Friday, September 5, 2008

The Mummy 3

The Mummy 3 - Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor

the mummy 3

This 3rd installment of The Mummy series sees its focus on Asia (China particularly). Retired Rick O'Connell(Brandon Fraser) & wife Evelyn Carnahan-O'Connell (Maria Bello) joins in once again with son, Alex O'Connell (Luke Ford) to combat the evil & greedy Emperor Han (Jet Li).

The Mummy 3 - Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor

With a setting in olden days Shanghai, the plot is full of the usual adventures that Rick is accustomed too. Only difference, this time round, his son has found romance with the daughter Zi Yuan (Michelle Yeoh), Lin (Isabella Yong).

Why You Should Watch This Movie
If you are the sort who loves Indiana Jones, this has a close resemblance to its adventure of good vs evil in lots of heart pounding battle scenes. The battle towards the end maybe common in most adventure movies, but nevertheless is rather amazing. In fact the CGI throughout the movie is well done, as expected from a huge blockbuster like this.

The showcase of old Shanghai is quite eye catching as well.

Why Not
For the already known & too familiar plot, like the many adventure movies, making the 'adventure' less interesting.

And if you are here to watch Asian icon Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh or even Hong Kong actress Isabella Yong, you'll be a lil disappointed. Jet Li is masked in the devil suite nearly all the time, while Michelle Yeoh's & Isabella's roles are rather minor for this huge movie.

Conclusion & Rating
Truly one for adventure fans only. Do not go in with too much expectations - or higher expectations than the previous 2 movies before.

The Mummy Trailer

3 stars.


Wall.E - Animation

walle, wall.e

Disney is back once again. Or more so, Academy Award winning director, Andrew Stanton, with his group of talented group at Pixar teams up to create this robot cartoon in the future.

Earth by then is only a waste land and people live on spaceships. Meanwhile, robots like Wall.E (whose full name is Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) is created to clean up the earth.

His daily routine brings him to find 'interesting' items made by humans - things that are common to us, but which amuses the robot. But nothing beats the special day when a space robot, Eve, comes to earth and stumbles him.

The story then revolves on these 2 robots trying to 'save planet earth' for humans. And of course, in between the romance of the robots build up.

Why You Should Watch This Movie
To see how a rather silent movie that goes with very little dialogue, and yet remains understandable. And it is interesting to see a romance between robots, set in a rather futuristic time, when robots control humans.

Why Not
If you have very high expectations on animation, this movie may not give the same all time high like Finding Nemo or even Monsters Inc.

Conclusion & Rating
One of the better animations to date, especially with so many animated movies coming out now. One for the whole family!

Walle Trailer

4 stars.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Money No Enough 2

Money No Enough 2

Remember the big blockbuster from Singapore - Money No Enough? Well, it's back!

Set in modern day Singapore, 3 adult brothers lead their lives in a cash driven society.

Eldest brother, Yang Bao Hui (Henry Thia) is the responsible, caring but not rich and 'blur'.

Second brother, Yang Bao Qiang (Jack Neo) is the successful businessman making monies from real estate. However, he is a big gambler in his business & take huge risks, plus he has a selfish wife.

Third brother, Yang Bao Huang (Mark Lee) is also a rather successful businessman, who has just started to taste some success. Problem is his business thrives on 'bad people' both from his suppliers & customers. And he doesn't treat his wife well.

The three brothers are united by their aging mother who loves her children very much.

As the title goes, its about money - from having it, to not, and overcoming it.

Why You Should Watch This Movie
Because it's down to earth and full of reality. Nearly everyone can 'feel' for the characters in the movie if you are from Singapore, or even if in Malaysia. Either you are in the situation or you know someone close in it.

You get to see the real life of Singaporeans - from living in HDB flats and even in big bungalows. It is really very Singaporean (and the reason why many 'heartlanders' love Jack Neo's movies).

For fans of Singapore's acclaimed director, Jack Neo, well this movie is close to his signature styles of very local content. And interestingly, it's good to see talented Mark Lee playing the slightly less Ah Beng here.

Why Not
This movie is too real, and to one big extend is too 'dark'. If you expect this to be a comedy where you are to laugh your hearts out, be warned for it's most likely to give you the opposite effects.

And the selfish needs of people are shown here, much to which is overdone, though not necessarily unreal.

Conclusion & Rating
If you can get the perception that this is not really a full comedy (but yet with some jokes & humour in between... and lots of sad depressing moments), then this movie can be worth watching.

Money No Enough 2 Trailer

3 stars.

*It opens in Malaysia 28.8.08

Friday, August 1, 2008

The X Files - I Want To Believe: Movie Review

The X Files: I Want To Believe.

the x files movie

What do you do with a successful TV series, seen globally? Come out with a movie of course. But the X Files have already done that in their first movie in 1998. With such success, a continuation is obvious.

The winning team of proucers, directors & writers come again together to create this 2nd feature film of The X Files - I Want To Believe. A new story with a winning team & catchy music score.

Here, an agent is abducted and the FBI seems to be a lil lost and hence needs the help of Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) & Mox Fulder (David Duchovny) who were now retired agents and pursuing their own lives.

However like it or not, they find themselves getting very much involved in this case of a series of girl abductions.

Why You Should Watch This Movie
If you like the mystery that evolves around the X Files (ie a fan of the TV series). This fiction movie stays quite close to its TV series of unsolved mysteries, up to the very last end.

For those who like movies which have some thought process, then this one is a good watch, as the case evolves each time with more clues.

Why Not
Somehow, a FBI movie seems a lil more suitable for the TV, especially when it is very close to the original TV series itself - only difference longer time & with a much more 'matured' agents.

Conclusion & Movie Rating
A superb movie for the thinking souls, that is if you don't mind the lil TV like drama. The rather catchy tagline lives up to its status.

The X Files Trailer

3.5 stars.

*Want to read the David's or producer Frank's blog? Read it on The X Files Official Site.

Batman: The Dark Knight Movie Review

batman, the dark knight movie

Synopsis (with some info from Warnerbros Batman).
The Dark Knight is another movie series of the successful DC comics of the action hero, Batman.

One on hand, there is Batman (Christian Bale), who together with the help of Liutenent Jim Gordon & District Attorney Harvey Dent, who plans to make a crime free city. However, on the other end is Batman's old faithful, enemy, the Joker (Heath Ledger), a rather crazy character who 'is not so serious' and likes to create havoc & trouble, for the sake of pure fun.

batman, the dark knight joker

The battle between the 2 builds up with both sides seems at times to be winning only to loose it in the end.

Why You Should Watch This Movie
If you are a Batman fan, you would most likely have watched this movie. Even non fans will be quite pleasantly surprised that this movie has turned out to be one of the better Batman movies of all time.

But the real winner here is not Batman , but the Batman villain - who else, but the Joker, or for that matter - the award nominee Heath Ledger. His superb acting as the crazy & care-fee Joker steals the show, and truly Batman is more like in the dark shadows than being the Dark Knight.

From the crazy laughs to when he gets real serious, the late Heath acted like a true talent.

Hong Kong is also a winner here in a way when Batmand does a 'stopover' to the Chinese city.

batman, the dark knight vehicle

As for gadgets wise, this Batmans has a fair bit, especially on his Batman suit & also the Batman vehicle - a rather futuristic motorbike that only superheroes use.

Why Not
The only setback in the movie is that as the many other super heroes, it is a lil fictional that the authorities don't know who Batman is. And in this Batman movie, the Dark Knight seems to have a weird computerised voice (did the other movies have it?).

Conclusion & Movie Rating

batman the dark knight joker

From 1960s to today, the Batman has reformed itself. If you are into action packed movies, a dose of fiction (or a lot depending on how you see it), like good acting and love Hollywood blockbusters, then head to the theaters now.

4 stars.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Red Cliff Movie

Mandarin movie.

red cliff movie, (赤壁 - Chìbì)/ The Battle of Red Cliff

Red Cliff (赤壁 - Chìbì)/ The Battle of Red Cliff is a Chinese epic movie that comes in 2 parts. It is set during the events during the End of Han Dynasty. Just like many other epic Chinese movies, the Red Cliff Part 1, sees 2 groups teaming up & collaborating to fight against their enemies.

The 'good team' is lead by Zhou Yu (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai) and Zhuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro). And together with the mighty spirit & tomboyish princess of Sun Shangxiang (Zao Wei), they managed to pull off the first attack despite their lack in army numbers.

In between, the 2 strategists show their war strategies & ideas which allow them to win rather effortlessly.

Why You Should Watch This Movie
1. The war strategies were superb. Unlike most battlefield movies that head to shoot/ kill with the usual attack plan, this movie introduces the Chinese war styles that is rather uncommon and good in trapping the enemies. This makes some of the war scenes very interesting & 'new'.

2. Beautiful sceneries & backdrop location in China, makes this a breathtaking movie journey.

3. There is some impart of lessons on life & Chinese culture which is done very subtly.

Why Not
1. The first 45 minutes was just a lil too complicated & without much direction. The war battlefield right at the start of the movie didn't help and in fact was a lil boring, especially when there weren't much clue yet.

2. This movie seems at times a lil loose and just a lil too much focus on the expressions of the actors faces. In some ways, it just seems like it is a big budget art film because of its rather long pauses.

Conclusion & Movie Rating
John Woo's attempt in making a Chinese epic is much desirable in bringing Asian movies to a new level. It is an ambitious attempt, which he has succeeded. He would have done much better if the script was tighter & the beginning a lil more clearer.

This movie should appeal to a wide audience including the non Asians for its Oriental appeal (script & philosophies). Definitely one of the better Chinese epic war movies and for that matter, one of the better war movies.

3.5 stars.

Red Cliff Trailer

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kung Fu Panda Movie

Synopsis (with info from Kung Fu Panda Official Site).

kung fu panda movie poster

The Kung Fu Panda movie revolves around Po (Jack Black), the 'son' of a bird noodle seller in a small village.

His father has plans for Po to take over the business someday soon. However, Po seems disinterested in it, and has dreams of becoming a kung fu warrior, despite having near zero experience in kung fu fighting.

But, true to animation style, there was an opportunity - when Master Oogway holds a competition to find the new hero to beat his old student-turned-bad, Tai Lung (Ian McShane),who is believed to be soon escaping from the tightly controlled dungeon.

Of course, the clumsy & inexperienced Po somehow managed to land himself this role, envied by the fellow kung fu mates, the Furious Five — Master Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Master Monkey (Jackie Chan), Master Mantis (Seth Rogen), Master Viper (Lucy Liu), and Master Crane (David Cross).

They were rather hostile towards him at first & do not believe in him being the savour, and especially so because they have been much more well trained in kung fu.

But, as the story unfolds, Po learnt a lesson that 'there is no secret' and that believing in oneself is the way to succeed. And so, with training, supervision & belief by Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), Po finally saves the day & beats Tai Lung.

kung fu panda movie, master shifu

Why You Should Watch This Movie
1. This is a movie for both family (kids) & adults. The storyline is tight & yet it manages to have the right humour at the right time.

kung fu panda movie, master tiger

The Master Tiger

2. Wonderful animation. The kung fu fighting & kung fu forms are comparable to that of real life.
3. For its beautiful China backdrop throughout the movie from mountain views to the village.
4. Animation fans will be glad to see the great details that went behind to make this Kung Fu Panda movie so real.
5. Apart from the teachings of good triumphs over evil, the belief one has within is imparted as well. This seems to be the key message here.

Why Not
Though this animation movie still lacks behind some of the all time favourites, but it's hard not to like this movie. Can't think of bad points, but maybe that it may seem a lil weird a Chinese backdrop movie with Chinese characters all in English.

Conclusion & Movie Rating
A must watch for all animation buffs & movie goers who want authenticity, humour & action.

4 stars.

Kung Fu Panda Trailer

Friday, June 6, 2008

Iron Man Movie Review

iron man movie poster

Synopsis (with info from Iron Man: Official Site).
This comic turn big screen sees Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr. starring as Tony Stark/Iron Man, a billionaire and a genius continuing his father legacy of war weapons in Stark Industries.

During his business trip, he was kidnapped and his body inserted with an electromagnet attached to his chest. The terrorist group has required him to re-invent a powerful missile that he had just created.

However, instead of building that, he went to create an escape plan by building a powerful suite which he could wear and protect himself to escape. That was the first Iron Man suit he created.

After his survival, he realised that the weapons he & his company created were not meant for his first objective - peace, but instead for war and mass destruction. That is where he plans to 'save the world' using his Iron Man suit, which he perfected over time.

The film also stars Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow and Oscar nominees Terrence Howard and Jeff Bridges and directed by Jon Favreau.

This movie is a joint collaboration between Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios.

iron man poster, robert downey, Gwyneth Paltrow

Why You Should Watch This Movie
If you like action-packed movies, or super hero movies. The effects are quite impressive, similar to those of what is expected from action-packed movies. And of course, if you are a big fan of the comic character of Iron Man itself.

Basically, it's a ride of Hollywood enjoyment.

Why Not
Because you will know the ending even before watching the movie. And because it's always the same Hollywood action-hero plot: good vs evil, with machines along the way and evil-in-disguise. It's just too predictable.

Conclusion & Movie Rating
A fun family action-movie suitable for the kids, minus a few steamy scenes. An okay watch, and will definitely be a big blockbuster, but not one that is a must see.

2.5 stars

Iron Man Trailer

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sex And The City

sex and the city

Synopsis (with info from Sex And The City Movie).
Based on the popular 6 episodes TV series of the same name, this movie stars fashion icon Sarah Jessica Parker as the successful author, Carrie Bradshaw. She's living in New York City with 2 of her girl friends - the happily married Charlotte (Kristin Davis) & workaholic lawyer Miranda (Cynthia Nixon). Her other friend, Samantha (Kim Cattrall) lives in LA with her actor boyfriend, Jason Lewis (Smith Jerrod) where she is his manager.

The movie is narrated by Carrie herself and is about her & her friends love stories (the getting in love - getting out of love). The highlight is the marriage-to-be of Carrie with Mr Big (Chris Noth) which just got 'big to bigger'.

There is lots of twists & turns in this love drama, showing how the lives of 4 friends of 40 year olds (& decently rich) living in New York city (Samantha flys to see them often).

Academy Award winner, Jeniffer Hudson plays Louise, the personal assistant of Carrie.

Why You Should Watch This Movie
If you are in love with the series, this is like a TV drama on big screen. Or if you would like to see a glimpse of a New Yorker (not sure if it's real enough) or you are a fan of New York itself. Of course, you'll need to like love drama movies.

Why Not
It's just too mushy and draggy. It feels like paying to watch the TV series on silver screen. And the storyline is just a showcase of their lifestyle - you are like sitting aside and seeing them in their everyday lives. There's not much build up apart from the wedding-to-be, which was okay. But after that, the film just continues to drag and though it does serve a purpose to show of a get-back of love, but for movie-wise, it becomes boring.

Conclusion & Movie Rating
2.5 stars for such a highly anticipated movie. If this movie is without the series backing, it most probably will flop in theaters along with other love movies.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Ayat Ayat Cinta - Verses of Love

ayat ayat cinta movie

Synopsis (with info from Ayat Ayat Cinta site).
Ayat Ayat Cinta is an Indonesian mellodrama movie but with a lil twists where Islamic virtues are protrayed in this love story. This movie revolves areound the virtuous Muslim protagonist who overcomes all obstacles of life maintaining pure ideals.

Fahri bin Abdillah (Fedi Nurli) is a poor, intelligent student who wins a scholarship to complete his graduate degree at Egypt's esteemed Al Azhar University. Very disciplined and dedicated by nature, Fahri embraces his life in Cairo, completing his studies and translation of religious books with full enthusiasm, exactly according to pre-determined targets.

He has another target too - that is to get married. But this becomes slightly difficult as he mentions that his religion doesn't allow dating. And even more so when there are so many girls who are sworn over by him.

The most distinctive - Maria Girgis (Carissa Putri), an open-minded Christian neighbour who is attracted to the teachings of the Holy Al Quran.

Then there is Nurul and Noura, but he eventually married the rich daughter - German Turkish, Aisha (Rianti Cartwright).

Things begin to get complicated when he marries Aisha with cases like he going to jail, court proceedings and more.

Why You Should Watch This Movie
If you would like to see and learn the positive side of Islam through a movie. This movie imparts knowledge on reasons for Islamic values (eg on polygamy, handling situations in times of uncertainty, and many more) - giving a better idea and maybe even clearing the mind on the often misunderstood religion.

Also, this movie is uniquely set in Cairo with quite breathtaking views.

Why Not
The never ending twist & turns in the movie - a lil too many towards the end. The movie could have ended at certain points, but to allow more drama, the ending became prolonged.

Conclusion & Movie Rating
This movie is worth the money for those interested in Asian cinema and Indonesian films, despite its poor ending.

3 stars.

Apparently, this movie is based by best-selling novel with the same title by Habiburrahman El. Shirazy.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Forbidden Kingdom

forbidden kingdom movie poster

This English script, comedy-fiction of Forbidden Kingdom movie sees an American teenager, Jason (Michael Angarano - Will And Grace, Lords of Dogtown, Seabiscuit), who loves kung fu fighting being transported into ancient world China.

His mission - to free the Monkey King from the spell of the evil Jade Warlord. The Monkey King was cast into a statue and will only be freed with the weapon held by Jason.

forbidden kingdom, jet li, jackie chan

Jason is lucky as he is helped first by Lu Yan (Jackie Chan - Drunken Master, Rush Hour) and also an orphan girl by the name Golden Sparrow (Yifei Lui). They were later joined with the Silent Monk (Jet Li - Fearless, The One, Once Upon A Time In China).

forbidden kingdom, jackie chan

Jackie Chan

forbidden kingdom, jet li
Jet Li

The movie shows the journey and bond of friendship of the 4 different characters - the drunken happy-go-lucky Lu Yan who were most times at loggerheads with the Silent Monk. And to help himself, Jason went to learn kung fu by the two masters with different techniques.

Why You Should Watch This Movie
If you are a kung fu fan, this movie is one of the must watch of all times - where 2 kung fu movie legends battle it out. It's the first time both Jet Li and Jackie Chan battle on screen.

It of course also shows the comedy hero Jacky Chan in a lil different drunken role, but still funny vs the on screen serious Jet Li.

battle scene, forbidden kingdom, jackie chan, jet li

More - the action choreography is done by Wo Ping who also did for The Matrix and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

Chinese and Hong Kong movie buffs will also enjoy this film as it has a little bit of Chinese influence, despite this being an international English movie.

Why Not
Though not fully a slapstick comedy, the storyline is rather lame and at times a lil too fictitious. Some may also find the jokes may be a lil silly at times too.

The CGI effects are also not too inspiring as to what we've seen around nowadays.

And if you expected much more action between the 2 kung fu legends, one may leave a lil dissapointed as there is only one scene between them. If they played a good and evil, then that may be better.

Conclusion & Movie Rating
If you are a fan of Hong Kong/ Chinese movies style or a fan of Jackie Chan or Jet Li, or even a kung fu fan, then go watch this - you'll definitely enjoy it.

Or if you put a lower expectation, then this maybe a good watch. Just don't hope too much.

Otherwise, there are other better movies around.

3 stars.

Escape From Huang Shi

children of huang shi movie

This movie apparently has 2 titles - another which is called Children of Huang Shi.

This true story is a sweeping but intimate story set against war-torn China during the Japanese occupation in the late 1930’s. The film revolves around an English war journalist George Hogg (by Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers), an American doctor-nurse Lee Pearson (by Australian actress Radha Mitchell) and the leader of a Chinese partisan group 'Jack' Chen (by Hong Kong actor Chow Yun Fat).

george hogg, escape from huang shi

George, trapped in China met 'Jack' Chen who helped and saved his life. Along the way, he also meets and falls in love with Lee Pearson. She apparently is also attracted to 'Jack', though the love story is not much of the highlight.

children of huang shi, lee pearson, jack chen

He together with Lee and also 'Jack' helped bring together and save a school of orphaned children, leading them on an extraordinary and ambitious journey for months across hundreds of miles of treacherous terrain, through snow-covered mountains and an unforgiving desert.

Along the way they discover the true meaning of love, responsibility and courage.

Why You Should Watch This Movie
Set in olden day China, the remake scene of Shanghai is awesome and full of grandeur. It was very real, even so the Japanese Headquarters. The sceneries across the Silk Road is another eye soothing experience.

Plot wise, this heart-warming true story is inspiring as it shows how the West & East work together for a common vision - that is to help the children. Without any experience, the journalist managed to groom the children to farming and learning English.

The war scenes are very real and shows what China went through during that period. Hisotry if learnt this way would be much more interesting and fun.

Fans of Chinese actor, Chow Yun Fat will be quite happy with his rather comfortable English now as well. Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Radha Mitchell played their roles well as well, especially Jon for soaking into his role from first terrified and scared to later a hero to the children.

Why Not
If you are a big fan of the actress who made a big star in Hong Kong and one of the most famous Bond girls, Michelle Yeoh, you'll be quite disappointed. Playing the role of a rich opium merchant, Madame Wang, her role in this movie was rather small. Clearly, the stars were the other three.

children of huang shi, michelle yeoh

Conclusion & Movie Rating
This production is worth every cent if you are keen to be inspired yet have an enjoyable watch.

4.5 stars

The Trailer

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Other Boleyn Girl

the other boleyn girl movie poster

The Plot (edited from The Other Boleyn Girl, Sony Pictures)
Based on the best-selling novel by Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl is an engrossing and sensual tale of intrigue, romance, and betrayal set against the backdrop of a defining moment in history.

Two sisters, Anne (Natalie Portman) and Mary (Scarlett Johansson) Boleyn, are driven by their ambitious father and uncle to advance the family’s power and status by courting the affections of the king of England (Eric Bana).

Leaving behind the simplicity of country life, the girls are thrust into the dangerous and thrilling world of court life – and what began as a bid to help their family develops into a ruthless rivalry between Anne and Mary for the love of the king. Initially, Mary (the younger of the 2 in the movie) wins King Henry’s favor and becomes his mistress, bearing him an illegitimate child.

But Anne, clever, cunninng, and fearless, edges aside both her sister and Henry’s wife, Queen Katherine of Aragon, in her relentless pursuit of the king. Despite Mary’s genuine feelings for Henry, her sister Anne has her sights set on the ultimate prize; Anne will not stop until she is Queen of England.

As the Boleyn girls battle for the love of a king – one driven by ambition, the other by true affection – England is torn apart. Despite the dramatic consequences, the Boleyn girls ultimately find strength and loyalty in each other, and they remain forever connected by their bond as sisters.

Why You Should Watch This Movie
The plot is very well built up and gives good insight on how things were done in the palace then. It also shows how terrible sex and lust can cause even a King to fall from grace, and the things that can happen when too much power is wielded onto someone. The greed of power is shown through the siblings father, Sir Thomas Boleyn.

If you are into old England and are into history then this movie is for you. the setting is well done with the costumes and all resemble closely to the time, just like the other old England movies on the monarch.

Why Not
This is an adaptation of the novel, and even the novel may not necessarily be accurate. It has actually gained a fair bit of criticism especially on grey matters which have no concrete proof.

The ending is a lil abrupt though it didn't affect the movie much but it finished a lil too quickly. And there is a fair bit of head chopping although the scenes are not shown.

This is a worth your monies - definitely will be in the eyes of the jury of the Oscar awards. 4 Stars.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

August Rush

august rush movie poster
First, before you guys say that this movie is a bit old for a cinema review (as the DVD is already out), well this is because the movie is only making its rounds here in Singapore now :)

The Plot
This Academy Award nominee is about a young boy who is in an orphan's home, and has not seen since his parents since birth. However, Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore) seems to knows that his parents are alive somewhere and can connect with them by listening to the music around him.

There is flashback in between showing how his parents were connected, and are musicians themselves. It starts with the parents first meeting each other and knowing one another, before a turn of events see them being seperated, before the baby was born. And their child was given away without even the mum (Keri Russell) knowing about it - a move done by her dad - making her believe that the child died at birth.

august rush movie, Keri Russell,Johnathan Rhys Meyers
However, she has always imagined of her son and hence the flashback continues on nearer and nearer and finally seeing the present lives of all 3 - father (Johnathan Rhys Meyers), mother and son.

The son in the meantime is in his own journey - running from the orphanage's home into big busy and bustling city of New York. He face challenges of making new friends and then running away from them as they are to cheat his money, and finally ending up in a church where he gets to be schooled for music. His talent is so great that he has his very own concert!

Why You Should Watch This Movie
If you are into dreams come true, this movie is a good fairytale story. This movie also has a good happy ending - a must for some movie goers.
Most of all, if you are into music, this movie will definitely touch your heart - from learning how to experience music, be inspired like the lil boy does, and simply get connected to it and through it.

The music scores are great as well (is also nominated in the Oscar Awards for Best Song).

Conclusion & Overall Rating
A good movie for a laidback time, especially on a stressful day. Besides it does have a feel good theme to it.

3.5 stars.

Secret Sunshine

secret sunshine poster

The Plot
This 2007 Korean movie is making its rounds in the arts circuit. Filmed & named after a place in Korea, Milyang, this movie sees a single mum life's journey.

After losing her husband, Shin-ae (Do-yeon Jeon) shifted to her former's husband's hometown with her son. She made good attempts at adopting to a new life and making new friends despite some were sceptical of her.

secret sunshine poster
However, one day, her son is kidnapped & killed. From there onwards, her life takes a dramatic turn and her emotions swing. She found Christianity to help her but eventually fall out from it.

Why Watch This Movie
If you are a Korean movie fan, or if you are an art fan. It will also appeal to those who want to know more on Korean's culture, especially of a smaller town compared of that to Seoul.

secret sunshine poster
It may also be worthwhile to watch the superb acting for Cannes Film Festival 2007's (Best Actress) - Do-yeon Jeon, which reminds a lot of Jodie Foster's movie roles. In fact all the actors here played their parts well, including Kang-ho Song (playing a bachelor who is in love with her) and her young playful son.

secret sunshine poster
However, it's 'hanging' ending despite a build up in the story may leave some very unhappy audience, even the ones who love art films.

Conclusion & Overall Rating
2.5 stars.

Secret Sunshine has won Best Film, Best Director (Lee Chang Dong) & Best Actress (Jeon Do Yeon) in the Hong Kong's 2nd Asian Film Awards.

Monday, March 17, 2008

10000 BC

10000 BC is an epic movie of prehistoric days. The director known for his use of visual effects (Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow), Roland Emmerich once again uses stunning visual effects in the movie.

The Plot
The film follows D'Leh (Steven Strait), a young mammoth hunter who is the son of a hunter that abandoned the village. He grows up rather lonely as his friends do not want to mix with him, except for Evolet (Camilla Belle). The village lives mainly through hunting, and no farming.

Hence when a mammoth herd was to come, the men hunters were to kill it for food & survival. D'Leh did this though his fight was a mere coincidence, as he couldn't let go from the net actually. Hence, although he was given recognition for his bravery, he declined it later.

Later, the village was ambushed and kidnapped many of his tribe mates and Evolet to be used as slaves. The journey then begins with D'Leh with the help of Tic Tic (Cliff Curtis) following the signs to save and rescue Evolet plus their tribe mates. He goes into a world beyond his, learning about the other tribes with different cultures and the big wide world - from jungle to the desserts.

In between he learns about his father and his role that is to not only save Evolet, but also to help all the other tribesmen who have been kidnapped as well by the make-believe gods, who were creating a huge pyramid.

Why Watch This Movie
For its stunning visual effects & cinematography. The top views at the mountains are stunning. And the visual make up of the pyramid is astounding and looks very real.

Even the scenes fighting the huge mammoths all seem very real.

Conclusion & Overall Rating
This movie has set high standards based on its publicity, but fall short on its rather simple & straight forward storyline. Still this is a good watch for movie buffs with time to spare.

2.5 stars

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Leap Years

Based on the novella by local Singaporean author, Catherine Lim, this is an English movie attempt by homegrown label, Mediacorp's movie arm - Raintree.

The Leap Years is about a hardworking studious girl, Li-Ann (the younger version played by Wong Li Lin; the elder lady by Joan Chen) whose birthday is on February 29. Being always teased by her friends, she finally fell in love with a stranger, Jeremy (Ananda Everingham) on one of her birthdays.

She is 'heartbroken' as the meet with Jeremy is only short as he had to fly home, and their next meet was 4 years next. This continues despite the fact that there are others interested in Li-Ann, and she even nearly got wed. However, her heart seems to have sealed with Jeremy.

At the same time the movie brings forward to the present on one day, which sees Li-Ann already married with Jeremy, and hoping for him to recover from the hospital.

Shot entirely in Singapore, and in the more hip areas, this movie showcase the modern & heritage part of the island-city (places like the Esplanade, central business district, CBD). Unlike most other Singapore films, this one clearly minus the HDB flats - giving the city the postcard views, just like what the tourism is promoting.

It does showcase a true part of the lifestyles of the middle-upper class Singporeans to one extend. The English used also sounds quite local - minus the slangs of 'lei' & 'lor' - the type of English you will hear when in business meetings. And Wong Li Lin has the looks to portray the typical career girl here - modern and successful. The only part that doesnt really reflect Singapore is the use of Cantonese in between, rather than the more popular Hokkien dialect. This is most likely done for 2 reasons - Cantonese is more marketable and secondly, to give the more 'atas'/ high class image.

This English movie attempt is worth the watch. And I was surprised the cinema was fully packed.

The only minus is that as the movie didn't managed to show how different the past & modern Singapore. Each 4 years still looked pretty similar, which is something not quite true in this fast changing city. And the movie does get a lil draggy at times as well.

Saying all these, this is one good step to more Singapore English movies to come, and hopefully like they say, will later bring them an acclaimed Oscar award.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Jodhaa Akbar

Set in the 16th century, this movie revolves around the marriage between kings to strengthen position and power. King Bharmal gave his daughter's hand, Princess Jodhaa (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) to Emperor Akbar (Hrithik Roshan).

However, this marriage was not as simple as it was because it was a marriage of 2 different cultures & religions - Jodhaa was a Hindu while Emperor Akbar was a Muslim. Her insistent of wanting to remain a Hindu was allowed by the Emperor, but with lots of learning, understanding and giving in by both parties - and that was part of the focus of the movie.

Beautiful videography and with one of the best music scores, this movie is Bollywood's answer to Hollywood's big epic movies, or even the Chinese epic movies. The story which shows that despite the conflicts & misunderstandings of 2 religions, there is much to gain when respect is given.

The music scores fits well in the movie. It still has the Bollywood style music and dances, though less than the usual Bollywood movies, and done at very appropriate moments. This will definitely go down well with the audience, and not to mention, the beautiful Aishwarya Rai with her beautiful captivating eyes.

Just see the posters and one can get the picture of this beautiful epic, where one will learn and appreciate both cultures, religions and amazing architecture.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ah Long Pte Ltd

This Singapore-Malaysia collaboration is Jack Neo's fiercest attempt to enter the similar Malaysian market. Featuring famous Singaporean leads - Fann Wong, Mark Lee (who has acted together with Jack in many other movies), Richard Low, and a huge Malaysian supporting casts - from KK, Daniel Tan, MY FM deejay Lam Tak Wing/ Jack Lim & Lai Ming.

This 'dark comedy' shows an attempt of the new Ah Long leader, Wang Li-Hua (Fann Wong) to transform & reform her triad to be more responsible, and use less violence, hoping to appeal more to the public. Not used to this new method and thinks that they are trying to take his 'territories', the other triad leader is angry. In the meantime, the cunning retired boss of Li-Hua is also angry of the 'weaker' style and wants to make a comeback.

Hence, there is the rush & running around of each triads, with quite a fair bit of violence in between. It shows some part of how the Ah Longs work - to get back their monies, their regular meetings between the heads, and their 'lavish' lifestyles.

One interesting scene is the durian football scene where durians were used to play rather than the usual ball. Another heart-stopping moment is also during the revenge by a group of youngsters who lost their parents because of the ah longs - violence begets violence.

This typical Singapore movies stick closely to the slapstick comedies the city-state was first introduced to back in the late 90s. Jack's usual subtle play on Malaysian politics is here as well - and one needs a fair bit of observation to see the connections. However, if mentioned, it does clearly shows.

To add to it, it's mainly shot in Malaysia - and that is one move from the usual HDB scenes seen in the Singapore films. There is also a mix of Cantonese to suite the language used in KL, and even the Mandarin is more Malaysian style!

Talented Mark Lee acts well here, playing as a soft sissy beside the gritty Fann Wong. This role suits her well with her fierce look as the triad leader.

If you are local Singaporean, then this is a decent movie to watch. It should do reasonably well in Malaysia for its topic and the fact it's a Malaysian-ised movie to one extent, and also because there's lots of funny moments in between.


Hong Kong actor - director, Stephen Chow is back after his successful movie - Kung Fu Hustle. This movie sees him both directing & acting. He playes, Ti, a poor construction worker who struggles financially because he sends his son to a private school. His love for his son is strong and he instills good life values to him, despite them being poor - as his philosophy in live is.

His son, Dicky, can't seem to fit well in the school because of his background of being poor. He is often bullied by both his friends & even the teachers.

One day, his dad brought a 'toy' he found at the garbage area - and it turned out to be an alien dog. Named as CJ7, it becomes Dicky's best friend, and although not helping him in less important things that Dicky wanted, but helped in more important situations.

This movie shows the strong bond of a father-son relationship, and how often young children may say things they do not mean, only to realise (& regret later). Chow also instills the value to human beings - integrity and not about one's status. The relationship between CJ7 & Dicky also shows the deepness of a friendship.

This movie is a heart warming story that may divert from Chow's previous all laughter movie, and some may not be used to it, especially if there are sad scenes during Chinese New Year! But, despite that, it is still a good effort & a thumbs up for Hong Kong films - in terms of movie direction, moving away from its slapstick comedies. The big budget Columbia Pictures gives the weight to the movie as well, with good CG effects - and of course its wonderful marketing plan, as Chow says.

It also goes well with Xu Jiao's acting skills - a girl playing the boy role as Dicky.

Is the CJ7 character similar to Chicken Little?
Maybe a lil, but to me, it's still quite distinct. Yes, maybe the big fluffy head, but CJ7 is more dog like than chicken :)

CJ7 & its pal, Dicky.

The famous lil chicken, Chicken Little.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Kung Fu Dunk

This live action Chinese New Year movie sees a talented orphan boy, Shi-Jie (Jay Chou), who grew up in a kungfu school, only to be expelled after a brawl.

He meets up with Wang-Li (Eric Tsang), who brought him into the world of basketball, joining the univeristy team. An 'agreement' was formed between them - Wang-Li will market the talented Shi-Jie, while Shi-Jie is to combine his talent & skill of both kung fu and basketball and win honours.

It sees the journey of how they both overcome obstacles, learning about trust, and also on bonding and friendship.

This movie sees Jay Chou playing a different role we usually don't see from him - a not so smart guy. However it is made up with his cool basketball tactics. His fast paced & catchy music scores for the movie has added lots of punch to it, delivering at the correct times.

Lots of Matrix styled action in the courts, good sense humour, and a lil bit of romance makes this movie a great watch, especially this Chinese New Year. It's light and has a good ending.

The only part I think should have been improved is the posters from the movie, which could do a lil better to attract more.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


All I can remember on this movie is a group of friends who are so silly to follow the lead to save his girlfriend from monsters. Along the way, they die one by one, but are not affected, and just continue with his mission.

One of his friends is the 'cameraman'. He can't stop holding the camera and keep on talking nonsense, which is very irritating, and doesn't add any value to the show at all - except how silly this show is. The movie is shown from his camera - bluriness and all.

If the producers/ director wanted this movie to be real, then make it from someone's view (from his eyes), rather than someone carrying a video camera everywhere even in times of danger, and to die because of that.

The poster is way too good for this movie. They obviously have good marketing here, but it's really is style without substance. Even giving tomatoes (rotten) would be too kind.

Sweeney Todd Movie

Based on a fictional character of Sweeney Todd & the musical of the same name, this movie is set in old, gloomy & dark London. This musical film is about Benjamin Barker (Johnny Depp) who was unjustly sent to prison by Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) in order for him to get his wife.

Benjamin returns to London years later to revenge, changing his name to Sweeney Todd and teaming up with the pie shop lady, Mrs Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter). Together in his quest of revenge, he kills men who come to shave at his upstairs barber's shop, and she using the corpse's as meat in her meat pie.

In between, his new friend wants to save his daughter, who is prisoned by the Judge.

The first 20 minutes of the show is a real bore, which is a little slow and too much singing. However, if you can withstand the first 20 minutes of the show, then you'll enjoy this musical, especially the singing & the music score.

Seeing how they team up is rather amusing, though it can make some 'sick'. Killing here is made like another routine, blood is seen everywhere, and eating human pie is like normal.

Johnny acts well here - deep, angry and revengeful, while Helena sings & acts incredibly too, playing a less serious, but cunning person as well. Of course, Alan who has his usual stern serious look and voice brings out the Judge just as good.

A good watch.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Mad Money

A stellar cast of Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah & Katie Holmes sure sets this movie in the right mood.

Diane plays Bridget, the wife of her out-of-job corporate husband, who found themselves staring blank with bills to settle. Not wanting to give up, she applied and got a job as a janitor - yes, the once rich housewife working as a janitor in the Federal Reserve Bank at Kansas City.

Because of the need of more cash, she tempted to steal, where she formed an 'alliance' with Nina (Queen Latifah)and Jackie (Katie Holmes). Their easy money & not getting caught got them to want for more, especially the greedy Bridget.

However, their soon accumulated wealth got the officials wondering where the monies were coming from, which got them into a frenzy.

This movie is acted very well by Diane who after all these years still have the star power. She played her role superbly - both as the rich wife, and the unglamorous janitor. And of course, not to mention, the ever magnetic Queen Latifah, who played her mama role. The beautiful Tom Cruise's wife, Katie adds to this powerful line up, acting as a blur young & naive girl.

A light hearted movie for everyone :)

Monday, January 21, 2008

Mission Sex Control

First, before you misunderstand, this comedy-movie is on sex control, and not sex. Produced in 2006, this movie has recently been screened in Singapore.

This movie is based in 1971 when the Korean government launched a nationwide birth control policy with the aim to achieve higher income per capita status. To achieve this, the government sent their agents to the villages to teach & educate families on family planning.

Hyun-joo was sent to a small remote village - Yongdu Village with that mission, only to receive much resistance to contraception & the whole idea on family planning.

However, she didn't give up and eventually had Suk-gu & his friends to listen to her. To further get his & the residents support, she applied for him to be the new chief in the village. His promise in return is a '0 birth rate' in the bottom ranked village for 1 full year - a very hard & difficult task indeed for the ignorant folks.

It was this position that got him lots of trouble and losing friends & even nearly lost his family members.

This Korean movie has its typical Korean movie style - great photography, settings, beautiful actress... and also the constant non-predictable ending with twists - which actually is the spoiler here. The at times funny and at times emotional plot simply confuse the emotions - comedy or romance or ...?

Maybe this movie doesn't stand out because I've got a dose of too much similar style Korean movies... and maybe that is one of the reasons why Korean silver screens are not doing as well with their soap opera counterparts too.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Across The Universe

This Beatles themed musical film is set in the 1960s with Jude (Jim Sturgess) who leaves UK to the United States in search of his American G.I. father. While searching for his father at Princeton, he befriends Max (Joe Anderson), a rebellious young man from a privileged background, who then introduces his sister Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood).

Along the way, they become roommates and encounters a string of interesting housemates - Sadie, their easy going landlady who is an aspiring singer; Jojo, a guitarist; and Prudence. These characters add on as backgrounds to the 3 main characters and the developing romance of Jude & Lucy.

The movies builds up the characters friendships to only see it falter later with Jude returning to England. Movie - like, he then returns to the US to a waiting Lucy and the friendships of the group rebounds once more.

In a way this movie seems to highlight the Brit culture - especially on Brit pop. And it does pretty alright with the Beatles' hits... they are previous hits afterall.

However a rather uneventful and lame storyline don't gives much further than that... thought I'm sure any loyal British citizen would love the movie as it shows how influential Brit pop is (or was).