Notable Nuggets Double Feature: The Objective (2008) & Right at Your Door (2006)


Greetings, all and sundry!

Having enjoyed a brief respite and access to Netflix and the Independent Film Channel (IFC). I’ve taken the time to indulge in a favorite past time. And to take the advice of Julian over at Dirtywithclass Blog to critique some newer films.

Rooting around, digging, excavating and uncovering an offering or two that are worthy of critique and dissemination. Whether big budgeted extravaganzas. Or small, shot on a shoe string budget attempts at making statements intriguing, dramatic, satiric, political. Or just plain original, well thought-out and executed.

Falling back on the Double feature format fits very well with both film’s clocking in at 90 minutes, give or take. And less than extravagant budgets well and frugally spent in both instances. With that said. Allow me to introduce the first of two …

Notable Nuggets #1: The Objective (2008)

TheObjective2008PosterA film that seethes with middle of nowhere “No Slack”. From its pitch black, moonless night opening shots around a desolate Afghan village rendezvous of a clutch second and third tier special operators. Made even more forlorn by a whistling sandstorm and an effete, kind of distant Analyst from CIA’s Langley headquarters, Benjamin Keynes (Jonas Ball). Who has been sent to this mountainous, high altitude hell hole for find evidence of, or establish communication with The Objective.

Whose location has been guesstimated to be somewhere within a fifty square mile area at the base of the Hundu Kush between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Courtesy of photos from some advanced KH-11 spy satellites and reconnaissance aircraft augmented for electro-magnetic anomalies.

Of course, Keynes delivers only the bare minimums in regards to a mission where special operators would requires binders of information and intel before proceeding. But the Agency is doing this on the cheap. Bringing back the 1960s concept of an hopefully, infinitely expendable and deniable “Spike Team” to get the job done. Now the team, led by Chief Warrant Office Wally Hamer (Mattew R. Anderson) and Sgt. Vincent Degetau (Jon Heurtas from ‘Castle’) have the latest in GSP equipment, satellite phones, rifles, explosives, rations, communication and load bearing gear. A half dozen men. All NCOs who have been around the block and are loaded for bear. Jammed into two aged Range Rovers with Keynes, an Afghan guide and interpreter. The team heads off to a village and its cleric and wise man who knows much of the history of the area in question.

The team arrives without major incident and the cleric is very mysterious and miserly with what he wishes to say. The area does exist and is full of bright lights and strange occurrences. Dating back to the time of Alexander. With many events happening around the time of Kipling, Tommies and the Khyber Pass.


The shooters of the team shrug it off and head out the next morning. To run into an ambush that leaves one Land Rover disabled and Sgt. Trenoski (Michael C. Williams) dead. The team returns fire. See hits that count. But no bodies when searching immediately after. The team buries Trenoski and discover their GPS gear is having problems. As well Keynes’ Sat Phone and the team’s Lensatic Compasses. To make matters worse, the interpreter is getting more paranoid by the hour. Which is starting to wear on unit cohesion. Made worse when the team finds that their Camel Backs, canteens and blivet bags now contain sand instead of water.

Keynes and the team finds what they think is an abandoned cave that has a fresh water source and a old and wrinkled Nomad. Whose remnants of 19th century British Army red serge peek under his robes as he tells the tale of a sole surviving soldier. Keyne’s also finds a child’s toy that looks like a 1950s delta winged airplane. That will be something of a talisman as the story progresses.

By odd occurrence, Sgt. Cole sees the Nomad standing and mumbling to himself in the distance the next morning. A quick peek through Night Vision Goggles reveal three images in black robes. Sgt. Cole opens fire and kills the old man. Keynes orders everyone to start moving. And the team medic, Sgt, Degatau starts having serious stomach and intestinal pains. The paranoid guide takes a header off a cliff and Keynes is stuck in a rapidly deteriorating situation.

Lost, low on water. The team stumbles about trying to get a fix as to where they are. Night falls and sounds starts swirling in the night. Lights appear in the sky and Keynes and the three remaining shooters take up a defensive position and cut loose. Keynes looks through his thermal camera and sees outlines of saucer shapes. Two shooters dash forward seeking cover and run into what may be a force field and are vaporized.

Keynes, Hamer and Degatau create the world’s tightest perimeter until moring. When Hamer starts to really loose it and wanders off. Keynes takes Degetau with him until Degetau can walk no more. Keynes finally gets a satellite fix and discovers he and his team were in a spot where British troops disappeared more than a century ago. Keynes leaves Degatau and starts following ethereal images in his thermal camera long into the night. When Keynes finally discovers The Objective!

I’ll leave it here. And pick it up a few months later. Where Keynes is lying a few inches above his bed in an ultra clean surgery and laboratory. Clutching the child’s delta winged toy in one fist.

EKGs and EEGs say that he’s staring unblinking at nothing while seriously tripping his brains out. And Keynes’ wife is being interviewed after being told by the CIA that her husband is missing in action.

Now. What’s Notable About This Film?

An arguably low budgeted B-Movie that seems, looks and feels to be much more. Shot on location in Morocco decently substituting its plains, plateaus and mountains of Afghanistan. With the aid of cinematographer, Stephanie Martin. Who has a talent with washed out blues, faded earth tones and adding a fine patina of dust both close up and at a distance.

Under the sometimes less than deft touch of director, Daniel Myrick. Whose earlier, ‘The Blair Witch Project’ seems to subtly at first, more heavily later, permeate the film. With a sense of “Bad Mojo” unease as the team begins. That slowly evolves into dread and something more sinister as the mission heads south.

TheObjective_JonasBallThe cast of mostly unknowns are more than up to the task. Jonas Ball has the smooth, very tech savvy Analyst stuck in some cubbyhole in the Agency’s basement. Finally given the chance to break out of his comfortable Government Service rank of Captain or Major. And make a name for himself.

The secondary cast of shooters look and act like they have been in uniform and around the block a few times. Maintaining their cool as things go from bad to worse.

And as with any decent Science Fiction. There are always more questions than answers. Many pertinent as team moves away from its jump off village. Then becoming essential as they move deeper into the Afghan ‘Bermuda Triangle’.

What does The Agency want with The Objective? Probably something nefarious. But they are going to have to seriously upgrade their firepower and diplomatic skills long before any kind of negotiations begin!

Which brings us to my selected second feature. A rather small, low to no budgeted independent “backyard film”. That contemplates and toys with the unthinkable around the quiet, serene, middle income suburbs of Echo Park, California.

Notable Nuggets #2: Right at Your Door (2006)

RightAtYourDoorPosterWhich begins with a rather sleepy and shabby Brad (Rory Cochrane – ‘Dazed and Confused’, CSI: Miami’, ‘Argo’) making a latte for his sleeping wife, Lexi (Mary McCormack – ‘1408’, ‘In Plain Sight’). Who is quickly off to work. Listening to her car’s radio, Lexi hears that there have been several explosions in Los Angeles. And is immediately caught in traffic accident that becomes a multi car pile up.

Beat up, but not seriously injured, Lexi tries to find out what’s going on as towers of black smoke rise far off in the distance. People are panicked, but half way helpful as the police inch in and try to maintain some order. At the same time, out of work guitarist, Brad hears the same broadcasts. Gathers himself up and tries to get to Lexi by car. Only to be turned away as roadblocks spring up. Erected by gas masked police and a smattering of Raycal and chemical suited individuals as ash starts to rain down on trees, streets cars and houses. A car in front of Brad is stopped. Ash is visible all over as the driver gets out. Only to be warned at gun point to get back in his car. The driver hesitates or refuses and is shot dead. Brad sees this and reverses course back home. Telling a neighbor’s kid to get back home and stay indoors under his parents come back.

Brad listens to the radio and starts gathering up plastic bags and duct tape. Sealing up windows and door jambs. Letting his friend, Alvaro (Tony Perez) in before the house is turned slowly into an incubator. It seems that Alvaro had been painting a larger, empty house and a smaller safe haven was easily within reach. Together they learn through sporadic broadcasts that the bombs used the the explosions in L.A. were dirty in nature. And at least one has tested positive for chemicals and toxins. Brad and Alvaro don’t panic, but they do gather food and water. And a large zip locked bag of food, water and clothes left for Lexi on the back porch. Should she return. In the interim, more broadcasts announce that no one outside your door should be allowed inside.

Lexi is checked by paramedics and deemed fit to move. Which she does. Heading back to her house and Brad on foot. A phone call from Lexi’s mother begging her to go to the hospital falls on deaf ears. As Lexi develops a cough. Approaches the back porch late that afternoon. And finds the neighbor’s kid, Timmy (Scott Noyd, Jr), who had been hiding in one of his family’s cars, half scared to death.

Lexi calls Brad on her cell phone. But Brad won’t let her in. Lexi breaks a pane of glass in the door and drops her cell phone Brad sets up an impromptu, field expedient “Clean Room” where Lexi and Timmy can wash off their ash. Alvaro decided he needs to see his wife and exits. Slowly covered in ash. Which draws the attention of a kerchief masked Rick (Jon Huertas, again). Who tells Lexi that there is a container ship in the harbor that needs help off loading supplies. Lexi and Timmy follow. Leaving Brad to listen to broadcasts that the chemical toxins in the bombs affect the respiratory system.


Waken from a fitful sleep, Brad answers a pounding on the door. To find a MOPP-4 suited Corporal Marshall asking questions through his gas mask filter. Something impossible to understand through personal experience without a battery powered ‘Voice Mitter”. Brad answers as best he can and turns over Lexi’s dropped cell phone for chemical examination. Earing Brad and his home an overheard “Red Tag”.

Lexi returns the next morning to find her home inside a police tape barrier and a “Red tag” in the front yard. She and Brad fill each other in on past and current events. Though, it seems the worst is over. Timmy was treated at a hospital and was there waiting for his parents and hopefully not ‘quarantined”. Lexi also mentions that she saw five or six people get shot during the night.

The radio is back o with morning talk and occasional warnings. As several military trucks roll up and MOPP-4 (Charcoal lined, canvas fatigue uniform, rubber boots, gloves, gas mask and Kevlar helmet) suited and plastic bagged, armed G.I.s disperse. Pull Lexi away and erect a fumigation tent over the house and break out Flame throwers for ‘Sterilization”….

I’ll leave it right there.

Now. What’s Notable About This Film?

A true and somewhat toned down “Nightmare Scenario” set in perfect, instant gratification, Los Angeles. Where people in faraway glass booths are handing out third and fourth hand information. Without the benefit of someone actually reporting what is being seen and heard. And talking to survivors of the immediate attack and showing patience. Which would never do.

Something of a black satire on a media that emphasizes the negative. From as far back as worrying if the M-1 Abrams tank would win against Russian T-72s and T-80s. To if the A-10 tank killer airplane would live up to its hype during “Desert Storm”. Both did. magnificently!

No, this harkens back to Orson Welles and his ‘War of the World’ radio broadcast. Subtly planting the seeds of panic by interviewing “experts” who know little of their specialty. Have to play catch-up and react immediately. Instead of containing hot zones. Keeping homes secure and waiting to see what happens.


The television heavy, veteran cast are more than equipped and savvy to pull the plow. Especially Mary McCormack‘s Lexi. Who had been exposed to radiation and chemicals right off the bat. Who did develop a bad and rasping cough afterwards, but shows definite signs of improvement the next morning.

Surprisingly high marks for first time writer and director, Chris Gorak. Whose sense of quiet serenity around the suburbs of Echo Park offer a stark contrast to the chaos reported from the City of Angels. Doing a lot with a little with Tom Richmond’s exceptional cinematography and sets by Stephanie DeSantis.

Proving that there is quality in independent films. As Mr. Gorak’s offering was nominated for the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. And won its Cinematography Award for Mr. Richmond’s work.


Check out Jack’s other posts and reviews

Thoughts on either one of these films? Let it be known in the comments.

Musings on Batman casting… and the actor who gets my vote for the role: Richard Armitage

Perhaps one of the BIGGEST news out of Comic-con this year was the fact that Warner Bros. is developing a Superman & Batman film coming out in 2015. Zack Snyder (via actor Harry Lennix who played Gen Swanwick in Man of Steel) announced it to 6,500 screaming fans at Hall H, and the reaction was uproarious. Whether it’s a positive or negative reaction is hard to tell at the moment, as it was hugely unexpected.


My knee-jerk reaction was WTF??! I mean honestly, why on earth would they do such a thing? Seemingly a desperate move to get the ball rolling for the Justice League movie, throwing away all that work developing a compelling origin story on Superman. As much as I like both of those DC characters, in fact, I’ve always said I’m more of a DC than Marvel girl because of Superman AND Batman. But yet, the idea of seeing those two characters on screen TOGETHER in a film seems so… ill-advised. Darryl wrote this in-depth post on how the Superman & Batman film might change the character of Batman as we know it, which further suggest the complicated [read: thorny] predicament of the two co-existing within a feature film.

That said, I have to admit that this news rouse my curiosity whether and how that adaptation would actually look like. Is it one of those ideas that’s so crazy it’s brilliant… maybe?

This piece of news also threw the entertainment media into a frenzy, as article after article not only report the news but dissect or lambast the very idea. Naturally, it’s a pretty BIG news, and one that’ll surely keep on buzzing amongst entertainment fodder and comic geeks alike. I reckon that IF this idea was ever going to work, a SUPER script of EPIC proportion is in order… I mean, it was tricky enough for Marvel to bring all those superheroes together in The Avengers, I think the challenge for Batman & Superman is a thousand times bigger. The other precarious issue is the casting.

Now, before we get to that, I just want to briefly talk about Batman: Year One, an animated feature based on Frank Millers’ comics released in 1987. The story recounts the beginning of Bruce Wayne’s career as Batman and Jim Gordon’s with the Gotham City Police Department, which has been corrupted as much as the rest of Gotham. Bruce Wayne is at the age of 25, having just returned home to Gotham City from training abroad in martial arts, manhunting, and science for the past 12 years. I love the dark tone, grit and realism of the story and the humanity of the titular hero, which obviously inspired Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Now, the one thing that strikes me, as my pal Ted also pointed out, is how much Bruce Wayne in THIS adaptation looks like Richard Armitage!!


Just the past 10 days alone, I’ve read countless of articles speculating just who’ll don the Batsuit and share the screen with Henry Cavill as Superman. My friend Terrence dedicated his Time to Vote Tuesday poll last week on it, combining both TV and Film actors. Now, a bunch of major sites also made their picks of who they’d like to see cast as Batman. Total Film, The Playlist, Screenrant, Nerdbastards, just to name a few, have posted their picks, listing all kinds of actors that got me either nodding enthusiastically or shaking my head in disgust [Joe Manganiello?? I mean, seriously??] But all these sites have one thing in common… all of them got it right to list this classy Brit on their list!


Seriously, this is a no-brainer folks. I mean, he’s already working for Warner Bros for The Hobbit, so why doesn’t the studio just offer him another contract? I don’t think the fact that he’s already playing Thorin Oakenshield is a disadvantage, I mean he doesn’t even look like himself in that role. He’s playing a dwarf under all that beard and stringy long hair which camouflages his tall, lean figure, so I doubt people would confuse the two roles. He’s not a household name yet [which boggles the mind], but I think that fact works in his favor as he doesn’t have a ‘baggage’ if you will, of being associated with a previous role.

Whether it’s the Superman & Batman film or reboot of the Batman franchise, it’s always fun to talk about the casting of this beloved DC hero. I was going to list my top five picks to play Batman but you know what, for me there’s only one actor who I think is PERFECT for this role… so I might as well just list the seven reasons why he’s the obvious choice:

His looks


Let’s face it, this is the kind of role where the look of the actor is of the essence. The 41-year-old Englishman has the entire package. At nearly 6’3″, he’s all lean muscle with a chiseled yet rugged features, rockin’ a permanent five-o’clock-shadow look like nobody’s business. Yes I’d rather not see THAT face covered with the Bat cowl, but that’s ok, there’ll be plenty of Bruce Wayne scenes to make up for that. Even without seeing him in person, he’s what you’d call text-book handsome, but with an edge. There’s the right amount of danger, that rugged masculinity that makes him the perfect go-to guy for various anti-hero roles [i.e. in Spooks, Strike Back, Robin Hood]. It’s time that he makes his big-screen breakthrough, in fact it’s been way long overdue.

His intensity

I don’t often agree with The Playlist, but I LOVE what their post said about Armitage, saying that he “… has a similar, Bale-like intensity and the ability to convey a number of emotions through a glassy stare or purse-lipped facial expression. When it comes to the mood of the Dark Knight, especially when he’s at his darkest, Armitage could easily bring that to life.” Yes absolutely!


I first noticed Richard as John Thornton in BBC’s North & South and one thing I noticed right away is the fierce intensity he brings to the character. Plus he’s got that enormous screen presence even with no words spoken. But don’t confuse his stillness with being wooden, in fact, he always comes across as a sensitive loner who’s got a lot going for him that he simply can’t reveal to the world. Now who does that remind you of? 😉

He can act

Looks alone just won’t cut it, but thankfully Richard certainly CAN act. His versatility allows him to go from one genre to the next, whether it’s a period drama, fantasy adventure set in an ancient universe, or modern-day spy thriller, he always fits right in. He described himself as being ‘quite a detailed actor’ and he has this controlled ferocity that’s so mesmerizing to watch. I really think he’d bring so much to the role as Batman/Bruce Wayne, and casting him will be the making of that character.

He already looks good in black

Richard seems to wear a lot of black, on and off screen. But dark colors suits him… it brings out the pale complexion and those piercing blue-grey eyes nicely. He was clad in ALL black leather to play Guy of Gisborne in the BBC Robin Hood series, which seems to prepare him for a Batsuit, no? I mean, all he needs is a cape and he should be set 😀


I LOVE this Photoshop work someone did with Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991). It’s be a bonus if Rickman has a supporting role in the movie as well, that’d be heavenly!!

He already looks like a billionaire


Sometimes people just have that look that gives an aura of class… and Richard definitely has it. I mean sure, there are lots of actors who are far more ripped for those inevitable shirtless scenes, but are we going to believe them as a business magnate? I have trouble picturing some actors as someone who’ve stepped foot in an office, let alone being the owner of an establishment like Wayne Corporation. Richard has the right combo of brain and brawn, entirely convincing as a bad ass fighter as well as a brilliant thinker. He’d be as convincing in a Batsuit as well as pinstripe suit.

He’s got the tortured soul thing down pat


Ok so this trait isn’t exactly a make-or-break thing, but I do think for certain roles, i.e. Jane Eyre‘s Rochester, Hamlet, and certainly, Bruce Wayne, such quality would really come in handy. Richard has played a number of these roles, so yeah, portraying the troubled, conflicted persona of Bruce Wayne should come naturally to him. Most importantly, he can make the whole angst and heartache disposition look irresistibly sexy.

His deep, baritone voice

Now, even the most die-hard fans of Nolan’s Batman films have to admit that Batman’s disguise voice is awful and downright hilarious. I know there’s a certain popular actor who’s one of the top picks for this role but sorry, not only does his smug face bugs me, but that guy sounds like Mickey Mouse! One thing I like about the animated features are the voices of the cast are pretty good. Benjamin McKenzie did a good job providing the voice of Bruce Wayne in Batman: Year One, but really, it’s still no match for Richard’s smooth baritone voice. He’s one of those actors who’s as delightful to look at and listen too (eye candy AND ear candy!).

As we’ve seen briefly in his villainous role as Heinz Kruger in Captain AmericaRichard can pull off a convincing American accent too, as do most Brits. I love it when the voice matches a man’s stature, and Richard certainly has that signature commanding voice fit for a superhero

Well, I hope you’re convinced now that Richard is the one and only choice for Batman 😀

Curious to hear your thoughts on the Batman & Superman movie… and of course the Batman casting, so let’s hear it!

Weekend Roundup: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones cast appearance & X-Men rewatch

Happy Monday everybody! Hope everyone’s had a great weekend.

CityOfBones_onesheetWell, it’s a fairly mellow one for me up until Sunday morning as I went to what’s called the the Mall-tour kick-off of the Mortal Instruments: City of Bones movie that’s coming out on August 21. It’s the latest movie adaptation of a popular, supernatural-themed young adult novel which my three nieces are really into right now. In fact, all they talked about when I visited them last month was Hunger Games: Catching Fire and THIS movie. They’ve read most of the books by now, by author Cassandra Clare (who was supposed to attend but had to cancel due to illness), so of course I had to be at the event on their behalf!

It was quite an experience to be amongst screaming fans at Mall of America, as hundreds of fans (mostly girls of course) have been waiting for hours. The two girls at the front of the line told me they’ve actually camped out in front of the mall since noon the previous day!! I can’t post the interview yet until closer to the film’s release, but here are some pics from the MOA event. Stars of the movie, Lily Collins, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Kevin Zegers were in attendance for the Q&A and autograph signing. I couldn’t stop starring at Lily’s stunning black stilettos! 😀

I didn’t see anything new this weekend, as I’ve already seen The Wolverine earlier in the week (check out my review). Apparently even with $55 mil to top the box office, it’s still the lowest opening for an X-Men franchise. Not that I’m gonna shed a tear for Wolverine though, as I’m not too impressed with the latest movie. If anything, it made me wish X-Men: Days of Future Past were to be released this year already!


Now, speaking of the X-Men franchise (easily my favorite from the Marvel canon, though it’s still owned by FOX), I did rewatch the first movie from back in 2000. Bryan Singer practically kicked off the superhero genre with his compelling comic-book adaptation, and it still holds up well to this day.

I LOVE that opening scene between Professor X and Magneto at a Congressional hearing, which sets the tone for the whole film. I love how the underlying themes of racism and prejudice vs understanding and tolerance are still relevant to this day. It’s what I LOVE about the X-Men story, and despite how I feel about the latest adaptation of its most famous mutant, I’m still super stoked for Days of Future Past. I’m even more thrilled that Singer is back at the helm this time, too!

Oh, I also rewatched Batman Year One this weekend, as my pal Ted mentioned it recently. Watch for an indulgent, wish-list post based on that tomorrow 😀

Well, that’s my weekend recap, folks. What did YOU watch this weekend, anything good?

FlixChatter Review: The Wolverine


I’ve been a huge fan of the X-Men universe ever since Bryan Singer’s X-Men movie back in 2000. That was the first time I ever saw Hugh Jackman and he’s certainly the most intriguing character of the mutant ensemble. When the spin-off movie came along, it certainly wasn’t off to a good start, though I actually didn’t abhor X-Men Origins: Wolverine as much as people did. Now four years later, the fury mutant with indestructible metal alloy adamantium bonded to his skeleton is back, angrier than ever.

This movie takes place right after the third sequel of X-Men: The Last Stand, where in a heart-wrenching finale, Wolverine (Logan) had to kill the love of his life Jean Grey to save humanity. Constantly tormented by her death, Logan’s now retreated in the Canadian wilderness where his only friend is um, a grizzly bear. His past suddenly catches up with Logan when a Japanese girl turns up at a bar one rainy night, and invites him to meet Yashida, a man he once saved in a Nagasaki bombing in 1945.

It’s nice to see a superhero movie nary of a megalomaniac hellbent on destroying humanity. No exploding buildings/world landmarks by aliens/monsters taking over earth, etc. There is a huge atomic bomb at the opening sequence in Nagasaki, which was an intriguing start that shows us the incredible healing power of the titular hero. The plot of this movie certainly promises something truly riveting, as Logan not only has to confront his past and inner demons, but also has to grapple with losing his immortality. The setting in Japan adds that cool novelty factor, and I was prepared for an engrossing journey as the stakes become really personal for Logan.


Unfortunately, apart from a few exciting scenes, I find myself feeling quite bored by this movie. Let me start by the character itself. Now, amongst his fellow mutants in the X-Men movies, Wolverine easily stands out with his brooding sarcasm and the whole tortured-soul persona. But take the group away, watching him brood, sulk, snarl, and growl for two hours straight doesn’t exactly translate to riveting entertainment. Hugh Jackman‘s a good actor but he’s not given any opportunity to display much range here, and an actor’s charisma can only do so much. There is only one truly hilarious moment [also an excuse to show off Jackman’s buffer-than-buff physique], but the rest of his expressions range from solemn to dour. It doesn’t help that the rest of the supporting characters are one-dimensional or less, as most of the supporting cast (especially the female ones) are acting novices.

The tomboy red-head Yukio (Rila Fukushima) seemed a lot of fun at first but as soon as we arrive in Japan, we’ve got another Japanese girl to contend with, Yashida’s granddaughter Mariko (Tao Okamoto). It’s too bad as Yukio had just shared an interesting back-story of her own, but oh well, the script dictates that it will be about Mariko and Wolverine. It’s even more frustrating as Mariko is barely as interesting as a door knob, and even the relentless chase by the the Yakuza assassins fails to give her a character. By the time these two got together, the romance between them feels so awkward and entirely unconvincing. Oh, lest not forget the ‘phantom romance’ between Logan and Jean Grey, haunting him in lacy négligée, inviting him to join her in the after life. It’s excruciating to see Famke Janssen being so utterly wasted in this movie.

The one Japanese character that I was most intrigued with is Mariko’s ambitious father Shingen (Hiroyuki Sanada), but his role is underwritten and ultimately he becomes just another subject for Wolverine to fight with. Logan’s main mutant nemesis is Viper, a supermodel-like blond with prehensile tongue (Svetlana Khodchenkova). Sure she’s sexy but she’s nowhere near as fun as Mystique, nor as memorable. There’s a hint that perhaps there might be some kind of personal connection between the two but it doesn’t amount to much.


There are some really promising moments in the movie. The reunion between the dying Yashida and Logan is inherently intriguing, as Logan learns the real reason why he’s invited to Japan. But soon things turn hugely convoluted as family crisis turns into a deadly chase between the Yashida family and the Japanese Yakuzas. The fight scenes at the funeral display Wolverine’s bad-assery, though the hero is perhaps not as impervious as he once was. The already fast-paced action goes even faster, bullet-train fast to be exact, as Logan has to fight off a bunch of Yakuza goons at 300 MPH, whilst the damsel in distress is sitting inside blissfully unaware. I have to admit the action in this scene is thrilling to watch, perhaps one of the highlights of the movie.

To call this movie wildly uneven would be a giant understatement. Now, I don’t mind the slower pacing that allow the characters to breathe, so long as it doesn’t become tedious. By the time we get to the third act, the movie seems to have lost its footing entirely. Starting with Logan being showered by arrows like a pin-cushion, all the way to the final battle with a giant mechanized robot that resembles the Silver Samurai in the comics. The whole fight sequences are loud and relentless but somehow they had little impact to me.


I read a comment in one of the major blogs saying something about how this film “…fetishize and exotic-ize elements of Japanese culture for Western consumption” You know what, I kind share that sentiment. But the biggest letdown for me is that I was hoping that the Japan-setting is an integral part of the Wolverine story as in the comics, how his time in that country shapes who Logan is as a character. Instead, we get more of an overdone fish-out-of-water story of a reluctant hero feeling ‘trapped’ in a place he doesn’t want to be in. Not exactly a groundbreaking story by a long shot. Director James Mangold and writers Scott Frank and Mark Bomback tried too hard to create an introspective and something of substance, but in the end it proves to be quite a superficial endeavor. I don’t think if I knew more, nor cared for, the character than I did before seeing the film.

Final Thoughts: So much promise… but ultimately a letdown. I expected a great deal of emotional gravitas from the story, but I didn’t connect with Wolverine’s Japanese journey as much as I had hoped. Even the big reveal that sort of brings Yashida and Logan’s relationship full circle lacks an emotional bite.

Yes, I think this one is an improvement over the first Wolverine film, but unfortunately, only by a smidgen. Hugh Jackman said he’s achieved the best physical form in this movie than he’s ever before. Indeed he’s in the best shape of his life, and it’s impressive to behold, if only the film itself were in as good a shape.

Thankfully, this movie doesn’t dampen my enthusiasm for the X-Men franchise. In fact, the post-credit scene that ties it to the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past is easily my favorite part! I think this one curmudgeonly mutant who ‘doesn’t work well with others’ is actually far more watchable in an ensemble than as a lone wolf.

2.5 out of 5 reels

Thoughts on this movie? I’d love to hear it!

The Sun is shining… a WordPress Family Award

It’s been a while since I participate in a blog award thing-y, but my good friend Michael from It Rains… You Get Wet kindly bestowed me this beautiful award recently. Hey, who doesn’t like awards? Plus, it gave me a chance to nominate my fellow bloggers, so why not spread the love 😀


One of the rules of this award… [with powers, comes responsibility as it were], is that I have to answer these 10 questions about myself, so here goes!

1. Favorite Actor

[who’s not a household name yet]


Richard Armitage

The question is, why is he NOT a household name yet [sigh]

He’s my pick for the next Bond, Batman, Nathan Drake, futuristic Robin Hood… and pretty much any role that’d benefit from a deeply-masculine yet soulful hunk with acting chops to boot!

2. Favorite Food?

Oh, too many to name but I’d have to say Indonesian Fried Rice, complete with chicken satay, fried egg and shrimp crackers. YUM!


3. Favorite non alcoholic drink?

Well I don’t drink so my indulgence is Starbucks’ iced chai or caramel macchiato, with whip cream on top. Yum!

4. Favorite Animal?

Oh that’s a toughie. I guess it’s a tie between cats and dogs, as I grew up with both growing up. I even had one of my kittens Jill (named after a character from an Aussie soap opera Return to Eden) that nursed on my Pekingese dog Floppy. She lost her mother and she thought Floppy was her mom!! I wish I had a photo of that.

5. Favorite number?

Hmmm, I don’t really have one but I like the number 7.

6. Favorite Color?

I’ve always been into cool colors, so blue, green, turquoise… but lately I’ve been obsessed with seafoam green!


7. My Passion?

Well isn’t it obvious? 😀 Movies of course and writing/talking about ’em. I’m also into Fashion and Travel, as you can see in my Pinterest boards.

8. Favorite Day of the Week?

I love Fridays for obvious reasons, but also because my hubby & I always go out to dinner on Friday nites, followed by home cinema movie-watching after 😀

9. Favorite Flower?

I love non-traditional flowers, so anything but roses 😀 I guess if I have to pick just one, it’d be the Mokara Orchids as they’re so exotic and simply gorgeous! My late mom used to grow Orchids when I was growing up, so the flower always reminds me of her 😀


10. Favorite soundtrack from 2013?

Pacific Rim of course. Still obsessed with this one, it’s such a good workout music, too!

Award Rules:

  • wordpress-family-awardInclude the award’s logo in a post or on your blog.
  • Link to the person who nominated you.
  • Answer 10 questions about yourself
    (use these or come up with your own).
  • Nominate 10 bloggers.
  • Link your nominees to the post and comment on their blogs,
    letting them know they have been nominated.

Blogs I’m passing this award to:

  1. Keith and the Movies
  2. Classicblanca
  3. The Focused Filmographer
  4. Cinematic Corner
  5. Inspired Ground
  6. The Warning Sign
  7. Tim’s Film Reviews
  8. Rorschach Reviews
  9. Movies and Song 365
  10. Whoa! This is Heavy!

I deliberately not nominating those that Michael have nominated, and yes I nominate others outside the WordPress platform as well. Sorry if I didn’t nominate you, but I can only pick 10 😀 In any case, I understand if you guys choose not to do this post for whatever reason. I hope you would though, even if you pick at least five questions and answer them on this post.

Well, HAPPY FRIDAY everyone! What are YOUR movie-watching plans?


This post is part of Cinematic Katzenjammer’s NOT-SO-SECRET SANTA REVIEW SWAP blogathon spearheaded by Nick. When I signed up to do this a month ago, I was a bit nervous what movie I’d end up getting, ahah. Well, it turns out to be a pretty fun movie!

TREMORS (1990)

TREMORSposterA small town gradually becomes aware of a strange creature which picks off people one by one. But what is this creature, and where is it? At the same time, a seismologist is working in the area, she detects _tremors_. The creature lives underground, and can ‘pop up’ without warning. Trapped in their town, the town-folk have no escape.

Director: Ron Underwood
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Fred Ward, Finn Carter, Reba McEntire

I read on IMDb that although Tremors was not a big hit during its theatrical run, the film became a runaway smash in the home video market, and ultimately tripled its original box office gross with VHS sales and rentals. I’ve actually read a couple of reviews not too long ago and seems that this film is well-loved, some consider it a classic. Well, now that I’ve seen it, I totally see the appeal.

There’s an inherently likable and charming quality about this movie. It starts off with two handymen Valentine Mckee (Kevin Bacon) and Earl Bassett (Fred Ward), two friends who have big dreams that some day they can make something out of themselves and perhaps the key to that is to leave the tiny town Perfection, Nevada. But just as they threw everything in their beat-up truck to get out of town, strange things start to unravel and they soon realize they just might be trapped in Perfection after all.


The movie poster pretty much gave everything away. We know there’s something lurking beneath the ground, swallowing the town’s sparse residents one by one, but the suspense build-up is pretty good. A grad student Rhonda (Finn Carter) happens to be in town’s desert to study the bizarre seismic activity, which turns out NOT to be volcanic vibrations after all. The three of them ended up teaming up to outsmart the 30-foot giant worms with eel-like tongues. Turns out there are four of them to be exact, and they grow more aggressive with each victim they devour.


Inspired by 50s monster flicks, Tremors is more humorous than scary. The attack scenes are actually not as gory as I expected, I mean people do get swallowed alive but these monsters are more disgusting and gross than terrifying. What makes the movie so fun are the characters! Kevin Bacon is perhaps the most successful out of the other actors in this movie (not counting Reba’s music career that is). Over two decades and about three-dozen movies later, it’s amazing that Bacon still looks pretty much the same as he was here. In any case, Bacon and Ward have a nice chemistry and their constant banters are amusing. The addition of Rhonda adds a bit of playful sexual tension amongst them. The ‘pole vault’ scene is a fun to watch as Rhonda got a brilliant idea to jump from boulder to boulder as the monsters can’t get to them that way. I include the clip here below:

I feel that this movie is great to watch with a group of friends, as there’s that sense of community where the people all band together to survive. The townsfolk are full of quirky characters as well. There’s Walter Chang (Victor Wong) who owns the only convenience store in town, which ends up becoming one of the hiding place until those monsters are smart enough to rattle the house down to eat them. Then there’s the gun-happy couple Burt & Heather Gummer (Family Ties Michael Gross & Country Music star Reba McEntire), seemingly ready for WW III with their stockpiles of ammunition. The scene of them blasting off one monster with every possible weapon they own is hysterical!! The monsters themselves are kind of goofy looking, well in a gross way, and surprisingly they’re not as dumb as they look.


So overall it’s quite an enjoyable horror-comedy, so thanks Nick for the movie ‘gift.’ Considering how popular this movie is, now I’m glad to say I’ve seen it. Apparently it’s Ron Underwood‘s feature film debut, which ends up being a rental hit that spawned three sequels and a Syfy network TV series! Underwood is now back doing TV work following the major flop that is The Adventures of Pluto Nash.

Tremors is a perfectly solid, cheesy B movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously nor try to be more than what it is. Not really interested in the sequels though, I’m sure it’s not gonna be as good as the first one anyway.

4 out of 5 reels

Thoughts on this movie? Well, let’s hear it!

The Flix List: Top 10 Movies from the first half of 2013

This list is rather late as we’ve already passed the halfway mark of the year a few weeks ago. As you know, because of personal circumstances, I had to take a blogging/movie-viewing hiatus for a while, so I missed a few screenings of what could’ve made my list: Mud, The Bling Ring, World War Z, etc.

In any case, my list contains a couple of movies that had been released last year internationally, but I included it here as I’m using the USA release dates. Now, when I say ‘top movies’ it’s sort of a cross between a ‘best of and favorite’, so the criteria is that these films made an impression on me, combining the virtue of being entertaining, deeply moving, thought-provoking, and indelible. Rewatchability is a factor but it doesn’t account as high as the other virtues I’ve mentioned, because some of the films here are more of a one-time-viewing-only types (for me anyway), but I still very much appreciate the artistry and passion that goes into making them.

So without further ado, I present to you my TOP 10 list (in reverse order):


10. Disconnect (full review)

10DisconnectThis film seems to have been overlooked as I barely saw any promos or articles on this one. It’s certainly not an easy film to watch as the subject matters are VERY unsettling: cyber-bullying, teen pornography, etc. I said in my review that I felt drained at the end of the film as there’s barely any humor injected here to break up the intensity. But I’m glad I saw it, and I was quite impressed by Andrea Riseborough and Frank Grillo, two actors I hope would get more roles in Hollywood.

9. Monsters University (full review)

9MonstersUI was a big fan of the original so even though the idea of any sequels is iffy, it was a lot of fun to revisit the delightful characters of Monstropolis. Mike Wazowski remains one of my favorite Pixar characters of all time, so right away I was fully invested in his journey. Pixar delivered once again in crafting a heart-warming story that’s nostalgic and relatable. The campus life is full of mirth and riotous fun, but not without emotional issues we humans can easily identify with.

8. The Angels’ Share

8AngelsShareKen Loach is no stranger to social commentary in his films and this could be his lightest one yet. By ‘light’ I don’t mean frivolous however, no siree, there’s a great deal of turmoil and mayhem surrounding the protagonist Robbie (played brilliantly by Paul Brannigan despite his lack of acting experience), but it’s also a story of hope and second chances. Oh, and it’s also hilarious! I was so fortunate to be able to interview screenwriter Paul Laverty who wrote this Scottish comedy gem. Do yourself a favor and rent this movie!

7. Iron Man 3

7IronMan3I was ready to dismiss this movie but you know what, somehow Tony Stark & co. managed to still be quite entertaining. I’ve listed 10 reason why this movie beats my expectations, as Shane Black deftly crafted a fish-out-of-water plot that gets the flamboyant billionaire out of his comfort zone. I for one enjoyed the ‘twist’ of the story, plus the humor and spectacle all come together to give us pure escapist entertainment. Of course, one’s enjoyment depends how jaded you are with superhero movies. I for one think there’s still enough juice left in this installment to entertain.

6. Stoker (full review)

6StokerMost of FC readers know I’m not one for disturbing movies, but there’s something so mesmerizingly beautiful about Chan-Wook Park‘s English language debut. It’s incredibly atmospheric and nearly every frame has such a delicately eerie quality that lingers long after the film’s over. Superb performances all around, especially Mia Wasikowska and Matthew Goode. The latter played against type to great effect, so I’m glad he ended up getting cast here instead of Colin Firth. Highly recommended for fans of cerebral thrillers.

5. The Reluctant Fundamentalist (full review)

5ReluctantFundamentalistThis is another tough film to watch but one that I’m glad I put it on my watch-list. I saw this during MSP film festival, and it’s one I don’t mind seeing again. Mira Nair takes a controversial subject matter of terrorism with care, as in essence the film is more about the Pakistani protagonist Changez living in a world rife with fear and suspicion. I was hugely impressed by London-born Riz Ahmed in the title role, portraying a deeply-conflicted who’s highly intelligent and charismatic. Even though there’ve been films of this subject done in the past, this one manages to set itself apart as it tackles a story that’s not often explored but certainly worth telling.

4. Star Trek Into Darkness (full review)

4StarTrekIntoDarknessJJ Abrams managed to make me interested in the Star Trek universe, which is quite a feat in itself. The strength of this movie is the zippy and fun tone, boosted by the chemistry of its cast and eye-popping special effects. Of course I have to mention the excellent casting of Benedict Cumberbatch, who somehow manages to still upstage the already-awesome Enterprise crew led by Chris Pine with his decidedly theatrical performance. It’s one of the funnest movies of the Summer to be sure, for sure I’ll be getting the Blu-ray 😀

3. The Kings of Summer (full review)

3KingsOfSummerI went in to this movie pretty much blindly as I only read the quick summary on IMDb and not knowing any of the cast. Well, it turns out to be a delightful surprise that I knew it’ll end up in my Best list of the year! This is a Summer film that offers a humorous but meaningful diversion from the loud tent-pole movies, with gorgeous nature scenery truly celebrates the beauty of the season. There have been countless of coming-of-age films out of Hollywood, and I think this directorial debut from Jordan Vogt-Roberts is an excellent addition in that sub-genre!

2. Man of Steel (full review)

2ManOfSteelWell, it shouldn’t be a surprise to you that this movie would be in my top 5, right? 😀 It took me a while to process it the first time I saw it, I mean the scope of this movie is massive. But the more it sat with me the more I appreciate it, despite the CGI-overloaded third act. Superman is a tough character to crack, figuratively and otherwise, but somehow Chris Nolan, David Goyer and Zack Snyder managed to create an imaginative origins story full of spectacle but also full of heart. I love how the relationships between Kal-El and his Kryptonian and earthly parents are explored in great depth here. The casting is top notch all around, led by the first Brit in the role, Henry Cavill, who’s more than up to the task to provide of strength and vulnerability. Given my undying love for Superman, Man of Steel certainly did not dampen my love for this Kryptonian hero.

1. The Hunt (full review)


Some films are so deeply affecting and impressively-made that the minute you left the theater, you knew straight away it’s going to be the one to beat in a given year. I had to sit down for a few minutes to take it in after the film’s over. My hubby and I looked at each other and we’re like, ‘WOW, that was something wasn’t it?’ Mads Mikkelsen is nothing short of outstanding as Lucas, a man on the hunt, a kindergarten teacher whose life suddenly got turned upside down as a seemingly ‘innocent’ lie runs amok in his tight-knight Danish community.

Director Thomas Vinterberg shrewd, minimalist style creates a highly tense, unsettling atmosphere that really gets under your skin. The lush and evocative cinematography by Charlotte Bruus Christensen creates a captivating contrast between the serene-looking scenery and the increasing inner tumult within Lucas as things spin out of control. This is definitely a film not-to-be-missed, folks. Even with all the big-budgeted Summer movies that have come along since, this is one of those films that you won’t soon forget. I hope they’d get some nominations come award season.


These aren’t stellar by any means, but it was pretty entertaining, some are a pleasant surprise to me as they’re not even my go-to genre. So yeah, I’d recommend these for a rental!

WORST of the year so far:

I’m glad I’ve been able to avoid what’s poised to be stinkers like Grown Ups 2, Tyler Perry’s Temptation, Movie 43, etc. but these are pretty terrible in their own right. It’s not even worth seeing on a plane IHMO.

UPVOTE please

So that’s my Best/Worst list of the year. Thoughts on my picks here? I’d be happy to discuss ’em with you 😀