Sunday, May 30, 2010


Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, Gemma Arterton, Alfred Molina

"Defy the Future"

Cinema 2, Shang Cineplex

I'm hardly into video games. So I was pretty amazed at how an incredible tale of exploration in an exotic setting can evolve from a single video game. In that same manner, it is quite refreshing to have a big adventure movie that knows how to have fun and not take itself too seriously.

The story revolves around Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), a young highly spirited orphan who was adopted by the king of a vast Persian empire. Despite having no royal lineage, he is raised as a prince and along with his 2 brothers (real sons of the King) they rule the empire as warriors constantly waging a battle against their foes.

But things quickly change for Dastan who gets into trouble after being framed for the king's murder. To clear his name, Dastan together with feisty Princess Tamina (Gemma Arterton) embark on a spinning desert escapade to find a magical dagger that has the ability to turn back the sands of time.

Jake Gyllenhaal who has starred as a gay cowboy (in Brokeback Mountain) and a Marine (in Jarhead) is well equipped to handle the role of Dastan. His toned body and good physique help him to perform those really dangerous yet acrobatic parkour stunts. Although most of the time, he looks really gruffy (being in the desert et al) his princely portrayal is very credible.

Ably supported by a good ensemble cast of good actors like Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina (among others), Jake succeeds in bringing a grandiose popcorn entertainment to the big screen with much aplomb.

Ok so let's admit the plot is as convoluted as a knot. There are too many sideplots unfolding at the same time and it is literally peppered with all sorts of strange looking creatures/characters. Yet the exotic set designs (great sandstorm shots!), the well choreographed fight scenes, the stunning visuals and the sometimes funny dialogue more than make up for its numerous flaws.

A shaky technique of action film making does get a bit tedious at times, but the film was highly enjoyable and entertaining. So much so that I sort of crave for a sequel, heh!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


Ryan Reynolds, Emily Mortimer, Stuart Townsend

"This man will bring Order to the Universe ... or not"

Star Movies

I was surprised at the first scene of this film where a bearded Ryan Reynolds appears as the father of the bride. I said to myself but he is too young to be the father of a 20 something. Then the film goes into flashback mode as Frank Allen (Ryan Reynolds) narrates to his future son in law how his somewhat 'perfect' life started to unravel beyond his control. So it somehow made some sense.

You see Frank Allen is the author of a bestseller "The Five Minute Efficiency Trainer" . A man known for playing it safe, he doesn’t believe in spontaneity. Every choice he makes is deliberate and designed to contribute to a well-ordered, predictable life. But life, as he soon learns, never adheres to a strict schedule.
And it is in the unraveling where the plot takes on a chaotic turn. Frank Allen finds himself involved in a series of mishaps that turn his meticulously ordered life upside down.

But I like to think that when he starts living in the moment that is when his life gets more meaning. That no amount of index cards, endless 'to do lists' or an efficient system could make up for the bonding nature of love, family, friendship. Throw in the noble art of forgiveness too!

"Chaos Theory" may have a murky plot with little twists. But the good solid cast (Ryan Reynolds, Emily Mortimer and Stuart Townsend), makes it a heart-warming and refreshing romantic comedy that tells us that family truly matters!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


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Sunday, May 16, 2010


Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Kathy Bates, Michael Shannon


This well crafted movie under the direction of Sam Mendes is not easy to watch. We witness the slow and painful self destruction of a marriage. April (Kate Winslet) and Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) Wheeler are a young married couple living in the suburbs during the mid 1950s. They live in a modest house on Revolutionary Road. On the surface, their marriage seems perfect yet deep inside there is a seething dark revolution slowly sweeping through the cracks.

Kate is restless and feels that there is more to life than simply being a housewife living in suburban America. She wants to fulfill their lifelong dream of living in Paris. At first, Frank is receptive to the idea and their plan adds a much need sparkle in their routinary marriage. Yet hurdles and obstacles crop up and soon their plans are rudely interrupted, much to their chagrin.

The film itself is well edited and beautifully directed by the same director who gave us "American Beauty". The cinematography is brilliant. The costumes and the set designs are authentic for the era it represents. I also liked the the music and the original score as it was quite reflective for every scene.

Leonardo DiCarpio is amazing in his role as Frank. He is intense and passionate and knows how to convey his emotions through various facial expressions. Kate Winslet as usual is brilliant. Her steely cold portrayal of April Wheeler sent chills down my spine. It is almost like she had multiple personalities as her in depth characterization was cleverly executed.

Like all good movies, "Revolutionary Road" doesn't offer easy answers and indeed sometimes offers no answers at all. Rather it probes and questions. It delivers its portrait of flawed characters through revelatory incidents. It's the kind of film that makes you realize what truly and really matters in life.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Jennifer Aniston, Gerard Butler

"It's a Job. It isn't Personal.
Well, Maybe a Little."

Cinema 11, SM Megamall

The only "nice" thing about this romantic comedy are its attractive leads. Otherwise the plot is pretty much quite trivial and honestly it was quite dragging to watch. It barely functions on the weak premise of a bounty hunter named Milo Boyd (Gerard Butler) whose next 'victim'/target is Nicole Hurley (Jennifer Aniston) who just happens to be his ex-wife. She is a feisty reporter working on a lead in a murder cover up. Naturally, she won't be easily persuaded to be booked for a minor offense. So it is not really an easy job for the poor bounty hunter. Soon enough, they are being pursued by so called bad elements. But since this is supposedly a rom-com, the villains don't come across as being too menacing.

This film plods on really slow on the journey of these ex-couple who believe me barely have any chemistry on screen. As I mentioned earlier, they look fairly quite presentable and in some ways attractive so that alone makes up for quite a boring plot. Another 'good' thing are the location shots in Atlantic City however briefly it was presented.

So I really don't know why the two leads accepted these roles. Perhaps some Hollywood big shot thought it was a good idea to place the two hottest stars in the industry together in a film. Never mind if the plot was too useless to be effective, let's just bank on the fame of Aniston and Butler. Well it failed and miserably so.

My only consolation is that I was able to get a respite from the sweltering summer heat by being in an air conditioned cinema. Although I admit I was surprised that I managed to keep my eyes open and didn't doze off!

Friday, May 7, 2010


R0bert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sam Rockwell,
Mickey Rourke, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson
Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau

Cinema 2, SM Megamall

Let me just say that it is quite refreshing that a superhero's alter ego is no longer a secret. So there isn't a need for a misleading disguise and acting dumb and silly as a person when deep inside there is a superhero lurking and just bursting to be released!

In the first installment, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr) proudly reveals to the whole world that he is indeed Iron Man. In the sequel, Tony Stark has turned into an arrogant narcissist who likes everything on a grandiose scale. He parties like there is no tomorrow. He even signs off his thriving empire to his loyal secretary Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and makes her CEO of the conglomerate. That alone is easy to follow.

Then unfortunately, the scriptwriters overcompensate and throw in several side plots involving business rivals, covert secret agents, villains, the proliferation of weapons and very loud ruckus of steel banging against steel action. That 124 minutes later, your head is still spinning like a top as you try to make sense of the murky plot. But are equally awed by the amazing visual effects and computer generated images that are highlighted on a massive scale.

Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko complete with a Russian accent makes a very credible villain. It is good to see him cast in a supporting yet very meaty role. He never fails to deliver. The same goes for Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer. He played his role as a tenacious rival weapons manufacturer with much aplomb.

While the film was still in production, I got upset that they suddenly replaced Terrence Howard with Don Cheadle without any just cause. It would have been much better if Terrence Howard was still in the cast. But I guess I am being biased as he is pure eye candy material. Although I have nothing against Don Cheadle (he is a good actor in every sense) but he just seemed totally miscast. It is also unfortunate that the script doesn’t give equal opportunity for Gwyneth Paltrow and Scarlett Johansson’s characters to show more complexity and dimension.

But despite all these misgivings about plot loopholes, too many side plots and lack of in depth character development, one thing is quite certain - Robert Downey, Jr's eloquent wit and great charisma as Tony Stark makes Iron Man 2 all worth while!

Oh and hopefully some of you were patient enough to wait till the end credits rolled by to catch a very vague and brief preview of Iron Man 3!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Brendan Frasier, Kerri Russell, Harrison Ford

"Don't Hope for a Miracle.
Make One."

Not to be mixed up with another film entitled "Extreme Measures" a creepy thriller which starred Gene Hackman and Hugh Grant, this drama is based on true events. It focuses on John (Brendan Fraser) and Aileen (Keri Russell) Crowley's efforts to find a cure for two of their children inflicted with Pompe disease. It is a rare genetic disorder where the child loses control of her muscular functions. They rarely survive beyond the age of 9. Their research leads them to Dr Richard Stonehill, (Harrison Ford) a researcher at the University of Nebraska who has made significant progress in his search for a cure.

Unfolding like a Hallmark movie of the week, "Extraordinary Measures" is an inspiring story about family and friends that take extraordinary risks and measures to protect the ones they love. Although I kept wondering how come the Crowleys didn't go bankrupt from the huge expenses they must have incurred in providing the best health care possible for their children. Probably the makers of the film didn't want to portray a negative vibe so they merely presented on the quest for a cure. The film also proves why certain medicines cost a fortune. Most of it goes to the extensive research and development involved in formulating a medicine that will heal us from certain life threatening diseases.

Brendan Fraser as John Crowley was believable. He has always been a steady and sold actor even if he is also identified as a comedian. His serious acting in the film was sensible. It is good that Harrison Ford as the craggy Dr Stonehill was willing to take on a supporting role. Despite his high profile status in the industry, he gladly takes a back seat for a minor yet significant role.

A feel good and inspirational movie that highlights human triumphs against all odds.

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