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All reviews - Movies (65) - TV Shows (25) - Books (1) - Music (1)

Good story that is hobbled by the acting

Posted : 9 years, 2 months ago on 28 March 2011 08:57 (A review of Dark Water)

When Yoshimi Matsubara and her five year old daughter, Ikuko move into an old apartment building, their new life is threatened by a supernatural force.

Dark Water moves slowly, delivering an ever increasing tension and unease instead of relying on the normal shock and gore. It's very much about things that you see out of the corner of your eye or stuff you would chalk down to your imagination.

At a number of points you find yourself wondering if Yoshimi is actually experiencing a nervous breakdown because dripping water shouldn't be scary. Yet Hideo Nakata manages to build such dread into the constant plink of water from the ceiling.

Dark Water is about abadonment and ultimately a soul's desire to connect - there is such a haunting sadness that is very beautiful in this movie.

But as much as I wanted to give it a higher rating, Dark Water's downfall is the performance of the actress playing Yoshimi. In scenes that warrant quick thinking she tended to play the character in a shrill, hand wringing manner or would move slowly when the occassion demanded her to be fast.

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A Funny Thai Rom-Com

Posted : 9 years, 2 months ago on 28 March 2011 08:04 (A review of Kuan meun ho)

Hello Stranger is a romantic comedy about two strangers who meet while on holiday in Korea. While not all that original, this Thai movie manages to be entertaining

The comedic timing is on point and the dialogue between the two strangers (who have agreed not to reveal their names in order to be more honest with each other) is gut-bustingly funny.

I especially loved the send up of Korean tv and movie culture. Korean dramas or "Koreanovelas" as they're known here in the Philippines are everywhere and Hello Stranger plays on this very well.

Hello Strangers loses a bit of steam near the ending but the ending is satisfactory.

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A great caper!

Posted : 9 years, 2 months ago on 21 March 2011 07:02 (A review of White Collar)

Master thief, Neal Caffrey escapes from prison with only a few months left on his sentence. When FBI Agent Peter Burke catches him (he's done this twice before) he offers Caffrey a deal - help the FBI catch white collar criminals in exchange for leniency.

White Collar is charming, witty and filled with interesting characters. The crux of the show is the relationship between Caffrey and Burke. They are perfect foils for one another - Caffrey is suave and charming, Burke more buttoned down and by the book. But a growing respect and friendship develops.
I also love the portrayal of the relationship between Burke and his wife Elizabeth.

There is an overall arc to each season but this does not detract from the cases that Caffrey and Burke deal with in each episode.

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Attack of the Leaping Illogical Lizards

Posted : 9 years, 2 months ago on 21 March 2011 06:40 (A review of V)

This is a review of two seasons of the re-imagined 1980s mini-series/tv show, V. The basic premise involves aliens coming to Earth under the guise of peace and cooperation but whose ultimate goal is to enslave humanity along with the rebels who are fighting them.

V is a superficial science fiction show - glossy, sometimes entertaining but lacking in substance. It's such a shame as there are a number of interesting story lines that the show introduces: what makes an individual human, the side effects of interbreeding between visitors and humans, terrorism, collaboration. But for some reason the writers never delve deeper and often times characters end up doing illogical things in order to serve the plot.

It's a frustrating experience watching V because I really wanted to like it. There are some good episodes: 2.6 - Siege is one of them but they are few and far between that often times I felt like I was watching the same episode over and over again. I had a hard time caring about the human characters because they were just so boring and one dimensional.

V had the potential to be an interesting, thought provoking show but settled for being mediocre.

If you're interested in an episode-by-episode review, do check out [Link removed - login to see]. They do a good job of encapsulating my feelings about V.

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My expectations were met

Posted : 9 years, 2 months ago on 19 March 2011 02:31 (A review of Battle: Los Angeles)

If you were to ask me for a quick movie comparison for Battle: Los Angeles I would say Black Hawk Down + Independence Day. It has the frenetic combat scenes from Black Hawk Down as well as the alien invasion angle (and cheese) of Independence Day.

Battle: LA is an earnest, realistic look at combat during an alien invasion that is anchored by the performance of Aaron Eckhart.

The special effects were outstanding and very realistic and the shaky camera fits in with the tone and look of the movie so it isn't bothersome. Even the basic plot of a team of Marines trying to get a group of civilians to safety is a solid one.

Even though the movie is able to create real tension with the urban combat - you really feel like you're in the thick of things - the main problem is that it telegraphs a number of important scenes. You see them coming a mile away and when the important scene does happen, it feels forced. If the dialogue had been stronger this film would have been much better off for it.

Also, aside from Aaron Eckhart's character, there really isn't much character development - the Marines and civilians are just there to move the plot forward, so it's difficult to care when something bad happens to one of them.

I've been seeing a number of complaints about the same-ness of the battle scenes but come on! The Marines are going through a couple of mile stretch in an urban setting - how "unique" can you make various battle scenes? I thought there were enough differences between each fight to make them stand out from one another.

What makes Battle: Los Angeles work over a movie like Skyline is that even though it has a small focus - this group of Marines are just one part of the actual fighting force - it is able to bring in information that the characters of Skyline wouldn't have available to them and the movie makes sense.

Is Battle: LA going to be an all-time favorite? Probably not but it was still a thrilling movie to watch.

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What The Hell?!

Posted : 9 years, 4 months ago on 17 January 2011 07:15 (A review of The Last Exorcism)

That was my reaction after this movie ended. 80 minutes of good will that the movie earned was lost with the 5-minute schlocky ending.

The Last Exorcism follows Rev. Cotton Marcus, a minister who has come to believe that demonic possession is hokum and that the exorcisms he performs are more a trick for the mind than the actual saving of a soul.
Rev. Marcus and a documentary crew head out to Louisiana to perform one last exorcism - that of a teenage girl, Nell Sweetzer whose father believes she is possessed and has been killing the farm animals.

Daniel Stamm is actually to be commended for delivering a subtle horror film (I know, it seems like an oxymoron). The Last Exorcism is more unsettling than scary, more eerie than gory. So if you went in expecting scares and gore then you would definitely be disappointed.

But this movie hangs on the characters of Cotton Marcus and Nell Sweetzer. The actors' performances are spot on - Marcus is a likable charlatan and Nell plays innocence and troubled so well you start to wonder whether she really is possessed or mentally unstable.

Had The Last Exorcism ended 5 minutes earlier I would have been happy to give this movie a solid 7/10 with a hearty recommendation to go watch it. But the ending was just so bad, so trite, so tacked on that it destroyed my enjoyment of it. I get pissed off just thinking about it.

If you do decide to watch this movie. Please stop the film as Marcus and film crew return to the house. You'll thank me for it

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A Different Kind of Heist Movie

Posted : 9 years, 10 months ago on 21 July 2010 02:11 (A review of Inception)

In a nutshell, Inception is a fantastic movie - multi-layered, thought provoking, action packed and very well acted. Miles above a lot of the dreck that has come out this summer, heck even this year. More spoilerish thoughts below...

The technology exists to allow people to entire your dreams and steal information. But Dom Cobb is tasked with something even bolder and more dangerous - breaking into someone's mind in order to plant an idea.

The trailers for Inception left me intrigued and a bit confused as to what to expect and the 2 plus hours of running time left me a bit iffy. But consider my mind blown - the movie is outstanding with a fantastic story, especially if you buy the conceit that we're actually in Cobb's dream because frankly the notion that Inception is primarily propelled to prevent a business competitor's global domination is not all that exciting.

The dream within a dream within a dream makes Inception feel like you're in different movies - at each layer, characters have different motivations. It makes you question the nature of reality though not as masterful as The Matrix did.

I only have two problems with the movie - the interaction between Mal and Cobb near the end, though needed, dragged down the story's pace and Ken Watanabe's pronuncation issues. A lot of the time I felt like he was talking with a mouth full of marbles. Still, these are minor quibbles that don't detract from the awesomeness of this movie.

I'm going to watch it again before I get into a philosophical and psychological debate about the nature of dreams and reality.

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Surprisingly Entertaining

Posted : 10 years ago on 2 June 2010 08:36 (A review of Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time)

A young Persian prince comes into possession of a mystical dagger is forced to work with a rival princess in order to prevent the destruction of the world.

Prince of Persia is a humorous, action packed, lusciously filmed movie that managed to keep my interest in spite of the predictable storyline. If it weren't for a couple of glaring problems I would have been happy to give this movie a solid 7 out of 10.

I enjoyed the sexual tension between Dustan and Tamina but the romantic moment near the climax of the movie was out of place. I also really had fun with Alfred Molina's character.

One of the issues I have with Prince of Persia is how physically weak Tamina is. I don't need a Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2 type physique but as guardian to the dagger I expected Tamina to have some kind of skills in protecting it. Another thing I didn't like was the Deux Ex Machina for wrapping up the plot which negates the events of the movie prior to that point.

Still, I had a lot of fun watching most of Prince of Persia. A decent movie to escape the summer heat.

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Better than I anticipated

Posted : 10 years, 1 month ago on 30 April 2010 09:00 (A review of Avatar)

From a technical standpoint, Avatar is an ace film. James Cameron has created such a diverse and immersive world in Pandora and deserves kudos for all the special effects work. Stunning and beautiful!

If only he had spent more time on the story, we wouldn't have gotten a re-hash of Dances With Wolves. The human villains are so poorly fleshed out to the point of being caricatures. Why was the desire for the unobtanium worth such actions? There were so many times when I was shaking my head going "Oh you silly humans" with the themes of "Corporations Are EVIL" and "Military Might - AT ALL COSTS".

Though our major characters: Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) had more depth I was most impressed by Saldana's performance. Sam Worthington did a decent job though Na'vi Jake rocked more than Human Jake.

Avatar works best when it focuses on the Na'vi and I honestly think that with an [Link removed - login to see]-like film, Avatar would have been much more interesting.

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Posted : 10 years, 4 months ago on 24 January 2010 01:00 (A review of Invictus)

Invictus is set during the time when Nelson Mandela became President and has an interesting idea to reunite whites and black in a post-apartheid South Africa - encourage the rugby team to win the 1994 World Cup.

The problem I have with Invictus is that it can't quite decide whether it is a film about rugby or Nelson Mandela. The acting is decent and the directing is fine but the movie moves along at such a casual pace there isn't much dramatic tension.

So what if Nelson Mandela collapses because of over work? So what if the Springboks are complaining about all the extra duties they have to perform after practice? I couldn't care - the movie didn't make me care and therein lies the failure of Invictus.

Matt Damon as the Springboks captain Francois Pienaar has nothing to do but play rugby. There were moments when I felt his character was close to being more than just scenery but those were few and far between.
As for Morgan Freeman playing Nelson Mandela...all I really saw was Morgan Freeman with a different accent.
The one thing that I liked was how the movie showed how much respect people had for Nelson Mandel.

Ultimately Invictus is a fine movie to watch but it isn't as uplifting as it ought to have been.

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