Marvel’s ETERNALS – final trailer!

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Wow, can’t believe it’s been three months since Marvel released the first ETERNALS trailer. Well, since Shang-Chi‘s first critical reactions have been mostly positive, I guess the studio did not want to lose momentum for Phase 4. So behold ETERNALS’ final trailer!

The Eternals, a race of immortal beings with superhuman powers who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years, reunite to battle the evil Deviants.

Well, in my last post about the first trailer, I pointed out how Disney did not mention the fact that Chloe Zhao is an Oscar-winner, well they finally highlighted that this time around, woot!! 

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She’s also credited as one of the screenwriters here, which shows just what a multi-faceted talent she truly is.

Now, before I get to the entire trailer, can I just say… Richard Madden!!! 😍 Has he ever looked more beautiful than in this trailer?! Even his name IKARIS is super cool! Woo wee… I’m glad I saw this trailer sitting down … [fan-self] 

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Sorry, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, ehm … the visuals are simply astounding!! I love the grand, majestic, mystical, ethereal [insert your own adjective here] of this movie!! Shot by DP Ben Davis, I’m already waiting w/ bated breath about seeing this in as big a screen as possible! Wish we still have an IMAX theater here in the Twin Cities.

I also love the choice of um, ethereal music here as opposed to the ‘The End Of The World‘ they used in the first one. I don’t know if this is Ramin Djawadi‘s score or not, but in any case I’m excited he’s scoring this!

Story-wise, given these are largely battles involving Celestial beings, it’s good that the humans don’t get lost in the shuffle… Kit Harrington seems to be one of the faces of the human race here as Dane Whitman and he asked the questions on everyone’s mind to Gemma Chan‘s Sersi…

Dane: “Why didn’t you guys help fight Thanos?
Or any war and all the terrible things throughout history.”

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Sersi: “We’re told not to interfere with human conflicts unless the Deviants are involved.”

Dane: “By who?”

Then Sersi looked up with kind of a worried/horrified look on her face and we see THIS creature… I’m not sure what that thing is exactly (sorry I haven’t actually read ETERNALS comics), but I’m curious to find out!

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So who are the Deviants?

Well, thanks to Games Radar, here’s some info about the Eternals’ arch enemies:

The Deviants’ history dates back as far as the Eternals’ and, strangely, humanity itself. Their existence is down to the Celestials, a group of extremely powerful cosmic beings who possess the ability to create and destroy life. The Celestials visited Earth millions of years ago when humanity’s ancestors roamed the globe. Ziran the Tester, the Celestials’ geneticist, experimented on a group of primates and created the Deviant subspecies.

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Unlike the Eternals (who are attractive, immortal beings) or ordinary humans (who are genetically balanced), the Deviants are abnormal. They’re often referred to as “the changing people” due to mutations in their DNA – mutations them leave the Deviants with odd coloured skin and other deformations. No two Deviants are alike, and those considered too mutated, or not mutated enough, are exiled or killed. The Deviants’ jealousy over the Eternals’ physical beauty and defined superpowers has locked the two species in a never-ending war – a millennia-long battle that is certain to form the plot of the MCU movie.


In the first trailer, they also left the funny bit to the end and kept the most part serious, even solemn… we’re talking about an ominous apocalyptic threat after all. Despite the Eternals being Celestial beings, they seem to be living like regular humans… going to a laundromat, playing board games, etc. I LOVE seeing Brian Tyree Henry here, I’ve always been impressed with him no matter what movie (even Godzilla vs. Kong!) Poor IKEA won’t be happy with that final trailer scene, ahah… but really, even a relatively fit human can easily break an IKEA table like that 😀

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I think this trailer answers a bit more questions compared to this first trailer, but not bog us down with too much info. Surely it does a great job making me even more excited to see this come NOVEMBER 5!


So, what do you think of ETERNALS’ final trailer? 

THIS JUST IN! Marvel’s ETERNALS first trailer

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Boy, Marvel sure takes their time in releasing the trailer! It’s nearly a month ago today that Chloe Zhao won two Oscars for directing and producing NOMADLAND, finally we got the first trailer!

The Eternals, a race of immortal beings with superhuman powers who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years, reunite to battle the evil Deviants.

Ok, so no mention of the fact that the director is now an Oscar winner, but then again Marvel hasn’t been the kind of studio that touts the filmmakers’ cred like placing ‘From the director …’ on the posters. I suppose they’ve always relied on the project’s IP and the movie itself, which have consistently been first rate.

I have to admit the use of ‘The End Of The World‘ threw me off a bit, it just feels a bit melodramatic but then again, perhaps the movie will be more dramatic (even romantic in nature) than the usual action-packed superhero film. Naturally we an expect a ton of lush pastoral landscapes set during Zhao’s favorite magic hour. The DP is Ben Davis (Captain Marvel, Doctor Strange). Though we haven’t heard the music yet, I’m excited to hear Ramin Djawadi‘s score, glad to see him back in the MCU after the first Iron Man movie!

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So details are scarce from this trailer, as it focuses more on the high-level concept of just who these beings are and why they are here on earth. Based on what I’ve read, the ETERNALS focus on these god-like ancient alien beings known as Celestials, who lived on earth and shaped its history and civilizations. They’ve provided tools to build things, water for life, etc. though they don’t seem to actually interact with humanity, more observant in nature. 

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What’s interesting is, given the story spanned thousands of years, ETERNALS will be set far back in ancient times. Someone on Reddit posted that photo of the Babylonian monument Ishtar Gate (constructed in 575 BC) in Mesopotamia, modern day Iraq.


“We have watched and guided. We have helped them progress and seen them accomplish wonders.Throughout the years we have never interfered, until now.”

Salma Hayek’s Ajak narrates the trailer. That ‘until now’ part seems to refer to the time earthlings are being attacked by evil monsters known as Deviants, which happens after the events of Avengers: Endgame. Of course there are a bunch of questions in that regard:

Where were the Celestials when Thanos was wrecking havoc and obliterating half of humanity??!

If they’d been around for centuries and walked amongst us, were some of these Celestials affected by the snap?

And just who are the Deviants? Are they even bigger threats than Thanos to warrant the Celestials reuniting to protect us??

Perhaps they’re reveal more in trailer 2 for those non-comic-book readers.

I for one am curious to see the journey of Gemma Chan‘s character Sersi, who Marvel president Kevin Feigi himself has reportedly say as the actual lead of the ensemble. Interesting how her name is similar to Cersei Lannister of Game of Thrones, and her character is shown to be with two actors from GoT, Richard Madden and Kit Harrington. I like Gemma and was disappointed in her tiny role in Captain Marvel, so I’m glad they finally give this talented Brit a meatier role.

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For the most part, the trailer is pretty majestic and stately looking, but the tone switches to something more comedic after the title reveal. It reminds me of the post-credit scene in the first Avengers where the superheroes are eating shawarma together, albeit here the setting looks more like a Thanksgiving feast.

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Who’s Who in the ETERNALS

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I LOVE just how diverse this cast is in terms of gender and race! It’s really about time and I hope that diversity and inclusivity in casting will eventually be the new normal. Thanks to this article, here are a quick cheat sheet as to what characters the actors are playing:

  • Angelina Jolie as “fierce warrior” Thena.
  • Richard Madden as  “all-powerful” Ikaris.
  • Kit Harington as Dane Whitman (who is human).
  • Barry Keoghan as “aloof loner” Druig.
  • Gemma Chan as “humankind-loving” Sersi.
  • Kumail Nanjiani as “cosmic-powered” Kingo.
  • Salma Hayek as “wise and spiritual leader” Ajak.
  • Lauren Ridloff as “super-fast” Makkari.
  • Brian Tyree Henry as “intelligent inventor” Phastos.
  • Lia McHugh as “eternally young, old-soul” Sprite.
  • Don Lee as “powerful” Gilgamesh.

So based on what I’m seeing so far, I’m even more excited to see this movie! ETERNALS is released in the US on November 5th, 2021. Can’t wait!!


So, what do you think of ETERNALS’ first trailer? 

FlixChatter Review: Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Ok so even though I grew up watching a ton of Disney animated movies (especially the ones w/ princesses because that’s what many little girls do), I don’t immediately get excited for every new Disney animated movies that come along. In fact, you’d be surprised that I haven’t watched The Princess and The Frog, Coco, or even Moana [gasp!] – I know, that seems unthinkable since I’m a reviewer from Indonesia, right? In any case, when I first saw the trailer for this I thought it looked cool and yes, I’m always glad to see a movie with a largely Southeast Asian actors.

Raya and the Last Dragon is set in a fantasy world called Kumandra where humans and dragons lived together in harmony. I can’t help but think of How To Train Your Dragon after Toothless became friends with Hiccup. But then some ominous monster that looks like purple/black smoke known as the Druun basically destroyed that harmony, which led to the dragons sacrificing themselves to save humanity by putting their magic into a Dragon Gem. It’s now 500 years later and Kumandra is now split up to five regions/provinces: Heart, Fang, Spine, Tail and Talon. The opening scene shows young Raya (voiced wonderfully by Kelly Marie Tran) with her wise father Chief Benja (Daniel Dae Kim), the leader of Heart Land discussing the upcoming visit from the other four regions. It’s clear from such a young age, Raya has always been a vivacious and quite fearless young woman and she’s been training to become the guardian of the Dragon Gem. It’s during this visit that Raya was betrayed by another young girl from Fang called Namaari (Gemma Chan, sporting a rather odd American-accent) that not only creates more division between the provinces, but also brings back the nefarious Druun that turns anyone in their path into stone.

I have to say that it took me a bit to get into the story as I was distracted by low-resolution of the screener I got. I’ve talked about it a big here, for some reason the picture quality just doesn’t look sharp which is a bummer given how dazzling the visuals and colors are. Even besides that, that’s quite a complex backstory that makes me think that smaller kids might not be the target audience here. Plus, some of the scenes of peril when Druun wreaks havoc over Heart land can be quite scary for some toddlers.

The movie then propels us to years later when Raya is now a young woman whose BFF (who doubles as a transportation mode) is a cute Armadillo-type creature named Tuk Tuk. She’s on a mission to collect the shattered gemstones from the other four provinces and in that epic journey she ends up awakening the last dragon Sisu (Awkwafina) from its slumber. The tone of the movie immediately shifts from drama to comedy as soon as Sisu wakes up. Awkwafina’s comedic style and Sisu’s constant state of bewilderment is quite amusing. Now, the last dragon might sound so magnanimous and dignified, but Sisu turns out to be such a bubbly, perhaps even nerdy type creature that looks like a fluffy, elongated pony with cotton candy colors. The interactions between Raya and Sisu, who unsurprisingly becomes besties right away, is a lot of fun, especially when the shape-shifter dragon takes form of a human (complete with cotton-candy colored mane). I have to say though, the constant tone-shifting feels a bit off at times.

In her epic journey, Raya also encounters various characters, some more interesting than others. 10-year old boat captain Boun (Izaac Wang) and warrior giant with a big heart Tong (Benedict Wong) add some emotional layers to the story, as they deal with familial loss and loneliness. But the con-baby Little Noi with her monkey friends, not so much. In fact her scenes are perhaps my least favorite and is not the least bit funny. The comedic bits don’t always work well here, but by the third act, the movie has already shifts back to drama mode with some thrilling martial-art action thrown in. The third act also attempts to balance the backstory of Sisu’s family and the final confrontation between Raya and her main foe Namaari, and for the most part it succeeds.

Directed by Don Hall and Carlos López Estrada, and written by Qui Nguyen and Adele Lim (the latter also wrote the rom-com hit Crazy Rich Asians), I appreciate the filmmakers’ (well the big mouse studio’s) effort to have diversity and inclusivity – creating a strong heroine in Raya and crafting a story that honors the many South East Asian origins. I read an article that says the production team visited Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam for their research, so you see an amalgamation of those regions represented in various forms in the film, whether it’s in the culture, martial arts, food, architecture, etc. Speaking of the food, the movie made me hungry looking at those scrumptious SE Asian cuisines and snacks the characters are eating!

I feel like I should address some of the criticism I read online about how it’s lacking specificity and that the voice casting are not all from SE Asia. As someone born and bred in one of the countries used as inspiration in the film, I actually think it’s a bit unfair to expect a studio like Disney to create a perfect film that pleases every SE Asian person who watches it. I’m also mindful that discussion about representation doesn’t actually end up being more divisive among the Asian community by focussing on our differences instead of what we have in common. I realize the plot is rather generic, which is to be expected as studios always try to appeal to as huge an international audience as possible. Perhaps it’s too generic that one critic (of Caucasian descent) said the story is a Chinese mythology [face palm] … obviously out of ignorance. But despite its imperfections, I do think cultural representation is always a good thing and it’s a trend in the right direction. I believe [hope] that this is NOT the last Disney film with a protagonist of SE Asian descent.

Now, in regards to that plot which is far from revolutionary, there are some good things to appreciate. For one, I’m glad they didn’t force a love interest plot on Raya (as they did in a weirdly vague way in Mulan). The story is already strong as it is with its focus on family, friendship, trust and forgiveness. The rather dismal view of humanity is a bit odd though, as one character describes Druun as “a plague born from human discord,” suggesting that it’s the humans themselves as the bringer or our own misery. Perhaps that’s a bit dark for a kids or even teens movie, but hey, at least there’s still the positive and always-timely message about the importance of family and unity to balance it all. There’s also a teachable moments about Raya learning to trust again, though I wish it were delivered in a less clichéd and derivative way.

Visually, the film is a marvel. And I say this despite the low-res quality of my screener. The rich, vibrant colors; lush, stunning vistas with pain-staking attention to detail; and the well-choreographed action scenes are fantastic to look at. The score sounds wonderful as well thanks to James Newton Howard, incorporating some Southeast Asian instruments and themes. I especially love the action scenes between Raya and Namaari towards the end, and the fighting style and weaponry mixes various martial arts from SE countries, i.e. Indonesian’s Pencak silat, Muay Thai kickboxing, Filipino Arnis, etc.

But I think the real ‘weapon’ of the film is the heroine and Tran truly brought Raya to life wonderfully as a multi-layered character. Her voice alone is lovely to listen to, but she’s able to convey SO much emotion with her voice, especially in her desperation. There is something universal about Raya and her purposeful journey that should appeal to anyone of all ages, regardless of our ethnicity and background. A hopeful, feel-good story is something we all need today, and this is one that a whole family could enjoy for years to come as well.

Have you seen Raya and The Last Dragon? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Ok so first, a confession. Even though my bestie had lent me her book of Kevin Kwan‘s Crazy Rich Asians over a month ago, telling me to read it before the movie opened, I didn’t get a chance to do so. I finally started reading it right after I got home from the advanced screening… and suffice to say I’ve become a bit obsessed with anything CRA. In the weeks following to its release, the buzz has been strong, and it keeps building up steadily. Naturally, being that I’m likely the only Southeast Asian film blogger here in town (as well as one of the few SE Asian filmmakers), I can’t help feeling giddy about this movie.

A bunch of reports surrounding this movie has pointed out that it’s been 25 years since Joy Luck Club was released that we have a big studio-backed Hollywood film based on a book by an Asian author, featuring a mostly East-Asian cast, and directed by an Asian director. It’s impossible to dispute the historical importance of this movie in terms of representation, which comes at the perfect time as there’s growing pressure in Hollywood to feature greater diversity on screen. For me personally, it feels incredible to see so many characters who look like me reflected on the big screen!

But setting all of that aside, every film still has to be judged on its merit. Yes, it’s an important film, but is it any good?

Well I’m happy to report that (borrowing from Ken Jeong‘s line in the movie) HELLS YEAH! It’s perhaps the best rom-coms I’ve seen in a good long while. It has the exact mix of romance AND comedy, wrapped in a lavish, colorful and vibrant concoction. It’s extravagant surely, over the top even, but the ‘go big or go home’ sensibility seems appropriate here. Can love actually conquers all? When the economic and social class is SO wide, would true love suffice?

The film’s protagonist is Rachel Chu (Constance Wu), a NYU economics professor whose life is about to be turned upside down when her dreamy boyfriend Nick Young (Henry Golding) takes her to Singapore to attend his bestie’s wedding. Somehow Nick’s been able to conceal the fact that his family is not just rich or filthy rich, but crazy rich. But thanks to an astute family acquaintance who eavesdropped when he was at a Manhattan, everyone in his social circle learn that Nick is coming home with his girlfriend in tow. I love the way director Jon M. Chu showcases the way the news goes viral on screen, which serves as a way to display local flavor in its expression, i.e. alamak which is an expression akin to OMG used by Malay and Singaporean people.

As someone who wasn’t born in the US but came here for college, I feel like I’m always in two worlds, never quite belonging anywhere. So Rachel’s fish-out-of-water story strikes a chord with me, and Wu deftly displays a sense of alienation in her performance. Soon she realizes who she’s dealing with. ‘I didn’t know you’re like the Prince William of Asia,’ she tells Nick, to which he quickly replies, ‘Oh don’t be ridiculous, I’m more of a Harry.’ The timing couldn’t be more perfect for this fairy tale, given we just saw Prince Harry married ‘commoner’ Meghan Markle just this past Spring. In many ways, CRA follows the familiar tropes of a rom-com, yet Chu and writers Peter Chiarelli and Adele Lim manages to transcend the genre with astute social class commentary. It’s Cinderella meets Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, but yet maintain its own uniqueness in terms of voice and style.

Wu and Golding has a sweet, charming chemistry together that makes you root for them to be together. It’s a crucial ingredient in any rom-com which this movie gets right. As the breakout star of Fresh Off The Boat, Wu seems like the natural choice, but casting Golding, an unknown talent who’s never acted before in a film, is a brave move that pays off amazingly. The British-Malaysian former travel presenter is easy on the eyes with a killer smile, even killer voice, and has that Classic Hollywood look about him. I call him the Asian Gregory Peck. I’m curious to see him in other roles in the future, certainly a fresh new leading man we could use more of in Hollywood.

The movie also benefits from a plethora of memorable supporting characters. Michelle Yeoh is perfectly icy as Nick’s strictly-principled and dutiful mother. Her resentment towards Rachel is more than just cattiness, and even when she’s at her most severe, I can’t help but sympathize with her. I have to say I can’t get enough of Awkwafina as Rachel’s hysterical bestie Peik Lin. I feel like she barely had any screen time as the token Asian character in Ocean’s 8, so I’m glad to see her show her comedic chops to perfection here. She and the notoriously farcical Ken Jeong as Peik Lin’s dad provide some of the funniest bits in the movie. The makeover scene with Nick’s ‘rainbow sheep of the family’ cousin Oliver (Nico Santos) is a hoot! All the ladies playing Nick’s relatives also provide a ton of comic relief. I do have to mention Lisa Lu as Ah Ma, Nick’s powerful grandma, who often reminds me of my own.

I absolutely adore the luminous Gemma Chan as Nick’s fave cousin/confidante Astrid. In houte couture, the jet-setting heiress is the epitome of elegance, grace and sophistication. Her crumbling marriage to her handsome-but-not-so-rich husband (Pierre Png) sends a not-so-subtle message that nobody’s life is perfect and even the ultra rich have problems like the rest of us. Chan’s performance is tinged with the right amount of poignancy and melancholy.

This movie lives up to its title in more ways than one. Obviously the set pieces, costumes, cars, palatial houses, etc. potently gives us a glimpse of how the crazy rich live. Then there’s the obnoxiously-crazy behaviors of Nick’s relatives, especially the imbecile frat-boys led by Bernard (Jimmy O. Yang). Nick practically has to escape the outrageous, hedonistic bachelor party with his groom-to-be BFF Colin (Chris Pang) which leads to a rare quiet moment in the movie.

The sheer absurdity of the crazy rich lifestyle is not lost on the filmmakers, as they unabashedly poke fun at them with zippy one-liners. There’s even a hilarious line poking fun of Donald Trump’s bathroom. The movie does an amazing job in showing the class structures within the rich society, something that Rachel isn’t at all familiar with. It’s as if we, the general audience, is living vicariously through her as she’s trying to navigate her way in this ultra-exclusive club.

What I admire most about this movie is that, amidst the world of high fashion and dizzying parties, the richly-drawn characters remain front and center. Despite the razzle-dazzle glamor, it never feels like the movie is style-over-substance because we’re always reminded of what’s at stake. The filmmakers did a good job to make me feel invested in Rachel & Nick’s story, as well as in their respective families’. The mahjong scene towards the end is an emotional one that packs so much cultural & personal significance, down to that one quick glance between the two mothers. I appreciate that Kwan’s book and the movie portray various multi-dimensional, complex women with formidable inner strength. It’s one of the rare rom-coms that is not about the girl chasing the boy, but a girl finding her self worth.

But you can’t review this movie without mentioning the amazing visuals. It’s really a treat for the senses. The cinematography by Vanja Cernjul is breathtakingly beautiful. I haven’t been in Singapore in years and it looks like a fantasy land in this movie. The music by Brian Tyler is fun, energetic but also romantic. In fact, I was enjoying the soundtrack on youtube as I was writing my review. I love Kina Grannis‘s gorgeous cover of Can’t Help Falling in Love during the wedding scene.

I don’t usually say much about box office numbers in my review. But I am SO rooting for this film to do well. Obviously, all the studio execs see is green, so there’s a lot at stake in terms of its box office performance whether they’d think it’s viable business to have make Hollywood movies with predominantly Asian cast like this one. I honestly believe the success of this movie would have a big impact in diversity and inclusion in storytelling, not just for Asians but for every content creator, talents and moviegoers of color.

On top of its historical significance, Crazy Rich Asians is a great movie, period. I laughed, I cried, sometimes both at the same time. Thanks Jon M. Chu and the phenomenal cast, it’s such a joyful experience that’s both funny AND romantic. I sure hope there’ll be a trilogy just like the books!


Have you seen Crazy Rich Asians yet? I’d love to hear what you think!
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