Sunday, June 24, 2007


OCEAN'S 13 (Steven Soderbergh, 2007)

A return to the mainstream fimmaking for Steven Soderbergh, after the minimalistic indie film Bubble (2006). Ocean's 12 was horrendous imo, so I have pretty low expectations on this 3rd, and 'hopefully', final Ocean's outing.

The result: an entertaining popcorn movie. No more, no less. You'll enjoy it while it lasts, but there's nothing to write home about.

It's good to see Al Pacino, though.

Verdict: 3/5

BEHIND THE MASK: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon (Scott Glosserman, 2007)

A satire of sorts on the horror/slasher classics; Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Halloween (In this film, those infamous characters really existed.). We follow a group of grad students making a documentary on a would-be slasher, who are pursuing the same legacy as Freddy Krueger, Jason, and Myers did during their time.

It's a creative idea, really. Instead of following the would-be victims, the movie centers on the killer himself. From *his* perspective. Accompanied by the usual 'satirical' take on the genre's classic stereotypes. It *is* amusing, I'll give ya that. But I did expect some good blood and gore action to come with the humor. Disappointingly the movie didn't deliver on that regard.

Verdict: 2.5/5

FANTASTIC 4: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (Tim Story, 2007)

Oh why do I even bother. I went in just, and I do mean *just* to see some kick-ass Silver Surfer action. Coz he definitely looked cool in the trailers.

Yeah. And what I got was *exactly* what I got from the trailers. There are only two action scenes involving the Silver Surfer (they *are* cool btw), and both are already shown in the movie's trailer. Talk about a waste of money. I won't bother pointing at the obvious from the other aspects of the movie. Simply put the movie sucks. It's 90 minutes long but it definitely felt like more than 2 hours.

By the way, I don't find Jessica Alba attractive.

Verdict: 1.5/5

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It Shines

SUNSHINE (Danny Boyle, 2007)

I kinda regret that I missed the movie's theatrical run, because as it stands, it's one of the best sci-fi film to come out in recent years. Sunshine tells a story about a space mission to reignite the dying sun, thus saving mankind from Earth's barren, frozen tundra. Yeah I know it sounds unbearably cliche, like we've seen it all before. But it is, after all, a film directed by Danny Boyle and written by Alex Garland. The same team that basically *reinvented* the horror/zombie genre with 28 Days Later.

As 'traditional' as the premise may seem, there is enough talent involved that overcomes the film's 'predictability', whilst at the same time providing more than enough edge-of-your-seat thrills and the usual special effects bravado that comes in packages with the genre. Technical virtuosities aside, the characters also hold a strong spot in the film's backbone. The relationships between the crew, and the psychological impact the mission has brought on them as they juggle with the extreme burden of the fate of mankind. To the point that they question their own sanity. Cillian Murphy leads a great ensemble cast, with Chris Evans giving a surprisingly intense performance.

However, the third act didn't reach the height of the promising buildup. A mish-mash of perplexing philosophical(or even religious?) brouhahas emerged all of a sudden. Masquaraded into a somewhat generic chase/thriller sequences, that feels all too familiar and over-the-top to boot.

The movie's flawed, sure, but this is the kind of 'blockbuster movie' (should it reach blockbuster status.) that is worth the anticipation. Enough thrills, dazzles, and intelligence that is a breath of fresh air from this 'threequel'-laden year. So Danny ol' chap! Ya can chalk up another star for another nail in the genre.

Verdict: 4/5

See Also: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, Solyaris

Saturday, June 9, 2007

PAPRIKA (Satoshi Kon, 2007)

You can always count on Satoshi Kon to deliver an animated/anime film that transcends itself from mere, hand-drawn, animated cartoons. His films are always psychologically complex and thought-provoking, with realistic characters, that calling them 'anime' becomes an understatement. They're a work of art. Many regard Hayao Miyazaki as the 'godfather of anime', but personally I prefer Satoshi Kon. Even though their specialty is very much the same (their imagination knows no boundaries), but Satoshi Kon is the very contrast of Miyazaki. Where Miyazaki "creates" new imaginative beings, Satoshi Kon *skews*, or manipulate those visions that has embedded themselves in pop culture, into his films. Like David Lynch is to Hollywood stereotypes. The 'arthouse' of anime; more 'adult-oriented'. In short, his films are the most 'humanistic' compared to other animes, closer to a live-action film. Millenium Actress, remains my favorite anime film ever, and a masterpiece.

Although I feel that Paprika is a bit of a 'minor' work, but it still is his most 'mind-bending' film. Kon's trademark of blurring the lines between reality and dream, that constantly shifts-in and out, are ever-more evident here in Paprika. Viewers will find it hard to follow the film's narrative earlier on, due to its lack of blatant exposition. But it is the 'trust' that is put to the viewers' own intelligence, that raises my respect towards Satoshi Kon. Even more due to those brainless Hollywood blockbusters that are pouring all over this summer. Paprika did not forget to present not only visual sensations, but also plenty of food-for-thought too. It is pulsating with extraordinary imaginations that comes from the "inner-child", at the same time delving deep into the characters'(and our) psyche. As we would continually ask ourselves what is real and what is not.

Paprika didn't actually meet my rather *high* expectation(a fault of the rather underwhelming finale), but indeed, the 'headtrip' is definitely worth the experience.

Verdict: 3.5/5

See Also:
Millennium Actress, Perfect Blue, Tokyo Godfathers, Paranoia Agent Series