BRIEF MOVIE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CASUAL MOVIEGOERS


Saturday, May 31, 2008

Will2k reviews Cloverfield!

"I felt I’ve enjoyed it more than the highly budgeted Godzilla movie. I really regretted not watching this movie in the cinema as I would have been awed by the disaster scenes if I had seen it on a big cinema screen or a wide-screen TV. Damn it!"
Read Will2k's review here! (with spoilers)

Friday, May 30, 2008

This week's highlight: The Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian!

Sigh... I'm still reeling from the major disappointment that was Indiana Jones 4. What's even sadder is that it wouldn't take much for Prince Caspian to be better than that flick. It may have magic cupboard portals and talking animals, but at least that was clearly set up in the first movie to be the kind of world it belonged to. The "fridge" and "Tarzan" segments in Crystal Skull is FAR beyond and beneath the Indy universe, voodoo dolls be damned! Sigh, at least we've still got Batman: The Dark Knight...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Alas, the dreaded review nobody wants to read about... the Big Movie Freak's negative review of the latest Indiana Jones flick.

"...As the saying goes, the whole should be greater than the sum of its parts. Unfortunately, as a whole, Crystal Skull feels like a tired, by-the-numbers Hollywood blockbuster that is closer to the Van Helsing camp than anything in Spielberg’s oeuvre. Spielberg has fashioned a movie that has more in common with his imitators of late than even his last two (and very recent) blockbuster outings; smothered in a thick, fake, plastic-ky layer of CGI, and plagued with an unusual lack of quality control and enthusiasm in telling its story..."

Read my full review here.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Will2k reviews Iron Man!

"Iron Man is a movie that I did not have much idea about because I never really followed any of its comic or cartoons. However, I was expecting some metal vs. metal bashing and smashing, and I wasn't disappointed! The best part about it: I’m pretty sure it's better than Transformers! The movie is nothing short of amazing. Detailed, superbly designed, marvelous engineering and very creative technology... impressive stuff! If this movie had been released when I was young, I would have bought the suit from the supermarket and a few of the 6-inch figurines!"

Read Will2k's review here! (minor spoilers)

Friday, May 23, 2008

This week's highlight: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull!






















Iron Man may have been sweet, but this is the summer movie that fans, the nostalgic, and movie aficionados have been waiting for. Enthusiasts love to laud Raiders of the Lost Ark as a cinematic gem, but intentional or not, the men behind Indiana Jones (among them George Lucas and Steven Spielberg) were actually only trying to put together an entertainment piece that homages 1930s adventure movies. Some people are already complaining about the lack of sophistication in Crystal Skull's storyline. But really, what were they actually expecting from the third sequel to a movie where a guy gets famously chased by a giant freakin' boulder?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A precursor of things to come

















Alfred Molina as the arachnid-covered "Satipo" in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Twenty-three years later he played Dr. Otto Octavius a.k.a. "Doctor Octopus" who gets to beat up Spidey in Spider-man 2.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Review: Speed Racer

"After seeing everybody’s reviews and comments and the poor box office results for Speed Racer, I’m more convinced than ever that for many people, including critics themselves, summer movies are all about action and special effects than they care to admit. Good stories, acting and direction are all but secondary, and act as mere leverages for critics to justify liking junk-food cinema. Speed Racer happens to be that rare movie to prove this hypocrisy, with a story and performances that are better than what you would expect from its ilk, delivering what critics often claimed to have wanted in their popcorn movies. Yet action and aesthetics were their foremost complaints when it comes to reviewing this movie, and somehow the plot, acting and direction (which were far from bad) got unfairly skewered in the process..."

Read my full review here.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

This week's highlight: Chocolate!

Directed by Ong Bak's Prachya Pinkaew but sans Tony Jaa, Chocolate seems to embody more of the same martial arts action and stunts these two are famous for. The bare-knuckled hero this time around is actually a girl, played by newcomer Yanin "Jeeja" Vismistananda. Through the power of observation, TV and M&Ms, she learns the art of ass-kicking, and found it very useful when accumulating funds for her mum's cancer treatment. I just hope this is not another one of Pinkaew's desperate attempt to make a drama rather than an all-out beat-'em-up (Tom Yum Goong being the big offender), though admittedly the trailer looks sweet.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Marvel mania

Immediately after the rousing success and huge weekend opening of Iron Man, Marvel Comics' first fully self-financed movie, the comic book giant announced the release date for its sequel (30 April 2010), as well as a few other titles including Thor (4 June 2010), The Avengers (July 2011) and most interesting of all, Captain America (6 May 2011).

When I was barely out of my tod years, I was already a Captain America fan. I was too young then to understand the nationalistic inclinations of the character, but I was very much mesmerised by the superhero's cool, colourful costume and indestructible throwing shield. There was also something cool about him battling the Nazis during World War 2, who were led by a memorable villain called The Red Skull (who literally had a red skeleton for a head like Skeletor).

In restrospect, my little infatuation with the Cap seems a little embarrassing. Not just because he's a blatantly patriotic figure of another country, but because the whole concept of Captain America is as corny as the idea of a Sargeant Singapore or Major Malaysia. Today's movie audiences are more matured and cynical, and you can see it in their taste for flawed, complicated heroes (e.g. Iron Man, Spider-man, Blade, The Crow, Batman, etc.) Superman is probably the closest in terms of colour scheme and American ideals, but although Superman Returns' box office draw wasn't too bad, it got mixed reactions from critics and fans. Perhaps some people aren't very receptive to the traditional, wholesome, good-natured superheroes anymore. (My problems with Superman Returns had more to do with the handling of the story than Supes' outdated goody-two-shoes-ness, which I think could still work.)

Thus, an update to the concept seems inevitable. What would they need to change then? Make the character black, as one movie journalist had suggested? Update the costume to a trendier, darker colour like they did in X-men? Or maybe even change his name entirely? The First Avenger, anyone? How about giving him an Uncle Ben-like backstory to brood and sulk about and plot a revenge with?

I say a resounding "no" to all of these. You take away the stuff that makes this character unique - his name, his costume and what he stands for - and make him modern, darker and edgier, you might as well call the movie Blade 4. There is only one era where the Cap would not look entirely out of place, and it's in the early 1940s, on European soil, battling Nazi supermen. Think Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, or Indiana Jones or the opening sequence of Hellboy. If there's one thing the silver screen lacks today, it's superhero movies set in World War Two.

Of course, in The Avengers movie, Captain America would have to be transported into modern times to head a team of superheroes consisting of him, Iron Man, Thor and others (via WWII-era cryogenics technology; a la Demolition Man). I wouldn't know how the character's going to work then, but that's for the writers to fret about in these coming weeks.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ssstars...

Just noticed today that a rating interface has appeared on the blog's posts without warning. Do you guys see it too (it's very obvious at the bottom of every post), or is it just me? Anyway, the interface is a five-star rating system that allows you to rate the posts, I dunno, for literary competence or something. I checked the settings to see if it was one of the Freaks tampering with the blog, but no one has been authorised for administrative duties but me. Furthermore, there isn't a rating interface option at all in the settings. Could this be some kind of reward from Blogger.com? You know, either for using their services after a period of time, or just being a plain awesome blog. Yeah, probably the latter.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

High-definition... WTF?!

To me, there's no topic drier than a technical one (although the Tech Freak might disagree), but if you're planning to set up a home theatre system, there is really no escape from it. You might have heard about this whole high-definition (HD for short) craze that's going on, with people hoarding bargain-priced HD televisions (HDTV for short) at tech fairs as much as they do with rice (well, maybe just in Singapore). Then, there was this format "war" going on between the two HD formats, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD. HD who, you say? To many people, they probably thought that Blu-Ray just burst into the scene recently and were oblivious to whatever "war" that was going on. Probably nobody cared too, because some of us are still transitioning from VCDs to DVDs! (Note: DVDs only came into prominence here in the first half of this decade.)

Of course, to fully utilise the prowess of your HDTV, you need to watch something in HD, and that thing could be either a HD channel from free TV or cable, or from a Blu-Ray disc. I don't doubt the awesomeness of watching movies in glorious HD (e.g. the Blu-Ray's resolution is six times better than a DVD's!), but it's still too early to jump on the bandwagon. For one thing, the Blu-Ray library is currently very limited, so a lot of your favourite movies might not be available in this format for years to come. Furthermore, Blu-Ray disc prices are around the range of S$50, compared to Region 3 DVDs, often priced between S$20-S$30. A Blu-Ray player costs around S$600.

Unless you have deep pockets, it's better to adopt a wait-and-see approach. Prices would naturally drop once the Blu-Ray market widens in the next few months, and it's not like the DVD is immensely inferior to Blu-Ray. If you didn't know, there are Blu-Ray and HD-DVD players that can "upscale" your DVDs, or artificially process the video from your DVDs into near-HD video quality, so, don't sell away your precious DVD collection just yet. The best time to start is either in 2009 or 2010. By then, legal movie downloads might have already become the norm, who knows?

Personally, I think the jump to HD is largely unnecessary. Unless you want to examine every pock mark on your favourite celebrity's cheek, the video quality on DVDs are already sufficient. The only time your eyes need the relief of HD video is when you're gaming. Us gamers are all too familiar with the eye-watering blurry graphics of past-gen systems, but the recent crop of HD-supported consoles have significantly lessen the visual strain, and probably improved gamers' endurance for marathon gaming sessions (to the chagrin of some parents, no doubt.)

Note: I never mentioned about Blu-Ray's audio quality because I'm the kind of person who can't tell the difference between 5.1 and DTS except that one is louder than the other. Thus, the prospect of having 7.1 surround sound in my movies isn't exactly something earth-shattering to me. You might want to ask or check out an audiophile's website for more info on this.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

This week's highlight: Speed Racer!

Having never watched a single Speed Racer episode, I'm going into this one not as an anime fan but as a Wachowskis supporter giving the directors their second chance after flubbing the Matrix sequels. Though they redeemed themselves a little with V for Vendetta, but they only did the screenplay adaptation, while Speed Racer would be their true directorial comeback after The Matrix Revolutions. Looking at the promo materials, you'd be an idiot if you're expecting anything more than a silly kid flick. But I still hope that it's a good kid's flick, or if we're lucky, maybe some unexpected intelligence, Wachowski-style, in the script. (Though, based on early reviews on the web, its seems that our luck has ran out.)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Iron Man blasts his way into a US$100m opening

Looks like it's a slam dunk after all. According to Box Office Mojo, Iron Man easily took the number one spot for this week's top earners with a three-day weekend gross of over US$100 million. It also scored very well with the critics, with Rottentomatoes.com registering a 94% fresh rating from U.S. online film critics. Notably absent were reviews from Roger Ebert and Film Freak Central. Good luck next week, Speed Racer.

BMF Comics #10

See the entire comic strip here.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The BMF must write more

The great thing about blogs like Alvin Lim's, the authors don't post pictures and videos as much as I do. With Alvin, he writes and draws about office life quite regularly, and generated a lot of feedback and comments from them. So far, the most I've done was to bitch about money and suggest some ways to save them. It's not that I hardly write anything, just that I tend to write reviews more, and they're all located on the main site. The blog is a tool more suited for occasional, random thoughts or important news that needs to be posted up quickly, and recently I didn't have much to share aside from my opinions about the movies I saw. Furthermore, the original plan was to have the Freaks regularly contributing their literary geniuses here, but they have opted to plant their roots on a more liberating and irreverent blogsite. Still, it's not like the BMF Blog is experiencing a dearth of material. I'm still making sure that there's at least one blog update daily, but I'll try to write more and will promise to post less LOLcats pictures.


For your reading pleasure, here are some recommendations for the weekend:



and,



(cribbed from IMDb.com's Hit List)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Potential big hits of 2008


Seems like Will Smith has jumped on the superhero bandwagon. This one isn't an adaptation but an original screenplay that sounds a little parodic (Han-cock, snort snort), about a man imbued with superheroic powers who isn't exactly the best role model for children. With Smith's name in the top billing, it's a guaranteed money-maker. The only question is how much.

I don't know how anyone could ever take shoot-'em-up movies seriously anymore since last year's spoof-like Shoot 'Em Up. Ok, maybe you still can, since apparently not many people saw that one (which is a shame, because it's freakin' good). Angelina Jolie's latest is actually based on a comic book, stars Morgan Freeman and Atonement's James McAvoy, and has crazy slo-mo, shoot-'em-up action. (The heroes have the ability to curve bullet trajectories!) It's also directed by Night Watch's Timur Bekmambetov, so expect craziness in other areas as well.
Another silly comedy from Adam Sandler? True, but like Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, this one seems to have a bit of political angle to it. Sandler's Zohan character is a retired Israeli counter-terrorist operative who has taken up a job as a hairstylist in America. When a bunch of dormant Middle Eastern terrorists (one of them played by Rob Schneider) realised who he is, all hell breaks loose. It could be a wee bit clever if we're ever so lucky, but it's more likely to be condescending and pointlessly offensive. Still, the trailer was pretty funny. Expect it to be banned in Malaysia.