Saturday, June 22, 2013

Review: World War Z [2013]

"Mother nature is a serial killer. No one's better"

Release Date: 20 June 2013 (Malaysia), 21 June 2013 (USA)
Directed By: Marc Forster
Written By: Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof, J. Michael Straczynski
Starring: Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz, Fana Mokoena, Peter Capaldi, Pierfrancesco Favino
Duration: 116 minutes
In A Nutshell:
A virus outbreak is causing humans to turn into zombies which is rapidly threatening the existence of mankind. It is up to former United Nations employee, Gary Lane (played by Brad Pitt) to find the cause of the pandemic in the hope of finding a cure. Before it is too late of course.

Thumbs Up:
+ Thrilling and suspenseful. I went into the cinema feeling tired and sleepy. I came out feeling I could run a marathon, that's how much of an adrenalin rush I had! (the thought of zombie simulation - "disturbing a dog just so I can run away while it chased me" did enter my mind... but I'm too old to do these dumb and crazy things anymore :P )
+ Fast and extremely aggressive zombies. Now that's what I'm talking about. Like right out of a video game. Or your nightmares. Or even dreams maybe.
+ Zombies on a plane? My, oh my! I wish Samuel L. Jackson was on board too... just to hear his swears reactions.
+ Brad Pitt. The guy is growing on me with every movie he makes. With other A-listers like Johnny Depp, Will Smith, and Tom Cruise having one flop after another, this guy must be the biggest Star in Hollywood right now.
+ The extras playing the zombies, especially the one with Brad Pitt in the WHO lab. If only there was an Oscar for Best Extra.
+ Gary Lane's solution to avoiding zombies. Smart.
Thumbs Down:
- Poor CGI for mass-zombie scenes
- The ending didn't leave us on a high

The Verdict Is In:
Despite already seen and enjoyed the popular zombie films and also the TV show, The Walking Dead, I've never really been a huge zombie fan. Other than not really being fond of horror and gore, I guess I never bought into the premise of zombies taking over the world. Especially those movies where the zombies are all slow-moving (the majority of films it seems). Come on, take over an army camp or police station? Where these guys have an arsenal of weapons and are experts of combat? Especially hard to believe when some movies have the heroes just run through a group of zombies to safety by just shoving them away.

Not the case here. Not only are they fast, but extremely aggressive too. You hide in your car? They just ram their heads through the glass, and within the second attempt are inside. Helicopter near a building? They just jump off the edge of the building in an attempt to catch the helicopter. That's how it should be... no fear. Suspenseful and thrilling. One of my favourite movies of the summer!
9 out of 10

Friday, June 21, 2013

Review: Monsters University [2013]

"I've been waiting for this my whole life..... I'm gonna be a Scarer!!"

Release Date: 20 June 2013 (Malaysia), 21 June 2013 (USA)
Directed By: Dan Scanlon
Written By: Robert L. Baird, Daniel Gerson, Dan Scanlon
Voiced By: Billy Crystal, John Goodman, Helen Mirren, Steve Buscemi, Joel Murray, Sean Hayes,
Dave Foley, Peter Sohn, Charlie Day
Duration: 110 minutes
In A Nutshell:
The prequel story to Pixar's box-office hit, Monsters, Inc. [2001]. In order to achieve his life-long dream to become a "scarer", Michael "Mike" Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) has long wanted to enroll into the prestigious Monsters Univesity as a Scaring major. He succeeds in doing this where fellow classmates also include the son of a famous scarer, James P. "Sully" Sullivan (voiced by John Goodman). Something goes wrong on exam day of their first semester and both Mike and Sully's dreams of becoming scarers are in jeopardy. They make a bet with Dean Hardscrabble (voiced by Helen Mirren) to keep their hopes alive, but they must also seek the help of the unpopular campus fraternity, Oozma Kappa in order to succeed and win the bet.

Thumbs Up:
+ After disappearing for a couple of movies, the amount of heart that made Pixar stories so memorable has returned!
+ The jokes and gags will appeal to all ages alike.
+ Captures the joys of student life perfectly. Those still studying might not fully appreciate it, but good and bad, these times are truly memorable.
+ The Blue Umbrella [2013] - genuinely amazing short animation shown before the film
Thumbs Down:
- Being a prequel and with the knowledge of what would happen to these characters, the element of surprise and suspense is minimized.

The Verdict Is In:
My favourite film studio is back! I was kinda disappointed (still am) with the direction that Pixar is now making - too many sequels. The strength of the company used to be churning out creative and original stories. Thankfully Monsters University is not another Cars 2 [2011]. Although it still won't be one of my all-time favourtite Pixar movies, it is enough to make the studio proud!

Now then, while Marvel studios are well known for their after credit features, Pixar (and now Disney Animation too) has always shown quality short animated stories right before their movies. This movie includes in my mind, one the best of those mentioned shorts yet, The Blue Umbrella [2013]. A legitimate reason that seeing this film at the theaters is worth the time and money!
7.5 out of 10

Friday, June 14, 2013

Review: Man Of Steel [2013]

"The Return Of A Classic Hero"

Release Date: 13 June 2013 (Malaysia)
Directed By: Zack Snyder
Written By: David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan
Starring: Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Russel Crowe, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, Michael Shannon, Antje Traue, Ayelet Zurer, Dylan Sprayberry, Cooper Timberline
Duration: 143 minutes
In A Nutshell:
Planet Krypton is on the verge of destruction. It's planet top scientist, Jor-El (played by Russel Crowe) has sent out his newly-born baby son, Kal-El to seek out safety on planet earth. Here at his new home he is found and taken care of by a couple of farmers and to be raised as Clark Kent (played by Henry Cavill). However the earth's atmosphere and sun has given Clark some special powers.

Thumbs Up:
+ As is the norm, origin stories are always interesting, even the ones we already know and have seen before like this one (well, most of them..... cough.. X-Men Origins: Wolverine [2009] is not on that list... cough)
+ Jor-El was so much in a race against time to transport his son off Krypton, that he forgot to pack some red underwear. The result - the Supersuit looks awesome!!
+ Not only is the suit aesthetically appealing, Henry Cavill looks and plays the role of Superman to perfection.
+ The supporting cast (Russel Crowe, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Kevin Costner, and Michael Shannon) gives good performances in their respective roles too.
Thumbs Down:
- A little too much action over story for my liking. From the trailers (and by loving superheroes), I was anticipating to be emotionally moved by the film. The first half of the movie got me half-way there and that was as far as it went.
- The silly red underwear is gone, but just when I thought the re-interpretation was complete by going all Tony Stark "I Am Ironman!!" on us, they still ended-up with Clark Kent disguising his identity by using only glasses. Do'oh!
- With rumors of a Justice League movie in works I was looking out for signs of a shared universe with other superhero characters. Or an after-credits scene maybe. Also looked out for Stan Lee's custom cameo. I forgot this was a DC character, not Marvel. They aren't cool enough to have any of these (I'm joking, but.... bring on the hate mail).


The Verdict Is In:
Last year when the first teaser trailer was revealed, I wrote on how I had mixed feelings on this movie. A year later, an the result is as expected, quite an entertaining film but not to be considered a classic superhero flick. This could have been so much more. The ending action sequence just felt too darn long. Last year's The Avenger's [2012] also had a long action finale, but yet director Joss Whedon managed to make it work. Just goes to prove that even action sequences need good storrytelling.

Considering the character of Superman is extremely invincible and lacking in pathos, it'll be interesting to see where they take the character now that the origin story is over.
7 out of 10

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Infographic: Iconic Hollywood Cars

Ah, it's been such a long time! Thankfully just when I was gathering some motivation to get back into blogging, I've received an email from the creative guys at about a real cool infograhic they made. Its called "Cars Of The Silver Screen" and it features some of the most iconic Hollywood automobiles ever. Hopefully this will reignite things on this site.

With Fast & Furious 6 [2013] being one of the most enjoyable films of the summer (I know its brainless and absurd... but bucketloads of fun it is too), this is an apt time to feature this infographic too. No cars from that franchise were featured here, but that's probably because they were none that carried enough of an iconic cinematic presence. The 80s fanboy in me will always have a nostalgic preference for the DeLorean from Back To The Future [1985] as well as the Ecto-1 from Ghostbusters [1984]. But the absolute number one of Iconic Hollywood Cars for me just has to be...... (drum rolls car engine rev sound).... the Batman's Tumbler!

So, load-up your plutonium, check the flux-capacitor, and enjoy!

Infographic source: here

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