Sunday, October 25, 2009

The price you pay for original?

Caveat emptor... let the buyer beware! According to the Sunday Straits, video stores have been unwittingly peddling pirated wares forged by the Jack Sparrows of the movie industry, whose scanning and Photoshop skills have shown marked improvements.

However, this is not the first time poop like this has happened. Many ages ago, a video store with a name that rhymes with "taser" brought in purportedly original VCDs of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Return of the King from Thailand, mere weeks after the theatrical release. Took a while before anyone noticed the aquatic stench, including yours truly, who was at the time just too elated to have the opportunity to revisit Middle Earth at such short notice. The company was slapped with a million-dollar fine for its efforts; unfortunately I can't seem to track down the original news article about this fiasco. Hopefully, the evidences of my gullibility, as pictured on the left, would suffice.

Anyway, the article suggests that we should all become digital artwork analysts and look out for slightly "pixellated" graphics, in order to guard ourselves from these fakes. We know how busy the officials are, catching those pesky teen downloaders and fining holiday-ers who bought the same fake DVDs abroad; we must do our part to protect the billion-dollar movie industry from losing millions. Actually, there is an easier and quicker way to spot a dodgy DVD - if an English movie has big Chinese titles on its cover, avoid buying it. This will reduce your chances of making a bogus buy by about maybe 99, 100%?

Left picture: The Maltese Falcon DVD, a made in Taiwan variant (with an all-English cover art) sold at Suntec Carrefour for a measly S$6.99...

Err... Then again, maybe not.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Review: Up

To my dear brother Will2k who fell asleep during The Mummy 3...

Saw "Up". You won't fall asleep on this one. In fact, bring extra tissues.

Pixar has done it again, again, again, etc. Shit, can they not fail? Maybe they should fail once, so that at least I don't have to say "they have done it again" once again.

It's one of those good movies where there's no point talking about it since it only ruins the experience for those who haven't seen it. All I will say is that a small chunk of it was inspired by Hayao Miyazaki's "Laputa: Castle in the Sky", but the rest of the magic is pure Pixar effort.

A bit surprised how Up is startlingly similar to Gran Torino's old white geezer meets Asian kid and both learn life lessons plot, complete with dogs, but with more balloons and lesser guns.

Seems like the best movie directors nowadays all work for Pixar. The rest of the crap goes to Hollywood. Easily, best movie of the year before seeing The Hurt Locker, District 9, and Inglourious Basterds.

Anyway, "Up" is two thumbs way up, with balloons tied to my thumbs.

55 MINUTES LATER: I just read The Outlaw Vern's review, and realised he has beaten me to the Gran Torino reference. So, credit is given where credit's due.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Review: Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen

Some time has passed since the events of the previous Transformers movie. After the defeat and death of Megatron, "transformers" from every corner of the universe, Autobots and Decepticons alike, started making their way to planet Earth en masse. The humans recruited the Autobots to hunt and destroy the Decepticon nuisance, while trying to keep their existence under wraps from the public. Things start to get more complicated when an ancient Decepticon who calls himself "The Fallen" appears, looking for a Decepticon weaponry long hidden somewhere on Earth that could potentially destroy the world.

Transformers 2, or Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen still possesses all the problems from its predecessor, and worse. The comedy that held up the entertainment factor of the first one has deteriorated in quality in the second. With lesser good laughs, the second movie leans more heavily on the other major aspects - action, acting and story - but there isn't a marked improvement on these either. The action is still a mess, no thanks to the convoluted designs of the robots, where it is still very difficult to make out the head from the feet, especially when the robots are on the move. The camera does not jerk around as much, but it's just a mild compromise. Shia LaBeouf is less goofy and more serious and heroic and dramatic, a development that shortchanges on his character's core appeal. Megan Fox had more to do in the first one despite being objectified as a sexual conquest for the hero. Here, she's just purely an object positioned here for maximum oogling satisfaction. Like Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers 2 confuses plot convolution with sophistication, making a baffling mess out of what is simply a "Decepticons want to destroy the world" tale. And finally, the robots are still relegated to supporting duties when they're actually the real stars of the show.

But the thing that finally derails the movie are the two blatantly racist depiction of African Americans via two twin robot characters, who sport gold-capped teeth, cuss a lot, and act like sub-intelligent buffoons. There are so many ways to make these characters more endearing and likeable (they're the good guys after all), but the filmmakers just had to make them as obnoxious as possible. However, the real "icing" on this putrid cake is when they introduce fan favourite Transformer, the Devastator, a gargantuan and destructively powerful Decepticon that is actually a formation of several construction vehicle-themed Transformers, only to have his awesomeness crash down several notches by letting the twins almost nearly defeated him. - BMF

Directed by Michael Bay (Transformers, The Island) and written by Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, (Transformers, Mission: Impossible 3, The Legend of Zorro) and Ehren Kruger(Blood and Chocolate, The Brothers Grimm). Stars Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro, Kevin Dunn, Julie White and Glenn Morshower. Voiced by Peter Cullen, Hugo Weaving, Tony Todd and Frank Welker.

The original face of

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Spider-man director to helm "World of Warcraft"

Sam Raimi, co-creator of the Hercules and Xena TV series, director of the infamous Evil Dead movies and Army of Darkness, will take the reigns on the movie adaptation of massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) "World of Warcraft", says Harry Knowles of AintItCool.Com. Apparently, the notorious Uwe Boll (Bloodrayne, In the Name of the King) was a front-runner for the director's seat, much to the chagrin of game fans everywhere. Interestingly, Raimi was previously in Peter Jackson's shortlist of potential directors for The Hobbit, another medieval fantasy. Raimi is a far, far more revered director than Boll, and he's definitely a very reassuring choice to guide an adaptation of a genre known for its highly consistent cinematic failings.

Oh, did I forget to mention that he directed some comic book movies about some spidery superhero fella?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Blog is now my Site

Surprise! Due to the financial crisis, I have decided to cancel my web hosting with Yahoo and make this Blog the official BMF site instead. Ok, honestly it wasn't the financial crisis, just that the hosting's awfully expensive that it's taking up half my annual movie budget, which could have been put to much better use. Also, beautiful though the old site may look, creating a new page is awfully time consuming, even with a ready template. Too many variables to customise. I could spend an entire night just to put up a new review. Blogger is a little aesthetically-challenged, but postings are relatively fuss-free and archive themselves automatically. A lot of other sites are also using this type of neater and simpler blog-posting format.

There'll be a lot of "transfer" work in the next few months. I will definitely bring over all my reviews and other stuff. Expect some funkiness on the blog too, with pictures missing from certain posts. I shouldn't have "borrowed" the pictures from my Yahoo-hosted site. (sigh)

I do feel a little sad because I really loved the old site's design. I have it backed up already, so I could still maybe one day restart another hosting again. We shall see.

Monday, May 11, 2009

This week's highlight: Star Trek!

If you're the kind who can't tell the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek, you'd likely not watch the latest "reboot" of the series, restarting the franchise with new actors reliving the adventures of familiar characters, albeit updated to current sensibilities. Similar treatments had been done and done successfully to the Batman and James Bond series. But based on what I've heard, this may finally be a rendition of the rather cult-ish sci-fi series that is meant for mainstream audiences, a.k.a. your "kind". The new Star Trek has the sexiest and youngest cast, as far as I know, and seems more action packed than the other Trek films combined. Friday U.S. box office receipts indicate a huge weekend opening take, while most critics reacted positively. Might be worth a watch.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This week's highlight: X-Men Origins: Wolverine!

Wolverine is arguably the most interesting and popular among the myriad of mutants that inhabit the world of X-men, despite having almost no significant offensive ability apart from his retractable and indestructible claws. His grizzled tough guy personality plays off to his team mates’ characters very well, but he rarely brings that magic to his comic book spin-offs when he becomes the centre of attention. Will the movie equivalent suffer the same fate? With the first cellulite appearance of Gambit, Tsotsi director Gavin Hood at the helm, and Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth reloaded, don’t count on it, bub. (Wait a minute, is that Cyclops in the poster?)

Monday, April 6, 2009

This week's highlight: Knowing!

Before you dismiss this one as just another one of Nicolas Cage's career disasters, Knowing is actually director Alex Proyas' latest movie, he of The Crow and Dark City fame. Coincidentally, Roger Ebert is one of the very few critics who lauded his new movie, just like what happened with Dark City before. I'll have to go with Ebert on this one, because I too agreed with him on Dark City. Could be the Speed Racer of 2009.

Alternative: chicks and fast cars in Fast and Furious (a.k.a. The Fast and the Furious 4.) I live my life a quarter of a mile at a time... (snicker)

Monday, March 30, 2009

This week's highlight: Gran Torino!

Clint Eastwood is 78 years old and still kicking ass. He's considered one of cinema's most iconic action stars, with memorable roles such as "The Man with No Name" in Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns*, and the blueprint for endless reiteration of the movie rogue cop, Dirty Harry. Nowadays, he's more into directing and acting in his own work, and has created Oscar pedigrees like Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River and The Changeling. Will Gran Torino be a reworking of Dirty Harry, like how Unforgiven was to his westerns? Nevertheless, it's just exciting to be able to see Eastwood sneering while wielding a gun in a movie poster again.

*There are only three with Eastwood: A Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

Monday, March 16, 2009

This week's highlight: Dragonball Evolution!

I'd love to recommend Departures, the Japanese movie that won Best Foreign Picture, but you and I know that we're all going to watch Dragonball Evolution this week no matter what. Not because it's going to be good, but more like to appease that horrible human side of us that can't help but stare at traffic accident wreakages. I do sincerely hope that Dragonball turns out to be at least an okay, entertaining flick, but it's hard to keep the faith when there's a Caucasian Goku kamehameha-ing in a fake CG-heavy world, sidekicked by the handsomest rendition of Master Roshi in the history of the original manga.

Alternative: The X-men-esque psychic actioner Push.

Monday, March 9, 2009

This week's highlight: Watchmen!

Of all the Alan Moore movie adaptations (V for Vendetta, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell), Watchmen is the only one that I've read its source material. Watchmen probably inspired The Incredibles, set in a similar world that once loved and now shuns its costumed crimefighters. The book oddly veers between cliche and brilliance that you wondered if Moore only had a few clever ideas and filled the gaps with the usual superhero melodrama. At least the clever parts do stick in your mind, and all of the characters are compelling and unforgettable. It'll be interesting to see what Zack Snyder's "slavish" adaptation is going to offer on top of what's already in the book. (Snyder directed 300 and Dawn of the Dead 2004.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

This week's highlight: The Wrestler!

Next week's biggest mainstream movie would likely be The Pink Panther 2, but stuck in limbo on Golden Village's Coming Soon page is a little movie called The Wrestler, still scheduled on this page to premiere last Thursday. If you have already done your Oscar homework and sat through The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Reader, Slumdog Millionaire and Milk, take this one as "additional study material". I never quite got the appeal of Mickey Rourke during the Eighties, but the guy was great in Sin City, and now he's a Best Actor nominee for what seems to be a Rocky-like movie. Others of note: Takeshi Kaneshiro starrer K-20: Legend of the Mask, star-studded rom-com He's Just Not That Into You, and Leon Lai probably channeling Leslie Cheung in Forever Enthralled.

Monday, February 9, 2009

This week's highlight: Valkyrie!

Bryan Singer is still one of my favourite directors around despite making Superman Returns, one of the most stunningly disappointing movies I've ever seen. This is because Singer directed The Usual Suspects, an innovative take on the now oft-copied Rashomon plot device, and the first two X-men movies, which help brought legitimacy to the comic book genre long before Nolan's Batman movies. I really hope this is his return to form, or at least an indication that he's got back some of his mojo, because it'll be a pity that his career would flounder after only a smattering of movies to his credit.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

This week's highlight: Underworld - Rise of the Lycans!

I'm the kind of movie aficionado who relishes in skewering movies like 10,000 B.C. and Ghost Rider, and yet still finds room in his cynical heart to love movies like Death Race, Silent Hill, and especially the Underworld series. Nothing deep to analyse here. It's just a matter of how you like your eggs done - sunny side up or scrambled. To its credit, Underworld's vampires vs. werewolves plot is much more compelling than Van Helsing's, and the action scenes, crucial to movies of its ilk, were pretty entertaining, especially the werewolf transformations. Rise of the Lycans depicts what transpired long before the events in the first movie, chronicling the tale of Lycan king Lucian and the tragedy that jumpstarted the centuries-old feud between the two fanged factions.

Monday, January 12, 2009

This week's highlight: Red Cliff 2!

Among the recent batch of Romance of the Three Kingdoms adaptations (Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of a Dragon, An Empress and the Warriors, etc.,) Red Cliff is the most entertaining and lavish in terms of production design. It's not perfect, but perfectly epic and grand, with lofty and mighty men (both in strength and intellect) crossing blades in great and important battles. Red Cliff 1's momentum kind of dwindled in the final scene, so it'll be interesting to see how the story continues and finishes in this concluding chapter. My knowledge of Chinese literature is hopeless, but from what I've heard, there's going to be some major betrayals, and men hugging, crying and dying together. Also, doves. Lots of doves.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

This week's highlight: Ip Man!

Firstly, it's "Ip Maa-an", as in "bun". Secondly, this is not a superhero movie about a guy who can turn into, or have the power of "Ip", whatever that means. Ip Man was actually the name of the man who taught Bruce Lee how to kick serious ass. With Donnie Yen as the lead, historical accuracy be damned; I just want to see some balletic bone crunching done better than anything Jet and Jackie could muster up in The Forbidden Kingdom. Keep an eye out for another Ip Man biopic in the near future, courtesy of Hong Kong film auteur Wong Kar Wai.

By the way, Happy New Year guys! : )