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iandayang
Apr 30, 2019
In Film Reviews
So I’m going to keep this review short as I do not want to give anything away. Audiences should watch Endgame with a ‘spoiler-free’ mind, the only way that one can enjoy this film at the highest level. I didn’t think that ENDGAME was as good as INFINITY WAR, but as the title suggests I still loved it. There were only a couple of ‘imperfect’ things, the most notable being the pacing. The beginning was extremely slow, and it took a while before the story actually got going, but it was understandable considering this was the aftermath of the dire consequences of Infinity War. And the second aspect was that there were a couple of characters I expected were going to have more screen time and more relevance to the story, but instead, they fizzled and diminished quickly away probably so that the story could concentrate on the first main characters of the original Avengers film. Despite these minor flaws, for me, it was the end that made the film so magical, so incredible, and so emotional. I had tears, and because of the fact that there were other people in the cinema, I somehow controlled my emotions so that I would not cry and wail like a three year old toddler. The ending was a homage to itself, and if it was any other movie this would probably be quite arrogant, but what the film shows is how incredible the MCU has, for over a decade, created worlds and characters through 22 films that many a population has dedicated and invested their time, money, and emotion. You don’t need me to tell you to watch it, the film has already taken over $1.2 billion after five days of its release. Just a word of advice: bring some tissues. RATING: 8.5/10
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iandayang
Mar 12, 2019
In Film Reviews
The latest instalment added to the Marvel Cinematic Universe library, showcases Marvel’s response to the successful DC female empowering superhero film WonderWoman. Captain Marvel tells the story of Vers, a female being associated with the Kree empire, an alien race whose planet is far, far away from planet C53 (Earth). Her memories have been wiped due to an unknown event in her past, and as the film progresses, Vers tries to find out who her true self really is. Set in the 90’s, Captain Marvel will answer questions needed in order to watch the next MCU film (Avengers: Endgame). Overall, the film was O.K., which in terms of MCU films is not great. Various humorous scenes and a couple of fight sequences (particularly the train scene emphasised in trailers) kept us briefly on our toes, but everything else was so bland. The most disappointing aspect were the visuals. Set in the 90’s, this film should have oozed a lava field of happy nostalgia. Images of Fresh Prince of Bel Air, shell-suits, Spice Girls, 90’s R&B/Hip-Hop first spring to mind, things abundant with whacky, bright colours. Instead, the style was overly grey, dark and dull, optimised towards the end where action scenes were so dark and edited so badly, it was difficult to see what was really going on. Apart from the Blockbusters store and a humorous computer download scene, not a lot of the visuals were reminiscent of the 90’s most of us remember. Brie Larson wasn’t exactly a rainbow of joy. A good actress, but someone who lacked fun, spunk, and great on-screen charm compared to other Marvel characters we’ve come to love. The depth of the film’s message was to inspire girls (and boys) to keep trying, to keep getting up no matter how many times you fall down. A good message, but with Brie Larson being the messenger, dilutes and forces it onto audiences, as opposed to a message being connoted in affective semiotics. Audiences will unashamedly compare this lone female Marvel superhero to DC’s WonderWoman, and it maybe unfair to say, but Captain Marvel is no WonderWoman. Audiences will be waiting for that heroic, uplifting moment that would make them love Captain Marvel, like when WonderWoman crossed ‘No Man’s Land’ in order to save the village, but no such event occurs. The storyline itself was fine, but more depth and back story from both the protagonists and antagonists is needed to make us more emotionally attached. Perhaps more history into Captain Marvel’s forgotten past (like who her father was, whether she had any siblings, any past loves) would have helped us feel more connected to the character, but the lack of backstory (maybe due to the storyline itself where she has forgotten her Earth past) brought a lacklustre of any sentiment or emotion we would have had for her. It wasn’t all bad. Samuel L. Jackson gave another great performance as Nick Fury. The CGI to make Samuel look almost 30 years younger was incredible, and we find out how Fury lost an eye, which audiences will either love or hate (I personally loved it). Admittedly, the unconventional pairing and chemistry between Brie and Samuel was quite warm, fun and endearing, but it just wasn’t enough to save this film from being such a blah MCU film. The film just felt like a quick simple filler to help explain why Captain Marvel hadn’t appeared in previous MCU films, and it also probably didn’t help that there were two directors, Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. It would have been better to let Anna Boden (the FEMALE director) take the full rein of Marvel’s first FEMALE superhero film, as Patty Jenkins did for DC’s WonderWoman. How I would rate this film within the realms of MCU, it stands between the really bad first two Thor movies, and the average MCU films such as Dr Strange and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Optimism to end on, is that if you stay to watch the post-credit scenes, what is really intriguing and exciting to see is how Captain Marvel, the most powerful superhero character we have seen thus far, will interact with the rest of the Avengers, as the contrast between Captain Marvel and the others is so drastically different, similar to the anticipation we had to what the interaction would be like between Dr Strange and Iron Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor. Rating: 6/10
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iandayang
Oct 30, 2018
In Film Reviews
TAG is one of those films that went under the radar during the summer, probably due to its big-budget competitors, such as Incredibles 2, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and Ocean’s 8, all released within a month. Based on a true story, an all-star cast (which includes Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Isla Fisher, and many more) shows that star power alone cannot be relied upon to lift a film to successful heights (although the budget for TAG was an estimated $28m and grossed $72m worldwide). Nevertheless, putting box-office stats aside, was this film any good? THE GOOD: Feel Good - The basic concept of childhood friends playing tag well into their adulthood is the perfect setup for situational comedy that is highly hilarious and laugh-out-loud funny. It is clear that the film wants audiences to have fun and be solely entertained by watching a film that steers away from anything convoluted or preachy. Within the plethora of comedy, it would be easy and typical to stray towards the dramatic in order to create some form of build and dynamic mood change (Jerry’s wife could have easily been used as the antagonist, but even she embraces the ludicrousness of the game), and it almost does when an old flame comes between two of the TAG players. Thankfully, and refreshingly, the spat lasts only for a minute, and the main goal of trying to tag Jerry (who has never been tagged in the entire history of their game) ensues briskly. The ending makes another unexpected abrupt swerve towards the melodramatic, but again, quickly avoids the drama leaving audiences in a blissful state of nostalgia, reminding us the importance of youth and the continuation of the young-at-heart state of mind throughout adulthood. A Mix Of Styles - Tagging Jerry becomes the drive and prize for the other players, and what makes TAG so much fun is that whenever these attempts ensues, the film borrows different characteristics of other film genres, such as The Action Flick (in which the attempt in the shopping mall shows off Jeremy Renner’s stunt skills), The Thriller/Horror Flick, and The Heist Flick. By doing so, the film enhances the fantasy and escapism it wants to capture and keeps audiences entertained in a surprising and unexpected manner. THE BAD: Not So Funny - Whilst the situation of the game brought hilarity, what was quite disappointing was the lack of charisma and comicalities brought forward by the actors. It is fair to assume that being a comedy, improvisation would be abundant, and it was quite clear when improvisation occurred in the film, mostly because when it did occur it was really unfunny (the biggest culprit was Hannibal Buress, who, unfortunately, plays the token black guy). This shortage of funny didn’t ruin the film overall, but it was still a disconcerting surprise considering the pool of talented actors appearing in the film. The Message - As said before, one of the good points of the film is that it avoids being too preachy about anything serious. Nevertheless, the film did have a message; the perseverance of the game was not about running away from each other, but about staying close to one another, a sentiment that can be understood and relatable by many. But the film never quite brings this sentiment to the forefront, only keying it in right at the end. By hammering in this message earlier on, the film could have brought another layer without tearing out the heartstrings or being too melodramatic, and could have made audiences more sympathetic towards the players. THE VERDICT I definitely enjoyed it. It seems that too many extreme negative events occur day-in and day-out, evidently highlighted by the news coverage we see on a daily basis, so escapism is one way to cope with all the hardships. TAG is one of those films that is perfect for anyone trying to forget problems, even if it is for only 90 minutes. There is nothing grand to think about here, just a fun, playful and entertaining flick for most adults on all sides of the political spectrum to enjoy and possibly relate to. Not perfect, but so is the world around us. Rating: ⅘
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iandayang
Sep 18, 2018
In Film Reviews
Much hype has surrounded Spike Lee’s BLACKkKLANSMAN due to its political and racial content, drawing similarities and comparisons to the political climate faced by today’s society in the Donald Trump era of so-called divisive and extremely polarising policies. Based on the memoirs of 2014’s Black Klansman by Ron Stallworth, what does this film say, if anything, about racial inequalities from an era set 50 years before the current POTUS? THE GOOD: The Setup - What became the selling point for this comedy-drama was the hilarity of the plot where we encounter the goings-on of Ron Stallworth, the first black cop of the Colorado Springs Police Department. He quickly moves from the mundane, abusive file room, to an undercover cop who infiltrates the KKK by impersonating a ‘white guy’ over the phone. This endeavour becomes the catalyst for comedy and extreme laughter, highlighting and challenging ideas of ‘blackness’ and ‘whiteness’. The first part of the film is by far the most compelling, quickly setting up the tone, characters, and direction in an entertaining and comical manner. The story is an easy watch, never straying towards anything too complex or convoluted, instead concentrates on a strong script told by interesting, likeable protagonists. The Acting of the Protagonists - Impressive acting was abundant in this movie, including stellar, but limited performances from Alec Baldwin, Robert John Burke, Michael Buscemi, and Ryan Eggold. But it is John David Washington, playing Ron Stallworth who steals the show, whose performance was tight within moments of high-drama and comedy, to the more tender and romantic occasions. John Washington’s acting style has a strong resemblance to his father Denzel, and has clearly been influenced by his father’s mannerisms, tone, and eloquent recital of words. Although John Washington’s performance in BLACKkKLANSMAN isn’t Oscar worthy (but don’t hold me on that), it was still good enough to make us believe that he may one day follow in his father’s footsteps to achieve ‘Best Actor Award’ glory. A pleasant surprise performance came from Adam Driver who plays the more experienced undercover agent David Zimmerman. His character is equally important as Ron Stallworth and probably more interesting due to his Jewish ‘non-practising’ background. Whilst Ron initiates the infiltration over the phone, Driver continues it physically, but his ‘Jewish looks’ arouses suspicion to one of the more wacky members of the Klan who constantly goads David with questions about his background and motives. David Zimmerman reminds us that the Klan isn’t just a black-hating organisation, but one that hates everyone who doesn’t fall or fit under the category of ‘White Christian America’. Like Washington, Driver acts fairly uncontrived without being over the top or excessive, never taking any limelight away from Washington and instead, creating a fun, onscreen charismatic chemistry between them. Representation of the Minority - What seems to be a trend in films surrounding the historical inequalities of the black community (e.g. Hidden Figures, The Help), the representation of African-Americans in BLACKkKLANSMAN in a time of greater bigotry, discrimination and disparity than today, never fell to a poor state of sadness or depression, nor did they let the hate get the best of them (with the exception of one scuffle in the police station), always staying strong and optimistic with humorous interactions to fight against the debauchery of white supremacy. THE BAD: The Middle and End - As said before, BLACKkKLANSMAN takes on an interesting premise - undercover black agent infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan by impersonating a racist, xenophobic white guy over the phone. The pacing of the beginning and setup was fairly quick and helped move the film along in a way that kept the audience interested in what would happen next. However, after the infiltration occurs and Zimmerman meets the head of the faction and its members, the momentum and interest of the film takes a turn to a slower pace with nothing really happening in the story. It’s not boring per se, with romance, funny conversations with David Duke (leader of the Ku Klux Klan), and a scene involving a lie detector keeping us slightly enthused, but the change of pace compared to the beginning made the film drag slightly, and the excitement felt at the beginning disparates. Maybe one reason for the drag is that the film portrays the KKK as this violent, dangerous organisation. But it is never really felt that Zimmerman, or any members of the black liberation group were ever under threat, even though the film seemed like it was giving us hints that something major was about to happen. For example, when Stallworth drives away from the Klan after throwing a plant through their kitchen window, Felix, the most unstable member of the Klan, starts firing his gun, but Zimmerman snatches it from him and fires the gun himself only to purposely miss Stallworth. A few scenes later, Zimmerman and the Klan are on a firing range and Zimmerman hits the targets on point. Felix notices this, and it seems that Felix would work out that Zimmerman is not who he says he is. But nothing substantial ever comes of this. The biggest anti-climax though was the ending. Felix finds out through word of mouth. rather than logical deduction, during the after-dinner party of his initiation that Zimmerman is an imposter, so one would have expected havoc to take place, after all, they just initiated a Jew into their Klan and is eating at the same table as them. But like everything noted before, nothing; no drama, no action, no vengeance. Instead, the finale concentrates on Felix’s wife trying to plant a bomb in order to severely hurt and kill the members of the black liberation group. This part was OK, but rather than the occurrence being the result and natural sequential conclusion of what had gone before, it felt more like a quick ex-machina to wrap everything up, and before you know it, everyone is happy, justice is served, and everyone can go back to their day job. The Antagonists - It is most likely that the majority of the audience watching this film won’t be Donald Trump supporters, and so the biggest mistake Spike Lee makes is the characterisations of the KKK members; they are portrayed as paranoid (no matter how justifiably), feeble and stupid (really really stupid), a stereotype most middle Americans would find offensive and untrue. This is somewhat problematic, as the film does not address the issues why the support came abundant for Donald Trump. Now one could argue that these Trump supporters are paranoid, feeble and stupid, but it is more pragmatic to believe that ideologies like those is what made so many mid-Americans vote for Trump in the first place. Rather than addressing real issues and social depravations faced by white middle-America, it is quite lazy and dangerous for the film to suggest that it is stupidity that lead to the rise of the Trump presidency. What would have been more pragmatic in the film was to highlight the antagonistic character of Walter Breachway, the first member Stallworth contacts over the phone. Walter is the more level-headed, intelligent, charismatic member of the Klan, and one can see why mid-Americans would be drawn to his logical, reasonable, rational thinking, even though a blanket of racism and xenophobia underlines his dogma. Instead, the film decides to demote his status as the head of the faction and swerves towards concentrating on David Duke, a more flimsy, uncharismatic man in comparison. By concentrating on Breachway, at least the film would have offered some form of suggestion as to why supporters voted the way they did, instead of offering us this divisive reasoning, which ironically, can inadvertently bring a bigger gap to the divisions America faces today. The Message - It is clear that the message inferred in BLACKkKLANSMAN speaks about the comparisons of today’s American society under the presidency of Donald Trump, to the historical civil rights campaigns and protests of the 70s, and that after all this time nothing much has changed. It is an interesting ideology that has merits and truth, but the message in the film is so obvious and blatant that it feels slightly preachy, and seems to treat the audience with little belief that they are smart enough to work out semiotics in subtle ways. The last few images of the film were historical scenes of the KKK to the 2017 protests and rallies of Charlottesville, highlighting the tragic death of Heather Hayes, a victim who died after being run over from a vicious car attack. The shift in tone was so abrupt and juxtaposed from the light humour of the film, that the end sequences had a big, emotional impact. Were these images really necessary in any way? Not quite sure. Either way, it is fair to assume that the last few scenes had an impassioned strong-hold on the audience, and so BLACKkKLANSMAN may have had a different affect without it. The Verdict - It was ok. Not as tight or profound as Jordan Peele’s 2017 film Get Out, so not really a must see for the cinema, but no harm in watching it when the film does comes out online. The good humour and the good acting was a delight to see, but the overbearing message and the misuse of characters over-simplified recent historical events. The film neither asks the question or goes into depth as to why Donald Trump became the United States’ President, nor does it give any solution to the ‘Donald Trump problem’. Whilst the intention of the film can be applauded, it feels like the film is exploiting recent events rather than making a commentary about them. Rating: 6½/10
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iandayang
Jul 31, 2018
In Film Reviews
Writer, Director: Brad Bird (Contains mild spoilers) Nearly fifteen years have audiences been patiently waiting for the sequel to Pixar’s successful much-loved family superhero flick. All your favourite characters return to take on new villains and new missions that allow each Incredible to use their powers in a fun and exciting way. The question is whether or not that this film was worth the long wait. THE GOOD: The Beginning/A Change in Shift: The best part of the film occurs at the start where we begin where the first Incredibles ended - The Underminer. Straight away action ensues in a chaotic, intense way so that we are drawn into the Incredibles from the get-go reminding us of their powers and personalities. After this chaos is resolved we see the dynamics in the Incredible Family shift. Mrs. Incredible (A.K.A Elastic Girl) becomes the breadwinner whilst Mr. Incredible has to stay at home and look after the kids whilst trying to be supportive and hide his jealousy from his wife’s success. This in itself is quite poignant and relevant when looking at current issues surrounding gender equality in the workplace. The switch makes for humorous moments, but it is a clear statement surrounding the difficulties and ideals of how society still sees women as the home carer and men as the provider. It supports the cliché that whatever men can do women can do it too, sometimes, even better. Old and New Characters: Seeing childhood favourites on the big screen again will put a smile on anyone’s faces and make adults feel like a kid again. Dash (unnoticeably voiced by a different actor) is my personal favourite, and remains the cheeky, high-energetic 10 year old. As hinted before, you get to see more of Elastic Girl and more of what she can do (the motorcycle/metro chase scene was intense) as she hesitantly fights against injustice in the new fictional city of New Urbem. The short appearance of Edna was a clear audience favourite, but it is Jack-Jack who steals the show. Though an old character, his development of new, random powers make him feel like a new one, and with Mr. Incredible taking on the role of an unexperienced stay-at-home parent, this is an inevitable recipe for hilarity (trying to make Jack-Jack reappear with a cookie was priceless). With an array of new super-powered characters, the only one worth mentioning is Voyd. With similarities to the mutant Blink in X-men: Days of Future Past, Voyd’s teleportation abilities bring a high sense of fun and intensity. In particularly, towards the end Voyd tries to teleport Elastic Girl onto an aircraft, but Elastic Girl keeps missing the target, so Voyd attempts at least three more times to get Elastic Girl on the fast traveling turbo jet. This was ingenious, showing us a unique perspective and scenario not seen before in previous superhero movies. The Visuals: Needless-to-say, Pixar is so reliable and consistent with the high-level quality of the visuals and Incredibles II does not disappoint. Colours, light and shade, set designs, together emanated ecstasy for the eyes, and combined with the distinguishable energetic soundtrack, brought a solid, satisfactory completion to the film. THE BAD: Different Different But Same - What is really odd about watching Incredibles II is that after waiting over a decade for this sequel to be made, nothing much has really changed, i.e. the film occurs only days after The Underminer event. The storyline has not really progressed either; Supers are still exiled and forbidden to use their powers in the public domain, Violet’s boyfriend’s memory has been wiped and doesn’t remember ever meeting Violet and so she has to try and win his heart for a second time round, and Dash is still having problems with school (albeit math problems as opposed to behavioural ones). Also, with Violet, she is dramatically different in personality (clichéd teenage mood swings) and in her powers (she can now use her shields in a offensive way). It is great that Violet and her powers have progressed and evolved, but with the time being set only days after the end of Incredibles I, this seems a bit odd and misplaced. What’s more flawed about the film is that, although it seems fresh and different to the original, there really isn’t much difference to the structure at all. Mrs. Incredible has to work alone for some rich people she rarely knows - just like Mr. Incredible in the first - one of the people who Elastic Girl works for turns out to be the villain and is tech-savvy and uses technology as a means to get what they want - just like Syndrome in the first - the identity of the villain is revealed three quarters of the way in, Violet and Dash is left alone to defend for themselves for about seven minutes, and, just like the first, there is a similar climatic end which involves the efforts of all the Incredibles working together. So although it appears that the sequel is far different from the first instalment, closer inspection shows that it has more similarities with its predecessor, and the problem with this is that it makes Incredibles II seem stagnant, trite, and unoriginal. Like the latest Star Wars franchise, nostalgia alone cannot make a film a good one; it is the combination of the storyline, script, messages, and themes and ideas that elevate an average film to an incredible one. Screenslaver, The Antagonist - The villain in Incredibles II - Screenslaver, is one of the most flimsy antagonist seen this year. It is extremely obvious who the villain turns out to be, and rather than hiding Screenslaver’s identity, the film should have spent more time building Screenslaver’s backstory and create more empathy behind Screenslaver’s actions. Instead, we get a very bland, forgettable, unconvincing, two-dimensional adversary. With strong villains in superhero films this year - Eric Killmonger in Black Panther, Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War - Screenslaver is by far the weakest aspect of the sequel. The Verdict So was Incredibles II worth the 14 year wait? I hate to say this, but no, it really wasn’t. Definitely go see it and make a family outing out of it, but in no way does Incredibles II outshine the first, nor does it come anywhere close to how outstanding the first one was. The reason for such a long wait was that the creator, director and writer, Brad Bird, wanted to make a sequel until he had a good, compelling story and script. This can only be commended, but unfortunately, even after good intentions, Incredibles II feels like it was trying to capture the magic created by the first encounter, and so ends up being nostalgic but in a repetitive, uninspiring, uncreative way. Kids will enjoy this film, adults will feel like a kid again, but you just won’t leave the cinema feeling like the way you did the first time round. Rating: 6½/10
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iandayang
Jul 24, 2018
In Film Reviews
Director: Abby Kohn, Marc Silverstein (Contains mild spoilers) If you take into account the reviews on Rotten Tomato (32%), Empire (2/5), Metacritic (47%), IMDB (5.0/10) and many others, it would be fair to say that this film has not set the world on fire. It probably hasn’t even lit a match. But with all these reviews annihilating Amy Schumer’s I Feel Pretty, is it remotely possible that there is someone out there who has enjoyed watching this comedy? Is it possible that these reviews have got it all wrong? The Good: The Storyline/Themes and Ideas - I Feel Pretty follows Renee Bennet (Amy Schumer) being constantly mistreated or looked down upon from others due to her ‘plus-size’ body shape. Due to this, her confidence is at an all time low and so registers for a Spin Cycle Class in the hope to build up her self-esteem. During the class, she violently falls on her head, and once awakened she eventually sees herself in the mirror and sees herself as beautiful, not even recognising her own skin even though she looks exactly the same to those around her (and us the audience). The film explores the ideas of insecurities (both female and male), self-esteem and self-confidence, and the idea that beauty does not always mean automatic happiness which is represented by the character Mallory (Emily Ratajkowsky), a fellow Spin Class participant whose gorgeous looks makes Renee feel superfluous, but in the later stages we find out that Mallory herself has insecurities and problems of her own. The film also asks the question about where the line is between being confident and being arrogant. After miraculously gaining confidence, Renee’s life starts getting better. She gets a new job, she gets a new boyfriend, Ethan (played by Rory Scovel), and eventually gets a role as Vice President at the cosmetics company she receptions for. But Renee starts treating her friends and others the way that she was badly treated at the start of the film and is quickly ignored and phased out by them. So in the end, Renee questions who she really is and has a revelation that self confidence has always been inside us and that confidence is about being comfortable in our own skin rather than trying to mimic what society believes beauty is. I Feel Pretty has reminisce of What Women Want, Shallow Hal, and Big (which the film references), but still manages to stay fresh and relevant in today’s current political climate. The Laughs: Regardless of what many reviews say, this film made me smile and laugh. Once Renee believes that her body has miraculously changed for the better, a whole load of misunderstandings take place setting up many comedic situations. In particular, the laundry scene where Ethan asks what her number in the queue is, Renee genuinely believes that he is asking for her phone number and gives it to him. Also the bikini contest scene, where Amy Schumer pulls out all the stops to show off her curvaceous body in a short denim shorts and front tied shirt were hilarious (albeit being slightly cringing). The Bad: Amy Schumer: She wasn’t terrible, and it is clear that Schumer gave it her all. But she portrayed the new, highly-confident Renee in such an exaggerated, over-the-top way that it seemed a little contrived compared to the former self. If she just reined her performance in just a little bit, then the protagonist may well have been a little less annoying and a little bit more enjoyable to watch. Other characters: I wanted to see more screen time with Aidy Bryant, Busy Philipps, Michelle Williams and Tom Hopper. I enjoyed all their performances, but their characters could have added more comedic moments and a bit more substance to the storyline. My biggest criticism is Grant, played by Tom Hopper, whose role confused me a lot. The film seemed to have set up Grant as being the ‘bad guy’. He constantly goaded his sister Avery (Michelle Williams), he seemed to turn up in places where he wasn’t meant to be (on Avery’s airplane, in Renee’s hotel room) and so gave us a suspicion that he was inconspicuously up to something. But in the end the only role he played was to unsuccessfully tempt Renee in having a romantic fling and so was neither really liked nor disliked. More Oomph to the Storyline: The resolution to climatic problems Renee faced towards the end seemed to have concluded quite quickly. In comparison to Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck, where her character is almost in the same predicament, the resolution took its time to resolve Schumer’s anxieties and family and love issues. By doing so, we truly sympathise with her and understand her doubts and misery. In I Feel Pretty, she wins back her friends so quickly that there was really no emotional impact to her downfalls and sufferings. Also, when Renee did become a ‘bitch’, (she completely mistreated an older lady who turned up at her work and humiliated her friends in front of their dates) she was only one for about five minutes, so again, like Tom Hopper’s character, we neither really disliked her at any point which I think the film wanted us to do. The Verdict In all honesty, the film really wasn’t as bad as some reviews portray it to be. Yes, the storyline is so predictable, but some films are not always there to be groundbreaking. Should you spend your money and go see it in the cinema? Probably not. But if you do come across it, you should be pleasantly surprised on how entertaining it is and unlike most rom-coms it is unique in that the storyline and underlining themes is saying something that is actually worth hearing. Rating: 6/10
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iandayang
Jun 18, 2018
In Film Reviews
Director: David Leitch (Contains Small Spoilers) Amidst the array of superhero movies this year, Deadpool 2 offers a unique perspective in the genre with its humour, style, and the characterisation of its protagonist. Like the first, Deadpool 2 brings calamity, witty lines, R-rated sequences and dialogue, and the breaking of the fourth wall which made the first film so popular. So how does this film compare to the rest? The Good: Ryan Reynolds. Like the first encounter, Ryan Reynolds plays Deadpool with such ease. Many would find it hard to find another who could play this fun, cheeky anti-hero as well as he does, and it it would seem that the role was made just for him (ignoring his first attempt in Wolverine Origins). After learning that Reynolds half-scripted some of the lines, it is clear he is whole-heartedly devoted to the role and will inevitably keep playing Deadpool if a strong public need still requires him to do so. Domino. Unlike many of the other new characters who were brushed aside, Domino (played by Zazie Beetz) became the latest of likeable badass heroes. What seemed to be an endorsement and extension of female empowerment seen in Black Panther, introducing Domino into Deadpool 2 was a clever move. Her power, being ‘luck’, meant that CGI was not needed (i.e. no power lasers, steel body, etc), but what it did mean was that we got to see cool, fun action and fighting sequences that looked extremely impressive. Although we didn’t learn much about Domino, her presence and involvement was vital in bringing something new and refreshing into the franchise. Action. Loads and loads of action. Action scenes made this film so much fun to watch, and although CGI realism were a hit and miss in some places, overall the fighting scenes were thrilling. Some of the best action scenes involved Josh Brolin as Cable who was superb for a man who just entered his fifties. Also playing Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War, Brolin has had a great year and has made himself more known to a new, younger generation. The Bad: The Storytelling. Like the first, the weakness in Deadpool 2 lies within the storyline and the telling of. In the first instalment we get to see the necessary origin story, but in the final chapter it becomes a mundane adventure of “kill the baddie and save the girl”. In Deadpool 2 the story was slightly more complex, but it never really felt as epic as the storyline may suggest. Deadpool has to save a boy with relentless fire power, A.K.A Firefist, from killing the guy who has been torturing him from a young age. If the boy succeeds in his vengeance then his taste for blood will lead to an apocalyptic future. We know this because the boy is the reason why Cable, a soldier-type ‘villain’, has traveled through time. In the future, Firefist has killed Cable’s family, so to stop this from happening Cable travels to the past with the intent to kill the boy. The problem with the movie is that we don’t really get the sense of what the future looks like with only the movie giving the audience a few second glimpses. If we take X-men: Days of Future Past as another example with a similar storyline, we see and get to explore a dystopian future caused by the actions of one mutant - Mystique. We therefore understand the urgency of what is at stake. But in Deadpool 2, this understanding is non-existent. We don’t even get the chance to know Cable’s family which would have made the audience more sympathetic to him and his cause, and this leads us to the fact that the film suffers from a..... Lack of Emotion/Too Much Humour. Some of the most poignant and memorable scenes were those that were stripped down to its heart. Throughout, Deadpool is in emotional pain due to the loss of his girlfriend. Seeing him meet his girlfriend in the ‘afterlife’ were truly outstanding moments and gave a massive contrast to the ‘over-the-topness’ abundance throughout the film’s entirety. But these scenes were too few for me to really care about him or any other characters. When things did get ‘real’, we really never got the chance to feel what we should be feeling, because Deadpool always had to throw in a quip or jibe. Some of the seriousness of what was actually happening were brushed aside by a joke or some other form of humour: Colossus trying to comfort Deadpool, Firefist’s anger, Cable’s ferocity and intensity, Deadpool’s sacrificial finale, all were extinguished by Deadpool’s whimsy wisecracks. Of course, this is typical of the character, but it prevented the movie from being elevated to more than just your average superhero action film. Introduction to New Characters (Major spoiler here). As fore-mentioned, the introduction to Domino gave the film a breath of fresh air. But there were other characters who were introduced that could have done the same. When Deadpool decides to get a team together to help him on his quest to save the boy, a hilarious sequence of interviews of willing and potential members takes place. Unfortunately for them, apart from Domino, they are all abruptly killed off, so some hardcore comic-book fans may be left disappointed that the film didn’t get to explore other characters such as Shatterstar. For me though, the biggest disappointment was killing Terry Crews. I had no idea he was in this film, and when the film sets up the notion that Terry Crews is a superhero, I got so excited. But he dies within 10 minutes and so my excitement was short-lived. Furthermore, the sequel again invites along the same two X-men characters, but by the end of the film we still really didn’t get an in-depth look at their backstory. Only Colossus seemed to have done something useful (fighting Juggernaut), but what the film doesn’t seem to understand is that Colossus isn’t always made of steel and that he can transform back to his human body, so it would have been interesting to see what his human physical qualities are. The other X-man, Negasonic Teenage Warhead (whose name I had to Google), didn’t really do anything, and I was left still confused about what her powers are. We find out that Negasonic has a girlfriend who also has super powers, but we only get to see a glimpse of what she can do for only a few seconds towards the finale. Then there’s the Juggernaut. Yes, he is definitely an improved version from the Juggernaut in X-men 3, but his CGI look was still too CGI and I would have liked to know more about his story and his background. Instead he was a side character only used to get Colossus, Negasonic and her girlfriend more involved in the movie, as opposed to using a character to progress the story in a meaningful way. So, should you go see Deadpool 2? Sure. It’s definitely an enjoyable movie. Is it great? Not really, especially when you compare it to Avengers: Infinity War, released only a couple of weeks before Deadpool 2. Some might find this comparison to be unfair, but Marvel has set the bar for storytelling, character sympathy, and pure ‘epicness’. If Deadpool is going to continue to involve other super-powered heroes, it needs to develop them and build a rapport between them and the audience. The film also needs to let emotional moments be emotional, and not let humour get in the way of allowing the audience to be more responsive to sentiment. Rating - 6.5/10
Deadpool 2 - Needs To Be More Than Just A Bundle Of Laughs content media
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iandayang
May 01, 2018
In Film Reviews
Director: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo (Contains small spoilers) Hearing the news that the latest superhero franchise, Avengers: Infinity War, has broken the Box Office opening-weekend record, Avengers: Infinity War has clearly been a much highly anticipated movie for many, and with this comes the question on everyone’s lips; does this film live up to the hype? The Good: So many characters. With the majority of superheroes from different worlds appearing in this movie one would be bound to find joy in seeing their favourite character(s) work and interact alongside other heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and seeing how new relationships are quickly formed and developed. My particular favourite pairings were Iron Man and Spiderman teaming up with Dr. Strange, and Thor teaming up with The Guardians of the Galaxy. These interactions created many humorous moments, a necessity the audience needs for a broadly dire, tense situation. With so many heroes, one would assume that not everyone would play an important role. This was not the case. Although some characters had more screen time than others, the film made every role significant. Everyone had a part to play and every hero had their time to shine. As for the villains, well, maybe with the exception of Loki (Thor) and Eric Killmonger (Black Panther), Marvel has been accused of producing lacklustre ones, but here, Thanos‘ and his meddlesome crew make up for that. It is not necessarily their demeanour that is frightening, but their actions driven by their motives. They are deadly, and when Thanos says he wants to get rid of half the population in the entire universe, he means it. Fun and action packed. Right from the get-go, a real sense of urgency and danger was presented, and one could feel the impending threat upon the lives of all characters throughout the entirety of the film. The fighting and action scenes were fun and enthralling. From Wanda and Vision’s fight and flight, to Iron Man, Spiderman, Dr Strange and The Guardians of the Galaxy fighting Thanos, to the final Wakanda battle scenes, not one surpassed the other. One noteworthy scene was when Wanda, Black Widow and Okoye (Black Panther’s Bodyguard) teamed up to take on the only female villain.  This briefly evoked resonances and continued the actualisation of female empowerment that the “Black Panther” film successfully portrayed. Emotional. Accompanying the action were emotional character developments, particularly the relationship between Thanos and Gamora.  We learn a great deal about both their pasts and the events that drives them.  We are encouraged to understand their motives and state of mind, and thus, are more emotionally attached to them, though they are seen as evil and cold. Emotional scenes were few, but when they did occur, they were powerful. They pulled at the very heartstrings of what makes most of these characters so likeable, and it is these scenes that prevent this movie from being just a typical action flick. The Bad: Jump to the future. There were a few pieces missing, or at least part of the story we didn’t get to see. The biggest example occurs at the beginning.  We somewhat start from where Thor: Ragnorok left off. Thanos is aboard Thor’s ship trying to get to the Space gemstone Loki holds. We see dead bodies everywhere, so it is assumed that a battle of some sort has occurred.  But we didn’t get to see this, and so we did not get to see the characters we liked in Thor: Ragnorok, such as the humorous Korg, and the brave, yet drunkard, Valkerie. Another example is the fact that we see Thanos with the purple Power gemstone. The last time we saw this gemstone was in the safe hands of the Xandar government in The Guardians of the Galaxy, but we are only briefly told that “two weeks ago” Thanos stole the gemstone and, while he was at it, demolished the planet. One tiny part of the storyline which was overlooked was the love interest between Wanda and Vision.  Although emotionally rooting for the pair, not to actually see their relationship develop from the start made any feelings for them seem forced.  As someone who has developed a great interest in the MCU and its characters over the past decade, I want to see every important thing that happens to them, and I mean EVERYTHING. So not seeing Wanda and Vision throughout the course of their relationship meant that their fate at the end of the film had less of an emotional impact than it should have done.  Perhaps there will be more footage in an extended Blue Ray Disc, but one likely reason for the edits is because.... The Film is two and a half hours long. Understandably, because of the huge impact that forgoes in the storyline, and the involvement of so many superheroes, this film had to be enduring and expansive. For some, sitting through a two and a half hour film may be uncomfortable, and while I admit that the film dragged just a teeny tiny bit, I had so much fun with this film that the majority of the two and a half hours flew by. No Hulk. Technically they still had the Hulk, but it was in the form of Bruce Banner. Huge fans of Mark Ruffalo would be pleased to see more of him on screen, but for those who wanted to see the green skinned monster, disappointment. Furthermore, no Hawkeye or Antman. Their absence was briefly explained, but one would expect that during this universal annihilation they would turn up at some point. The ending is not the end. We all know that this is a two-parter, so we all have to wait another year for the conclusion. The consolation is that we have other superhero films to enjoy until then: Deadpool 2, Antman and The Wasp, and Captain Marvel (and to an extent The Incredibles 2). So did this film live up to the hype? For me, it did. Just about. With new and old characters intertwined, an immense storyline, big action sequences, all mixed with a drop of emotional nuance, this film will bring so much joy to young kids and make most adults feel like a kid again. Definitely go see it, but be warned; its a long rollercoaster ride.
Avengers: Infinity War - It's Epic, Really Really Epic content media
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iandayang
Apr 07, 2018
In Film Reviews
Director: Rian Johnson (Contains Mild Spoilers) I have never been a huge fan of any of the Star Wars episodes, but I have always appreciated how groundbreaking the first films of the franchise were back in the seventies and eighties. The consensus for the mid-2000's revivals is that they were abysmal, but like most 'western' societies these days regarding opinions on certain matters, there seems to be a division about how great these latest Star War movies really are. Most loved the nostalgic feeling that 'Force Awakens' brings, whilst others, like myself, thought that nostalgia was a polite way of saying that the film didn't bring anything new and just copied the same old ideas that came before, such as the underlining story of the Death Destroyer (ok it's a lot bigger now, but so what?). There were interesting questions like, 'why did Finn turn good?', "why is Rey so powerful?", "who is Snoke?". Any exploration of these questions could have potentially elevated this average film to a great one. Instead, many audiences who loved the film concentrated on the visual aspects rather than the storyline, script, and characterisations. But this is a review about 'The Last Jedi', and the point I am making is that when audiences are grateful that a movie is better than what has come before, that does not mean that the movie itself is great, and when audiences say a movie is great when in fact it is nowhere near greatness, i.e. 'Force Awakens', then the film makers are going to say, "O.K. audiences don't care about storyline, or themes, or character significance, they just want to see Star War visuals that remind them of the good old days". This is obviously an exaggeration, but there is consequential truth to this when you watch the recent 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'. Firstly, there is no character development from 'Force Awakens' in this film whatsoever. Who is Snork? Who is Rey really, and why is she so Powerful? Who are her parents? In conjunction, new characters felt pointless, particularly the forgettable Asian girl, Rose. As a British Asian, I am highly disappointed that this character is such a bore. Secondly, there are so many odd plot lines that make no sense. Why wasn't Po (the pilot) told the evacuation plan? This would have saved the trouble of Po leading a rebel force against the leader with purple hair. Why did that lady with purple hair have to stay behind in the big ship? When she was left alone all she did was stand around and do nothing, plus, surely they could have made a droid push any buttons if needed. When they were evacuating, why didn't the enemy spot them? You could argue they were too far away too be seen, but when they eventually fired at them, they seemed to hit a small ship every time. Why did Finn and the forgettable Asian girl Rose go to that gambling planet? They didn't achieve their mission, so that plot had no effect on the storyline whatsoever. Again, if they were told they would be evacuating to the nearby planet they wouldn't have gone to that planet in the first place (and could have saved us thirty minutes of screen time, but more on that point slightly ahead). If Luke didn't want to be found, why did he leave a map of his location in 'Force Awakens'? Admiral Leila used the force to return to the ship from outer space, but why, when the door opened, no one was sucked out into space? If there is no gravity in space, how do space bombs drop? SO MANY UNANSWERED QUESTIONS!!! To make things worse, this film is over two and a half hours long!!! And if you really think about what happens in the film, nothing really happens. The big ship is stuck in space because they ran out of fuel, Rey is stuck on an island, and the only thing that does happen (Finn and Rose sneaking off to a gambling planet) turns out to be completely irrelevant to the outcome of the story. Two and a half hours long!!!! This storyline would be suffice, and even entertaining, for a 40 minute Star Trek T.V. episode, but for a full length film? I don't think so. It wouldn't be fair not to say nice things about the movie.  The visuals and cinematography were great. The interactions between Rey and Kylo Ren were dramatic and compelling.  Daisy Ridley who plays Rey did a much better job (her mouth less-resembled Keira Knightley). But that was it for me. So, if you are reading this, please, do not judge a film by its visuals alone.  Do not let nostalgia become the reason why a film is a good film.   If you tell film makers that their average film is a great one, then all that will lead to is a pile of mundane, soulless cinema, hence, "Star Wars: The Last Jedi".  Expect more in your films.  As a paying customer, you deserve it. Film Rating: 4 out of 10 P.S. If you are a fan of Star Wars, I highly recommend the animated series Star Wars Rebels.  It is full of interesting developing characters, a well thought out storyline, and music and visuals typically seen in the movies. See, I'm not a Star Wars hater really.
The Last Jedi - It's Bad, But Its What The Audience Deserves content media
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iandayang
Mar 13, 2018
In Film Reviews
Director: Ryan Coogler (Contains mild spoilers) In under one month Black Panther has taken over $1 Billion dollars at the International Box Office, a huge feat for an all black cast; Hollywood, in the recent past, would never have considered the idea that black people being represented on the big screen in such a way could ever grab the attention of a worldwide audience. It is old out-dated ideas like this (ironically, as will be discussed, the main theme of Black Panther) that make the success of the movie grab the headlines and the attention of the media as it did, which was equally matched by the huge hype and anticipation. Whatever the reasons for this global phenomenon, it should hopefully pave the wave to secure more diversity in an industry where diversity should have happened a long long time ago. A sidestep continuation to Captain America: Civil War, we see Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), AKA T'Challa, take on the throne of Wakanda, a fictional African nation invisible to the outside world. The film introduces a country that adhesively follows strong traditions (first notably seen by the incredible and colourful costume and set design), whilst possessing new, modern, highly-conceited alien technology (new to us anyway), and this visual concept becomes the overall theme of the movie - old ideas vs new ones. Whilst the first chapter of the film is sluggish with its introduction of Wakanda and its traditions (one notably being the coronation ceremony and the ritual combat that challenges the rule of the throne), as well as T'Challa, we get to know some of the lesser known characters of the Marvel Universe - in particularly the women. Not only can we see this as a film for black kids growing up with a hero to identify with, but another film (the other being Wonder Woman) where little girls (and boys) can be inspired. Black Panther has an array of bad-ass, strong female characters. Okoye, (Danai Gurira), is head of the Wakanda Special Forces, sworn to protect the king at all costs. At times, she and her soldiers seemingly took the form of an all Grace Jones’ army, an actress who many probably saw for the first time take on a strong black female role in Conan The Destroyer and A View To A Kill. Okoye becomes of great interest when her traditional values is challenged when the new king comes into power. She loves and respects T’Challa, but her love for him cannot overwrite the ways of Wakanda law, and thus, decides to make a heartbreaking choice to stay and protect and advice the new king. T'Challa's younger, humorous, very likeable sister, Shuri (Leitita Wright), is head of the alien technology progress, and brings a James ‘Bondesque’ sonority by providing her brother with new gadgets aiding his quest to take down Ulyssess Klau (Andy Serkis). Her demeanour and personality brings a necessary humour to a film that is driven by deep, serious, dark undertones. Opposing Okoye's traditional values is the restrained love interest of Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) who represents the template of what the future of Wakanda should be; a country that preserves its traditions, but looks outwardly to others in desperate need or to those who wish to establish a more unified international community. All women fight. All women protect the king. All women are women you do not want to mess with. In a time of The Harvey Weinstein scandal, its a message thats very well-timed and very much needed. In the middle of the film we learn through the main antagonist, Eric “Killmonger” Stevens (Michael B. Jordan), AKA N’Jadaka, that T’Challa’s father’s past decisions, which were based on old traditions, led to the uprising aggressions of Eric. T’Challa has to face the fact that his father made great consequential mistakes, and that it is Wakanda itself that has brought on its own destruction. This leads to questions about what sort of king T’Challa wants to be. On one hand, through tradition and keeping themselves to themselves, Wakanda has survived and prospered. On the other, with a fast changing world, new enemies and new forms of attack can not always be tackled alone. In general, the film is a great watch and a must see for reasons already stated. Chadwick Boseman, like his character T’Challa, had a heavy weight on his shoulders taking on a historic, highly anticipated role, who played it with great authentic regality. However, perhaps due to the amount of hype, the movie felt a little bit lacklustre (stressing a little bit). Furthermore, Marvel films have an infamous plague of lacklustre antagonists, something Black Panther is not immune to. Eric is an interesting character and we do identify and sympathise with his cause, but we only get to really meet him half way through the movie where most of his back story is explained rather than shown. For example, he makes a very compelling speech about how Wakanda has just stood by in its riches and prosperity whilst other black people all over the world have suffered. American Slavery, The Civil Rights Movement, #Black Lives Matter, Charlottesville, Rodney King, Stephen Lawrence, are just a few images that spring to mind. We do get a brief encounter in the beginning mirroring the kidnapping of Nigerian women by Boko Haram, but seeing more visuals like these would have helped the audience identify the drive and motive of Eric’s assailments even further. Eric also reveals that his scars - which lay inherent all over his body - symbolises every person that he has killed. Again, some form of visuals of his bloodshed would have helped enhance his ferocity and skill as a fighter and killer and make him seem even more deadly and threatening. Similar problems could also be said about Ulyssess Klau, the South African smuggler who was the first outsider to enter Wakanda and the first outsider to escape it. His likeable, animated, over-the-top character was somewhat problematic. As the main antagonist for the first part of the film, he inadvertently took away most of the ‘bad guy role’ time from Eric. At the same time, his departure half way in the film meant we didn’t really attach ourselves to his character, and thus, our time with him felt insignificant and ineffective. There is also the questionable role of Everett K. Ross (Martin Freeman), a CIA agent previously seen in Captain America: Civil War. After being injured, the only way to save him was to take him to Wakanda. Okoye reminds the king that this practice is not the Wakanda way, but with opposing arguments from Nakia, T’Challa reluctantly brings him to his homeland. A character like Everett would have conventionally given exposition, helping the audience understand the world a lot better. But his introduction to Wakanda occurs more than half way through, and by this time we have seen most of Wakanda already. Everett does help in the final war scenes, but that did not help his role feel any less pointless. Most hardcore comic book fans will know that Everett was an important character and key ally to Black Panther in the novels. Everett’s creator, Christopher Priest, said to newsarama.com in 2015 “...in order for Black Panther to succeed, it needed a white male at the centre, and that white male had to give voice to the audience's misgivings or apprehensions or assumptions about this character... I think that his stream of conscious narrative is a window into things I imagine many whites say or at least think when no blacks are around; myths about black culture and behaviour.”. It is a shame that the film did not come anywhere close to functioning Everett’s character in such a way. Other characters like W’kabi and Zuri (played by Daniel Kaluuya and Forest Whittaker respectively) were fine in their roles, but their roles were too small for actors with such high authority and calibre. Special effects were a fairly disappointing spectacle. The final panther fight scene had a lot of problems with realism, whilst the vibranium nano bots that seemed to be the solution to all problems felt uninspired and unoriginal, failing to take advantage of an opportunity to create something different and out-of-this-world with the alien tech. Although the film does not quite live up to the hype, and despite some minor flaws, Black Panther proves to be a force of paving the way for other minority groups to break into the big Hollywood scene, and justifies the notion that more diversity in film can mean global success. With its underlining themes amalgamated with wonderful cinematography, colourful costume and set design, acting, compelling action scenes (those set in South Korea were highly entertaining), Black Panther makes a great watch and should bring some joy to those of all ages and especially to hard core Marvel fans. Not as good as some of its Marvel predecessors such as The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America: Civil War, and even most recently Thor: Ragnorok, what the film does that the other Marvel films do not, is challenge Hollywood myths and ideology, inspiring and giving hope that a different, brighter, outward looking world is forthcoming. (Film Rating: 7/10)
Black Panther (2018) - Old Vs New content media
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