Mini Reviews of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 & Colossal

Hello there folks! It feels like it’s been ages since I wrote my last review, but it’s actually just a week ago. Well, I saw two Charlie Hunnam films in two weeks… The Lost City of Z and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. I really enjoyed both, the latter is enjoyable though probably not your thing if you don’t like Guy Ritchie’s frenetic style. I’ve liked the rugged Brit for some time but I’m really quite taken with him now, uh-oh. It’s not like I have time for a new crush now though, ahah, but I sure want to see more of the bloke 😉

So here’s my review of the last two recent movies I saw:

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Ok so I have to admit the release of this one sneaked up on me. If it didn’t show up on the weekly press screening list I wouldn’t have known it’s coming out. I was one of the few people who think the first one was just okay, not spectacular. I did rewatch it months later and found it to be entertaining, but nothing that warrant a sequel. But hey it’s Marvel, of course there’ll be a sequel if it hits $100mil.

Well the team is back in full psychedelic color and fun retro 80s music. This time the main plot is basically to unravel the mystery of the protagonist Peter Quill’s true parentage. It might’ve been better to release this in June around Father’s Day, not that there’s anything particularly profound about the father/son bit though. It’s tough to care for their relationship when it’s so thinly written, I didn’t even particularly care for Kurt Russell‘s casting.

Just like the original, the best part of the movie is the team spirit and all the bantering between the supporting characters. I still find Rocket (the raccoon voiced by Bradley cooper) and Drax (Dave Bautista) the funniest characters, and I’m glad they seem to beef up their roles a bit more here. I’m getting a bit tired of Baby Groot, there I said it. Yes it’s cute at first but after a while it’s just meh. I also don’t find Chris Pratt all that charming anymore, or maybe I still haven’t recovered from how awful Passengers was). There’s also more focus on the sister rivalry between Gamora (Zoe Saldana) and Nebula (Karen Gillan) that’s not particularly interesting. The only parts I did find quite moving is the plot involving Yondu (Michael Rooker). Oh, they also added a new character Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and her banter with Drax is quite amusing.

I feel like the novelty factor of the first movie quickly wears off. What seemed to work in the original just seems recycled this time around. Even the retro music sounds kinda meh to me. Director James Gunn & co. seem to put more effort in having a visual spectacle than an engaging story, but then again that’s kind of what I expected from this sequel. Overall, it was entertaining for two hours but nothing sticks in my mind and definitely not something I’m keen on seeing again.


Colossal (2016)

I saw the trailer on Friday night and immediately decided to see it the next day. I decided I didn’t want to know anything about it other than the trailer, and y’know what, it’s refreshing to go see a movie rather ‘blindly’ like that.

The concept for Colossal is pretty bizarre and it’s definitely ripe for some comedy gold, but I find it to be a pretty engaging drama as well. The story centers on Gloria (Anna Hathaway),  an out-of-work party girl forced to leave her life in NYC when her boyfriend (Dan Stevens) kicked her out. So she moved back home to her parents’ abandoned house, while at the same time a giant creature came out of nowhere destroying Seoul.

In the trailer it’s made clear that there is Gloria is somehow bizarrely connected to this phenomenon, and when it’s revealed how, it’s really quite hilarious! I don’t want to give too much away because I really think you should go into this movie knowing as little as possible, but there’s an interesting message about friendship and taking responsibilities for one’s action.

It’s kind of a coming-of-age moment for Gloria, and her character evolution is quite believable.  I have to admit I’m not Hathaway’s biggest fan but she is quite effective and relatable here, which makes me root for Gloria despite her obvious flaws. I also like Jason Sudekis as Gloria’s childhood friend Oscar, who’s more than just a comic relief in the movie. However I feel like his character is oddly written, it’s as if the revelation to his true self seemed to come out of left field. But at least his character has an arc whilst Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell as Oscar’s friends barely registered.

Overall I enjoyed Colossal immensely. It was amusing with some thoroughly enjoyable moments. I haven’t seen anything by Spanish writer/director Nacho Vigalondo before, but I applaud his originality and wit, even if the execution isn’t perfect. The movie is so absurd at times but therein lies the charm. It reminded me of Safety Not Guaranteed, which I also saw on a whim a few years ago, with a bit of Pacific Rim thrown in.

I highly recommend this one if you’re in the mood for something out of the box.


Well, have you seen either one of these? What did YOU think?

FlixChatter Review: The Fate of the Furious (2017)

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The first Fast and Furious film came out 18 years ago and no one would have predicted that it would became one of the most successful franchises in Hollywood. Heck, when I saw the third sequel The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift, the worst in the series, I thought for sure we won’t be seeing anymore Fast and Furious films. Boy was I wrong, the later sequels somehow became more financially successful than the previous ones.

The eighth film in the series begins with Dom (Vin Diesel) and his now wife Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) honeymooning in Cuba. While there Dom ran into a mysterious woman who turns out to be a super cyber terrorist named Cipher (Charlize Theron). Cipher wants Dom to help her steal some super powerful weapons from the US, Russian and German government so she can start World War 3. Of course Dom being Dom, he refused but Cipher is holding someone closes to him hostage and if he won’t do as she says, that person will be killed. That’s pretty much the basic storyline for this entry, Dom has to betray his team/family and throughout the film, there are tons of car chases, explosions, shoot outs and of course good looking people running around in skimpy clothes.

The script by franchise’s regular Chris Morgan is pretty simple, he knows his audience and fans of the series won’t be disappointed. I do have some issues with the script, I won’t spoil it here but he tried to wrap everything up from the last two films that kind of made the previous pictures irrelevant. Apparently, they’re planning to make two more films after this one. Stepping into the director’s chair this time is F. Gary Gray. I’ve enjoyed some of his previous work and it’s obvious he was chosen because he’d worked with most of the actors in this film in the past. With a reported budget of $250mil, Gray staged some pretty crazy action sequences, including a pretty fun big car chase through the streets of NYC. But compare to the previous films, especially the ones directed by Justin Lin, his action sequences lacked energy and kind of boring. A climatic chase that involves a submarine could’ve been a lot of fun but he decided to inter cut it with some silly flashback sequence that explained a “twist” that most viewers could’ve seen miles away. I think he and his editor should’ve done a better job with what I assume was the most expensive sequence to shoot for the film.

As for performances, Diesel is again took his role way too seriously and he even shed tears in one scene! I think he needs to simmer down with his performance in the next one and have a good time. On the other hand, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Jason Statham knows the kind of film they’re in and having a great time with it. Their bantering gets the most laughs and of course they look good kicking butts. I don’t remember when The Rock’s character Hobbs became superhuman but he’s somehow fights like Superman in this film. Theron is moving to more action related films in this phase of her career and she’s great as the Bondish supervillain. Heck I think the Bond producers should cast her as the main villain in the next Bond film. The rest of cast were fine as usual and they even introduced a new pretty boy to replace Paul Walker. Clint Eastwood’s son Scott is now the new team member and I’m sure we’ll see more of him in the future films. Also returning is Kurt Russell as a super secret government agent who provides Hobbs and his team with everything they need to stop WW3 from happening. Last but certainly not least is Helen Mirren who seemed to have a great time in her small a cameo role.

I have some issues with the script, mostly of the “twist” towards the end but otherwise, I had a fun time with this latest sequel. Fans of the series should be pleased with it since it delivered what they wanted to see. Big car chases, shoot outs and of course explosions. So if you’re planning to see it, go to the biggest screen you can find and hopefully it’s equipped with Dolby Atmos.

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Have you seen The Fate of the Furious? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: The Hateful Eight (2015)

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Continuing his obsession with the spaghetti western genre, Quentin Tarantino has made another self-indulgent film that may divide some of his hardcore fan-base. Personally I thought it’s an entertaining picture but not one of QT’s best films.

Set in a post-civil war Wyoming winter storm, Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L. Jackson) is deserted on the road. As a stagecoach approaches, he meets a bounty hunter named “The Hangman” John Ruth (Kurt Russell) who’s escorting a prisoner named Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) to the nearest town for her hanging. Warren asked Ruth if he can catch a ride to a mountain pass safe point called Minnie’s Haberdashery. Once they’re on their way to Mannie’s, they ran into another stranded individual named Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins), who said he’s the new sheriff at a town where Ruth and Domergue are heading to. Arriving at Minnie’s to escape the roaring storm, Ruth keeps a steady eye on Domergue, sussing out other customers, including Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth), Bob (Demián Bichir,), General Sandford Smithers (Bruce Dern), and Joe Gage (Michael Madsen), while stagecoach driver O.B. (James Parks) tries to keep out of the way. As the strangers attempt to figure one another out, paranoia soars, pitting the gunmen in a contest of storytelling as they try to wield lies before they brandish guns.


Just like other Tarantino’s films, the story is broken up to chapters, but told in a linear style. Tarantino seems to love his own writing, a little too much in case of this film. While I do enjoy the dialogues by all the actors, the film’s first half tends to drag a bit. At nearly 3 hours long, it could’ve used some trimming. Despite my qualms about the first half though, once the story gets going, QT knows how to ratchet up the tension and when the bullets starts flying, it’s a vintage Taranto’s film.

The performances by the actors were pretty great, especially Russell, Jackson and Leigh. The entire film is built out of monologues and these actors were up to the task by delivering some over-the-top lines. This being a QT film, the N-word and F-word has been uttered many many times.

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Tarantino and cinematographer Robert Richardson decided to shoot the film in 65mm and it looked spectacular. I’ve seen the film twice, once on a 70mm presentation and the other on digital. To be honest with you, I prefer the digital presentation only because the 70mm theater I saw it at wasn’t properly set up and there were film scratches the screen. Not many theater has the ability to set up 70mm screen properly anymore so I think I would’ve enjoyed the 70mm presentation much more had I seen it in a proper set up. But I’m still happy that Tarantino is one of the few directors who still insist on shooting his films on high quality film.

The Hateful Eight may not be one of QT’s best films but it’s one heck of a good time. If you can stomach the bloodshed and of course QT’s over-indulgent dialogues, then you should check it out.

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So have you seen The Hateful Eight? Well, what did you think?

Everybody’s Chattin + Trailer Spotlight: Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight

Happy Midweek everyone! Two more days until Friday 😀 How’s your week so far? It’s kind of a s-l-o-w week for me and there’s been no Instagram updates from my dahling French crush so I’m missing him so much I could barely concentrate on anything today. Yes I live for Stanley Weber these days [sigh]… he is EVERYTHING!!!!

ehm, now that I get that out of the way…

… about those links…

Cindy posted a heartfelt tribute to the late author David Foster Wallace a while back, the subject of the recent film I saw, The End of the Tour

Mark wrote a retrospective piece on Top Gun that got me all nostalgic

In response to the recent box office bomb Fantastic Four, we’ve got a review from Keith that confirmed my dread, whilst Eddie offers up some suggestions on how to fix the franchise.

Two directorial debuts from excellent Aussie actors: Josh wrote about Russell Crowe’s debut The Water Diviner, while Tom wrote about Joel Edgerton’s The Gift

Meanwhile, Natalie reviewed this New Zealand horror comedy Housebound

Last but not least, Chris lists his picks of Best Songs of the Decade so far.


Time for question of the week

The Hateful Eight almost didn’t happen due to a script leak in 2014 by Gawker. If you follow this news, you’d likely know that QT ended up withdrawing the lawsuit against Gawker. At Comic-con last July, Tarantino said that “…it was the first draft that leaked online and he expected to write two more to get to a point where he was ready to shoot” (per THR).

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In post-Civil War Wyoming, bounty hunters try to find shelter during a blizzard but get involved in a plot of betrayal and deception. Will they survive?

Check out the brand new trailer:

Image Source: The Playlist' Tumblr
Image Source: The Playlist’ Tumblr

I’m not a big fan of Westerns, but this one looks intriguing. QT sure knows how to cut a trailer, and the visuals look fantastic, as to be expected. The only thing is, I don’t know if I want to see Wintry scenes right smack dab in the middle of Winter when this movie’s released.

The cast is astounding… We’ve got QT’s perennial favorite Samuel L. Jackson, plus Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tim Roth, Demian Bichir, Bruce Dern, Michael Madsen, Amber Tamblyn, Walton Goggins, etc. Channing Tatum gets top billing on IMDb but I barely see him in the trailer (?) I’m bummed that Viggo Mortensen didn’t end up joining the cast because of scheduling conflict.

Fans of 70mm format rejoice! [I’m looking at you Ted ;)] as the film will be shown in its Ultra Panavision 70 presentation. Per IMDb, the film will be released on December 25 of this year as a roadshow presentation in 70mm format theaters only before being released in digital theaters on January 8, 2016.

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So are you excited for The Hateful Eight?

Friday Question: Movies with Great Ideas, Poor Execution?

TGIF everyone! Certainly glad the weekend is approaching. Well, another week of blah at the cinema, nothing opens this weekend that I really want to see. Seems like aging Hollywood actors dominate the big screen with Stallone starring in Bullet to the Head, and Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, Christopher Walken makes up a trio of aging con-men in Stand Up Guys. They all face off against a bunch of young’un zombies in Warm Bodies.

For today’s post, I thought I’d open things up for discussion on a topic that certainly every moviegoer has an opinion on. It’s a subject matter that’s been covered frequently by movie editors and bloggers alike, but it’s always fun to revisit again as there are perhaps as many movies that fit into this ‘great concepts, poor execution’ category than those we consider great or rubbish. I think science fiction films ‘suffer’ the most, though of course it’s not limited to that genre.

InTimePosterA perfect example is In Time. This movie actually came up in a discussion at a happy hour after work the other day. Someone mentioned how fascinating it was to imagine living in a world where time is a currency. The rich can live forever but the rest of the population wish they could “…wake up with more time on my hand than hours in the day.” That’s what Justin Timberlake’s character said in the beginning in the movie.

I really like this concept but the direction just lack a certain finesse that prevent this from becoming a sci-fi classic like say, Minority Report. In my review I said that a capable director like Christopher Nolan or Ridley Scott could’ve taken this intriguing oncept to new heights.

I had issues with Timberlake’s casting and I’m convinced that another, more skilled actor would’ve been far more compelling to watch, but I think Andew Niccol’s direction is an even bigger issue. Somehow the whole thing felt like a frivolous action movies where a bunch of good looking young stars simply look cool running around, getting involved in shootouts and car chases without any real sense of danger. It’s a shame as the store could’ve been explored more in-depth and the film could’ve been more thought-provoking.

My pal Ted offered up three more examples:

AugustPosterAugust (2008) – This little seen film about the downfall of dot com boom in late 90s/early 2000s starred Josh Hartnett as the Founder/CEO of a hot tech start-up dot-com company. The film showed how he ran his company to the ground and went from being worth $200mil to basically being broke.

Since I’ve been involved in many tech start-ups, I was excited to see this film. Unfortunately it was poorly-written and directed. Instead of focusing on how he ran his company to the ground, the film only focuses on how big a big of jerk Hartnett’s character was to his friends and family. By the end of the film, I wanted to punch his character in the face. With a concept like this, they should’ve hired a more experienced and talented director/writer instead of some no name director and writer. What this film got wrong, Fincher and Sorkin got right when they made the excellent The Social Network a couple of years later.
,,,

EscapeNY_PosterEscape from New York (1981) – I actually thought this was a very good film but I wish it has bigger budget because it’s such a high concept idea that I didn’t think it got executed properly. It’s not the filmmakers’ fault, I mean Carpenter and his crew did their best of what was available to them. There’s been talk about the remake the last few years and I’m actually looking forward to seeing it. With today’s technology and bigger budget, it could be an epic action film that the original wanted to be.

FirefoxPosterFirefox (1982) – This was a rare espionage thriller that Clint Eastwood had made. It’s about a pilot (Eastwood) who was sent to Russia by the CIA to steal an advance jet fighter that the Russian had created. I really like the script; it has everything you want for a spy film, unfortunately I thought Eastwood’s direction was very clunky. It’s probably because he hasn’t done this kind high concept film before and I felt like he’s in over his head. It’s quite a big budget production for its time but the special effects looked awful, again the technology just wasn’t advanced enough for this kind of high concept idea.

I think John Carter is another one that came to mind, though I still think the film isn’t nearly as bad as what the critics made it out to be. But given the significance of the source material that actually inspired such a lucrative franchise like Star Wars, it could’ve been far more memorable. To a smaller extent, the film I saw recently, Puncture, also comes to mind. I mentioned in my review the similarity between that and Michael Mann’s The Insider, both based on a true David vs Goliath story involved in a legal battle. Whilst Mann’s direction was riveting from start to finish, this one just wasn’t nearly as engrossing. Sure you could say that Chris Evans just isn’t Russell Crowe, but while that’s certainly true, the main problem I have is with the style and direction of the Kassen brothers. It happens to be their film debut, so I guess that explains it.

Well, there’s no shortage of such movies and Hollywood keep churning them up, too! In fact, a lot of great concepts from a variety of sources, be that books, graphic novels, what have you, get butchered by poor execution in film adaptations.


So what movies you think have great potential but the intriguing concept is botched by poor execution?