, crumbling mansion that is Allerdale Hall. The name ‘Crimson Peak’ comes from the red clay that seeps into the snow during winter. I was reminded a bit of The Shining when our heroine runs out into the snow and tries to defend herself. Luckily, there isn’t much running around – otherwise it’d be a direct copyhomage of The Shining.
Verdict: The movie is very suspenseful; at liberal points in the film I threw my hands up to my eyes (after what happened to Edith’s father), and the ghosts were ghastly enough to make me scrounge my face up and cringe. But I feel the violence and gore are gratuitous, and towards the end there is one unfortunately unintentionally comic scene (and I wasn’t the only one who thought so - my friend cracked up at it). It was the one thing that marred an otherwise intense affair, especially with Lucille all riled up and in crazy banshee mode. I think I would’ve liked the movie more if I hadn’t seen it coming so early in the film.

Still, even Del Toro probably couldn’t bear to harm Hiddles’ cheekbones, eh?

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Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

May 2016 bring you all lots of joy, happiness, and a ton o'fun!! 👍👍🎉🎉

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

(Belated) Merry Christmas!

15 minutes past Christmas day. Hope everyone's had a good one!

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I have reviews for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Crimson Peak, Peanuts and Star friggin' Wars: The Force Awakens! But I've been getting very distracted by work and other things lately. Will post all these by this year (and also some of those backlog reviews ugh).

Edit to include Peanuts. Totally adorbz movie!

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