Saturday, December 25, 2004

Meet The Fockers

Originally Posted On: 25th Dec 2004

If this is a comedy year, then it's gotta be Ben Stiller's year, with films like Starsky and Hutch, Dodgeball, and now, a sequel to the hit Meet The Parents. It's a logical move, given the success to the movie, and a natural continuation to meeting the other set of parents, what more one whose family name sounds so much like an expletive.

The film wastes no time in reminding you why the first was successful, with obvious jabs on the male nursing profession and his Gaylord M Focker name. The first 5 minutes sums up everything you liked about the first film nicely - "I'm Watching You" hand gestures, circle of trust, etc, before embarking on the inane journey to Focker Isle, where things get, a little crazier.

Our favourite characters like the kitty cat are back, and joined with another madcap hump-everything-that-moves doggie. In addition, we have a baby on board who adds a new dimension to innocence.

Although some plot bits are recycled from the first, like the use of hidden cameras by De Niro, and then playbacked for hilarious effect during the end credits, none of it seems contrived and you just wanna sit through and lap all of it up.

Definite must see this holiday season.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Kungfu Hustle

Originally Posted On: 24th Dec 2004

I missed the Stephen Chow movies of old, before his forays into the US Market with Shaolin Soccer and now Kungfu Hustle, where his movies were inane, slapstick and filled with witty dialogue that entirely made no sense.

But don't misread me, I'm not saying that this flick is no good. There are classic Chow moments, but somehow I feel that they ain't enough. The Kungfu and its effects remind you of The Matrix Trilogy, with its bullet time effects, and even Axe Gang members and fight scenes that resemble the Burly Brawl, no surprise though, as the fight choreographer is Yuen Wo Ping.

Character development, like all Chow movies, are zilch and cartoony, and the female lead in this film, although va-va-voom, is classic flower vase material, and she doesn't even say anything, how's that?!

Put your brains at the door and you'll have an entertaining time.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Ocean's Twelve

Originally Posted On: 18th Dec 2004

I got mixed feelings watching the film. It's supposed to be a heist flick, but doesn't feel that way. On the other, it's fun to watch the big name stars hamming it up on screen having a great time.

One of the best parts is when Julia starts to play herself, and the cameo by Bruce Willis as himself is a hoot

Other than that, the heist part is a bit of a let down - if compared to the first film, this one lacked the the sophistication of planning, twists, and the air of confidence, and everything about the heist (more than one) is told in flashbacks.

Not as fresh as Ocean's 11, but Catherine Zeta Jones, yeah she's hot

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Batman Begins Trailer

Originally Posted On: 14th Dec 2004

OK, this is a first trailer review. Well, I'm a Batman fanboy, so I guess this is inevitable.
(There is another teaser trailer released earlier, but that is not covered here)

The minute the trailer was over, I was having bat-orgasm.

Essentially, this trailer can be split into 2 parts, separated with a one line uttered by Ducard (Liam Neeson): Are you ready to begin?

The first part opens with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) undergoing various training by Ducard and the League of Shadows. It also shows the classic scene where Bruce falls into the cave.... all these with Ducard's voiceover on ideals, and to become something more than a man, capped with the one liner above

Then we enter familiar territory where the suit's chamber is opened, and for the first time we see the cowl, followed by Bruce fabricating some bat-darts and spray painting his new suit "borrowed" from WayneTech.

The trailer explodes with various montages of the Bat in action, explosions, car chases (yeah I thought I saw the mean-assed batmobile), which builds into a crescendo, and my favourite part of the trailer, which parallels Tim Burton's first Batman movie:

A thug is seen on screen, cowardly and dripping with fear.
He yells out "WHERE ARE YOU!!!!"
and the camera pulls away to reveal Batman hanging upside down
whispering menacingly


Watch the trailer at the official Batman Begins website now!

Let's see if subsequent trailers feature more key characters, especially the villains, though I suppose Chris Nolan probably wanna keep The Scarecrow as a surprise

Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Phantom Of The Opera

Originally Posted On: 11th Dec 2004

I didn't have the money to watch the musical when it was in Singapore, and missed it when I was in London in August this year (another story, another time)

So when this Andrew Llyod Webber-Joel Schumacher collaboration came along, there's no excuse not to catch it on the silver screen (and at a reasonable price too)

What works in this film are the elaborate sets and costumes you'd come to expect from a Hollywood production (c'mon, in a musical theatre, there're no "outdoor" sets per se). The artistes in this film also manage to pull off the music and singing in this flick (well, I ain't a professional, but was entertained and satisfied). Little spoken dialogue when it could be featured with songs (hey, it's a musical!) Simply wonderful.

I shan't elaborate more on a storyline that most of you will already know. Go catch it if you're into musicals but lack the funds for front row theatre seats. You can't get any "closer" than what you can achieve in movies.

Ever since Moulin Rouge brought about a revival of musicals, am looking forward to see if Llyod Webber would translate more of his works for the big screen.

Blade: Trinity

Originally Posted On: 11th Dec 2004

I admit I haven't watched the first sequel to Blade, but I watched the first, at a time when comic book movies weren't all that popular after Batman and Robin bombed.

However, this film somehow lacks the chic sophisticated feel of the first movie. It does has its moments - good action, cool toys, fabulous chicks, but falls flat somehow, that you've seen it all before, and there's nothing new on offer.

3 things stand out though, not necessarily good:
1. There are a lot of shots of buildings, streets, landscape, in a fast forwarded motion, from day to night.
2. It's great product placement for Apple's Powerbook and iPod. Wonder how much millions it cost for those incredible closeups
3. Lots of creative expletives, in my opinion. Even a reply to the line featured in the trailer ("are you ready to die?") is given the expletive treatment, and the middle finger is one of the first things you'll see too.

The main weakness in the movie is the lack of strong baddies. Drake (the original vampire) has no unique value proposition, except for looking mean, thirst for virgin blood and looks great in his original form with venus fly trap like fangs.

Stay until the end of the credits if you wanna catch a 5 second clip of Blade looking mean and driving his GTO.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

National Treasure

Originally Posted On: 8th Dec 2004

It's been a long time since we last saw a Bruckheimer-Cage vehicle, and this one is as enjoyable as their past collaborations.

For starters, it will appeal to Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code fans, as the narrative is similar - myths and legends, symbols, Freemasons, Knights Templar, etc form the basis of the story. And instead of Robert Langdon, we have Cage's character solving riddles and clues that promisingly and hopefully would lead to treasure (The Sacred Feminine anyone?)

The first half of the movie dwells on the plot to steal the Declaration of Independece. Quite nicely done I must say, before launching into Dan Brown's style of cut action scenes, "Chapter cliffhangers", diving into explanations of clues left behind in the American greenback, the all seeing eye, the unfinished pyramid and the like.

Not as exotic a location setting as it's based in US cities (New York, Philadelphia, Boston got a mention, but hey, it's Hollywood!), as compared to Brown's Langdon novels set in Paris, England, The Vatican, Rome.

This should wet your appetite while waiting for Tom Hanks and perhaps Julie Delphy to emulate something similar.

Not to be missed by Cage fans, Dan Brown fans, and fans of the face that launched a thousand ships, Diane Kruger

Saturday, December 04, 2004


Originally Posted On: 4th Dec 2004

In recent memory, a film by Oliver Stone will naturally attract controversy like bees to honey. Gone were the days when stories were simplier and shorter (Platoon), and nowadays 3 hour bio-epics are norm (JFK, Nixon).

Not that I disagree strongly with the protrayal of Alexander as bisexual - hey, men in those days married and had sex with females only for reproduction of heirs. But having such protrayals rammed down your senses scene after scene, tires you. You have Alexander showing zero interest amongst scantily clab women in tribes conquered (good?), but instead you have him gaze with lust upon nubile pubescent men, and kissing them, and embracing his lover Hephaistion, while exchanging sweet nothings each time they're together in a scene. I reckon if Oliver Stone had his way 100%, we'd see a sex scene or two between them too. But instead we get the obligatory one between Alexander and his Asian bride (oh yeah, it's a woman)

Blame it on Aristotle and his teachings on freedom of love.

What is missed most, I believe, amongst simple people like us, are the scenes of war. When one thinks of Alexander, one thinks of the conquests which he had (which made him The Great, no?). Sadly, this film only features two - one in Persia, and the other in India. Nicely film, with the blood and gore you'd come to expect after films like Gladiator - great costumes, weapons, decapitated limps by blades on chariot wheels, impaled bodies from spears, elephant trunks being cut off, you get the drift.

The rest of the time is spent on politicking, backstabbing, alcohol parties, and an ooh-lala mummy (Jolie rocks) sending notes and warnings and speaks funny. The purpose of these scenes to highlight the rot in his empire, could be brought out better if the pacing is tighter. But they ramble on and on.

Archilles Wannabe. Yeah. Son of Zeus, probably not.

After The Sunset

Originally Posted On: 4th Dec 2004

This is one of those heist movies, but filled with cliches and none of the suspense that draws you into the mastermind's plans on how to successfully pull the heist off.

This doesn't have an A-list cast, except perhaps Brosnan (who by the way was dumped by 007 producers). The rest of the cast were filled by B list actors and has-beens like Woody Harrelson (his performance here, I like, in a sorta cheesy manner). Salma Hayek is under used in this role, except for whining on retirement and sunsets. Pah! Who wanna watch sunsets with you, when there's a multi-million diamond up for grabs?

Nothing exciting in the storyline - a master thief decides to retire, but is brought back into the game by a local thug who makes an irresistable offer, a washout cop obsessed with the thief because of the embarassment suffered each time he's outwitted, and a complimentary twist at the end.

Nothing exciting at all, except perhaps for Salma Hayek's curves, which she flaunts each time on screen. And oh yes, remind me not to rely too much on modern technology for automobiles.
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