Director Don Coscarelli is determined to preserve his gloriously bizarre slice of Hollywood history.
SINGAPORE — Remakes are often tricky territory — after all, not everyone agrees on what elements in the original must also appear in the newer version.
If you’re the philosophical type, you can see how Homestay‘s title is a metaphorical observation about the ephemeral nature of life. Homestay starts slow, even though it does try to elicit the audience’s curiosity with some dramatic moments. It echoes the confusion of the main character himself, as we discover more about the life of the teenage boy, Min (Teeradon ‘James’ Supapunpinyo) alongside the spirit who now inhabits the body.
Warner Bros. has announced the full title for Fantastic Beasts 2... along with a cool cast photo giving us our first look at a young Albus Dumbledore.
It looks as though Warner Bros. and the Tolkien Estate have avoided a bloody legal battle over digital rights.
Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal gets an awesome new prequel TV show - The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. And it's coming soon to Netflix.
Should you watch this if it’s free? OK.Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? No.Score: 2.0/5Secret ending? No.Running time: 133 minutes (~2.25 hours)“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is a science fiction fantasy film that takes place in the “Star Wars” franchise.It tells the tale of how the Death Star came to be, and the events that lead to the “Star Wars: A New Hope”.It stars Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso), Diego Luna (Cassian Andor), Ben Mendelsohn (Orson Krennic), Donnie Yen (Chirrut Imwe), Mads Mikkelsen (Galen Erso), Alan Tudyk (K-2SO), Riz Ahmed (Bodhi Rook), Jiang Wen (Baze Malbus), Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera), and James Earl Jones (the voice of Darth Vader). It is rated PG.“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is about the journey, rather than the destination, since you already know the outcome of the protagonists’ quest — they succeed. That being said, it’s got a muddied perception of what its audience wants. If you’re a long time “Star Wars” fan, this adds nothing to your enjoyment and understanding of the franchise, besides throwing you a few bones in the form of fan favourite characters making cameos. If you’re a newcomer to the franchise, you’ll be lost. What’s happening and who are all these people running around shooting at each other? It’s truly a title that has gone rogue in its objectives.HighlightsAppearances by other Star Wars charactersCharacters of varying degrees of popularity from “Star Wars: A New Hope” make an appearance in the film and some even play a surprising large role in the plot. It’s interesting to see where all the characters are at this point in the series, and it plays on the nostalgia for the old “Star Wars” films since they lend a sense of familiarity to this foreign universe. And this is ultimately the highlight of “Rogue One” — entertaining you with a few minutes of scenes that are reminiscent of “Star Wars: A New Hope”.LetdownsA confusing and ultimately purposeless first two ActsThe film opens with a cliched, but still passably touching sequence which shows us how our main character came to be, then skips over formative years of her childhood to show us Felicity Jones as an adult Jyn Erso. Then it immediately goes into characters asking other characters about different characters, without explaining who any of them are (and why they’re important) to us. They then fly from a planet we know nothing about to another unknown planet, with nary an explanation about the locations. Only much later do we hear something familiar, the Death Star, and from then on everything becomes clearer.But for the first hour, expect to be confused. Either that, or read as much as “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” news as possible to help you figure things out.Exposition is unevenThere is exposition, and you’ll know why the Death Star was built with such a cringe-inducing critical weakness and how Princess Leia got ahold of the plans for the Death Star by the time the credits roll. The problem is that nobody explains anything in the first Act, and everyone’s wearing the same drab colours. Then suddenly, in a meeting room no less, a chunk of exposition is dumped on you about who this motley crew of characters are and how everything’s connected. Would it have hurt to have paced this information out over a few scenes?Sudden changes in character motivations and allegiancesCharacters change their minds in this film through pensive looks and beatific poses. It’s amazing how a few seconds of looking thoughtful can cause a person to take a complete U-turn on their stances and become inspirational speakers or loyal fighters, when earlier on they’re whining about how they only care about themselves. The plot is what drives the characters, instead of vice versa, making this a story that happens only because the writer says so (as opposed to being character-driven).Adds nothing to the Star Wars mythosMost insulting of all is the fact that it adds absolutely no insight to the existing “Star Wars” mythos. It doesn’t shed new light on any characters or places, it doesn’t give us a fresh perspective on the war, and it doesn’t enrich our understanding of the series in any meaningful way. Granted, it’s hampered by the fact that the outcome is already set in stone. But if it adds nothing new, then what’s the raison d’etre of the movie?“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” spends a lot of money to tell audiences what they already know without any of the nostalgia of a remake.“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens in cinemas:– 15 December, 2016 (Singapore)– 15 December, 2016 (Malaysia)– 15 December, 2016 (Philippines) Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.
Secret ending? No.Running time: 133 minutes (~2.25 hours)“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is a British fantasy film that’s a spin-off of the “Harry Potter” franchise, and the first in a planned series of “Fantastic Beasts” films. When Newt Scamander, an eccentric magical creature expert, comes to New York, he finds himself caught in the middle of a magical crisis that only his expertise can resolve. It stars Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander), Katherine Waterston (Tina Goldstein), Dan Fogler (Jacob Kowalski), Alison Sudol (Queenie Goldstein), Colin Farrell (Percival Graves), Carmen Ejogo (President Seraphina Picquery), Samantha Morton (Mary Lou Barebone), Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone), Jon Voight (Henry Shaw, Sr), with cameos by Ron Perlman (voice of Gnarlack) and Johnny Depp (Gellert Grindelwald). It is rated PG.It’s very strange to watch a “Harry Potter” film without having read the book beforehand, which is the case for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” since the plot of the movie is not based on the book. You’re not going into the film knowing what the story will be, neither are you constantly on the lookout for Easter eggs and sly nods to your favourite elements in the book. It’s a refreshing experience, and just the sort of invigoration that the franchise needs to jumpstart its prequel series. HighlightsNewt Scamander is weird but intriguing Before you ask — no, Newt Scamander is not some sort of magical Pokemon trainer, nor is he inspired by that other franchise. The trailers depict him as an oddball, but he’s rather likeable in the actual film itself, with just a smidgen of strangeness. His greatest strength is his compassion (as corny as that might sound), which comes full circle because it is what propels him to New York and is essential for resolving the final conflict. Yet the film doesn’t give away everything about Newt — there’s a hint of his tormented past, which will definitely be explored in future films. Most importantly, he’s a much more interesting character than Harry Potter was.Same same but different“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” has all the familiarity of an old friend, giving us the same magical world that we’ve seen in the previous eight movies, and a British protagonist. But it jazzes things up by showing us the distinctly different world view of the magical Americans. Just like in the “Harry Potter” series, there’s a magical bureaucracy that’s high-handed and short-sighted, but their system is different enough that we sit up and take notice. Their liberal use of Apparition also noticeably stylises their magic. Same enough that we feel comfortable, different enough to keep us coming back for more.New York in the 20’sThe establishing scenes already set 20’s New York apart from Hogwarts, with tall skyscrapers (figuratively) greeting Newt upon his arrival, and the inclusion of magical bigotry is an apt nod to the circumstances of today.��There’s a strong sense of entrepreneurship and possibility, with No-Maj Jacob (Dan Fogler) himself being an aspiring business owner. And the magical architecture has a strong steampunk influence — perfect for an Industrial Age analogy.LetdownsMuch more exposition required“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” takes place in a fairly complicated universe that requires a lot of explanation, especially since magical creatures abound. There’s plenty of space and text to provide the requisite explanation in a book, but on screen, just describing it just once does not suffice. It’s difficult to remember and keep track of each creature since we only hear how their name is pronounced, and not how it’s written. So while the visuals are fantastic, your grasp of what’s happening can be compromised by the lack of exposition.Contrived setup The structure works pretty well after Act One, but how the four characters come together is horribly clunky. They have the flimsiest of reasons to continue staying together, which is effectively summed up as “because I like you”. These are strangers, mind you, and one of them is even a suspected criminal. You can almost see the author’s hand forcing them to stay together until events unfold and mandate that they continue staying together to save the day.“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is a fun return to the world of “Harry Potter” with a protagonist that’s more intriguing than the eponymous hero of the series.Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? Yes, unless you really dislike the Harry Potter series.Should you watch this more than once? No, though you should Wiki it.Score: 3.9/5“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” opens in cinemas:- 17 November 2016 (Singapore)- 17 November 2016 (Malaysia)- 17 November 2016 (Philippines) Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.
‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is expecting a huge opening weekend. The upcoming ‘Harry Potter’ spin-off is tracking a $200 million worldwide debut, which would be a great start for the first film in the new franchise. It’s been five years since the ‘Harry Potter’ saga came to an emotional end with ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2’… and a lot has changed.
It’s official - Johnny Depp is Grindelwald in ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’. During an interview with The Leaky Cauldron, director David Yates confirmed that the rumours are correct - Johnny Depp is Grindelwald in the upcoming ‘Fantastic Beasts’ sequel. Of course, it was recently announced that Johnny Depp would be joining the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ sequel, and would even have a cameo in the first movie.
Secret ending? YESRunning time: 135 minutes (2.25 hours)“Death Note: Light Up the New World” is a fantasy action film that’s based on the manga and anime series, “Death Note”. It’s the fourth in the “Death Note” film franchise and takes place 10 years after the events of “Death Note 2: The Last Name”. In a world where cyber terrorism runs rampant, six Death Notes have fallen to Earth and created a rash of mysterious murders. The heirs to L and Kira search for all six Death Notes, continuing the rivalry of their predecessors. It stars Masahiro Higashide (Tsukuru Mishima), Sosuke Ikematsu (Ryuzaki), Masaki Suda (Yuki Shien), Erika Toda (Misa Amane), Nakamura Shido II (voice of Ryuk), Miyuki Sawashiro (voice of Arma), with cameos by Kenichi Matsuyama (L) and Tatsuya Fujiwara (Light Yagami/Kira).“Death Note: Light Up the New World” is probably one of the most anticipated live-action manga adaptations this year, especially since it’s the continuation of an insanely popular series 10 years ago. It leverages on the nostalgia of the original “Death Note” but adds a few new twists and updates, mainly to the level of technology, to account for how it interacts with the titular Death Notes. It’s more of the same, but lacks the spark that made the original so fascinating.HighlightsFast-paced and excitingThe plot, as usual, is filled with dramatic twists and turns as the three main characters try to outwit each other, even if some of them are on the same side. The plot twists also follow the rules of the original Death Notes instead of coming up with arbitrary new ones, which is an impressive feat given how convoluted the plot can get and the number of conditions to consider for Death Note users and victims. The only quibble is with the final revelation, but besides that, the rest of the plot is fit for the “Death Note” franchise.A strange bromance between Mishima and RyuzakiRyuzaki (Sosuke Ikematsu) feels like an exaggerated, pretentious version of L, but there’s no denying the weird chemistry he has with Mishima (Masahiro Higashide). The pair don’t hit it off and, in fact, rarely get along for most of the film. Yet there’s this glimmer of friendship between the pair which, in hindsight, feels very much like a mentor-mentee relationship. It’s an element not seen in previous “Death Note” films, and gives “Death Note: Light Up the New World” it’s own unique flavour.LetdownsNobody is as intelligent as L and LightIf you’re looking for a thrilling battle of wits… it’s not here. The characters are, plainly put, not of the same magnificent intellect as their forebears. There are no complicated gambits, no stunning revelations and none of that duelling of the minds that L and Light had. Their “descendants” might be carrying on the battle between good and evil, but it’s not of the same quality as before.The final reveal is a tremendous disappointmentThe character who is revealed to have been pulling everyone’s strings all along is the result of a convenient plot device that unnecessarily complicates the story. The problem is that the film wasn’t the result of a well-conceived plot for the betterment of the world. Instead, it hinges on the fact that one character didn’t tell another character a vital piece of information. Tie up that loose end, you’ll have no film. It’s a groan-worthy letdown when you finally find out how circumstances came to be the way they were.Lack of exposition of the rules of “Death Note”Quick, what are the rules of the Shinigami Eyes? If you don’t remember those rules offhand then “Death Note: Light Up the New World” will be incomprehensible. You’ll frequently find yourself consulting your mobile phone or asking your friend what are the properties of the Death Notes, since the film doesn’t explain when certain rules are in play. It’s been 10 years since the last “Death Note” though — couldn’t we at least have had some exposition for the rules of the franchise?“Death Note: Light Up the New World” has the excitement, but not the character development, of the original.Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Yes.Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? If you’re a fan of the “Death Note” series.Score: 3.5/5“Death Note: Light Up the New World” opens in cinemas:- 10 November, 2016 (Singapore)Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.
Secret ending? Yes, and the credits are fun to watch.Running time: 93 minutes (~1.5 hours)“Trolls” is a 3D animated comedy adventure musical based on the eponymous toy brand. A race of tiny Trolls face certain extinction when a race of large giants, the Bergens, discover that eating Trolls brings happiness to them. It features the voice talents of Anna Kendrick (Poppy), Justin Timberlake (Branch), Zooey Deschanel (Bridget), Russell Brand (Creek), Christine Baranski (Chef), John Cleese (King Gristle Sr), and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Prince Gristle Jr). It is, surprisingly, rated PG.“Trolls” could almost be a Disney film, what with characters breaking out into song upon the slightest provocation and the saccharine power of friendship infusing every element of the plot. And it’s rather creative with how the Trolls use their super powers (hint: it’s the hair). It’s just that it lacks that special quality, that sincerity and heart, which would elevate it from being an adequate film to a spectacular one. HighlightsChef steals the show with her barely concealed contemptChef (Christine Baranski) is one sarcastic diva that thoroughly delights in her wickedness. Her sarcasm and disgust for everyone around her, including the Bergens, makes her an entertaining villainess to watch. Although you know she despises her own race, she can’t help but want to be accepted and taken back into their ranks. This conflict between her need for love and her hate for the Bergens gives an odd, but interesting dimension to her, and here’s to hoping she returns in the inevitable sequel.Colourful and cuteThere’s so much colour in the film that it’s like they spilled on a rainbow on everything. It can get pretty psychedelic at times, though the colours thankfully don’t clash in garish ways. The Trolls are also cutened up from the original creepy-looking toys, and look quite huggable. The Bergens are another story though, but then again, they are the antagonists.LetdownsConflict is resolved too easilyWhen the climactic confrontation is literally resolved through a song, like every other conflict in the film, it becomes a trite resolution. You wonder why the Trolls didn’t sing their way to freedom at the beginning of the film, since that’s all it takes for everyone to live happily ever after. For a film that uses a convoluted plot to get people to fall in love, the ending was a sloppy, lazy affair.Bergens look hideousThe Bergens look horrible. And the two central Bergens, the ones we spend most of the film with, look even uglier than the other random Bergens we see on the street. It’s no wonder they can’t find happiness if they look so terrible. Couldn’t they have taken a leaf from “Shrek” when it comes to designing cute monsters? One dimensional charactersVirtually all the protagonists are defined by one single character trait, which conveniently doubles up as their super power. The only protagonist who comes remotely close to having some development is Branch (Justin Timberlake). That’s why Chef steals the show — she has very little competition to deal with.“Trolls” is an amusing attempt to give a story to a decades-old franchise, but plot and character are lacking.Should you watch this if it’s free? Yes.Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? If you like animated features.Score: 2.5/5“Trolls” opens in cinemas:- 3 November 2016 (Singapore)- 3 November 2016 (Malaysia)- 2 November 2016 (Philippines) Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.
Secret ending? No.Running time: 107 minutes (~1.75 hours)“Your Name” (also known as “<your name.>”) is a 2D animated fantasy romance in which a male and female teenager swap bodies at random. It shows how both characters learn to cope with the switches, even though they cannot remember each other’s name after the switch. It features the voice talents of Ryunosuke Kamiki (Taki Tachibana), Mone Kamishiraishi (Mitsuha Miyamizu), Masami Nagasawa (Miki Okudera), Etsuko Ichihara (Hitoha Miyamizu). It is rated PG.“Your Name” is probably one of the best animated features this year, even rivalling “Zootopia” for its skillful use of emotional resonance and powerful visuals to tell its story. What makes it so effective is that the stakes aren’t earth-shattering, but personal. It concentrates on two characters and their ordinary lives - if they can’t achieve their goals, the world would not suffer for it. Instead of a broad canvas, this film covers only a little bit of ivory, two inches wide, requiring the use of the finest brush. And it creates a greater effect than some blockbuster films this year, showing us that it’s the little things that count.HighlightsBreathtaking scenery and backdropsThe locations look like expensive pieces of art, giant swathes of land painted with loving care. Whether it’s a modern metropolis or a quiet village, an apartment bedroom or a vending machine by the road side, they are all romanticised as idyllic havens. That’s not to say there aren’t imperfections in the locations. But instead of perfection, the artwork strives for character, giving colour and personality to places we wouldn’t give a second thought about.The wonderful simplicity and mundane objectsThere are constant close-ups of everyday items, and they’re rendered in the same careful detail as the locations. The animation brings out the otherwise overlooked details of these common objects, helping immerse us in the “Your Name” universe while showing us the beauty of the things we hold everyday. It implicitly encourages us to slow down and enjoy the moment by setting an example in the film itself, and showing us just how wondrous our world is, even if it isn’t a fantasy.Organic, character-driven romanceThe story is almost completely character-driven (except for one painful plot beat) and grows its characters organically by letting their actions dictate what happens next, even if this may sometimes bring us into strange and random segues. This leads to a romance that actually feels modern and deserved, in that the two characters are completely opposites, yet fall in love despite virtually never meeting each other. It’s a love that’s born of connection rather than passion, which is a refreshing take on romances.So many near-missesSometimes you just want to reach out and grab the characters after seeing the number of near-misses they have, especially towards the end of the film. You desperately want them to find each other, yet they seem unable to even if they’re within view of each other. The dramatic irony also highlights a more subtle theme in the film, that we look but do not see, and only in the climax is our need to see them together finally sublimated.LetdownsDeliberate, artificial ignorance of TakiUnfortunately, Act Three springs into action only upon a very heavy-handed manipulation of the plot, in which Taki forgets about a national event that rocked the world only a few years ago. It’s unbelievable that someone as savvy and connected as Taki would be so ignorant about the event (to the point that his friends have to explain the disaster to him, a contrivance which also doubles up as convenient exposition). Yet Taki has to be this ignorant for the story to progress. He behaves true to character otherwise, which makes this one occasion all the more frustrating.“Your Name” shows us to look beyond ourselves and see the true beauty of life.Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? Yes.Should you watch this more than once? If you like the art design.Score: 4.1/5“Your Name” opens in cinemas:- 3 November 2016 (Singapore)- 8 December 2016 (Malaysia)Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes atmarcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.
Will ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ top ‘Harry Potter’? According to Variety, the upcoming spin-off is lining up for an impressive $75 million opening… but that probably won’t be enough to outdo the huge success of the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise. “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is on track to open to a lofty $75 million when it hits U.S. theaters next month,” they explain.
It’s official - four more ‘Fantastic Beasts’ movies are on the way. During a live Q&A at the Fantastic Beasts Facebook Page, ‘Harry Potter’ author J.K. Rowling confirmed that the upcoming spin-off movie is the first in a five film franchise. “[J. K. Rowling] has just confirmed the magic continues in a total of FIVE MOVIES!” confirmed the film’s official Twitter feed.
Secret ending? No.Running time: 117 minutes (~2 hours)“L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (爵迹)” is a 3D motion capture animated action fantasy adventure wu xia film. In a distant realm where martial artists battle each other with the power of their souls, an unlikely coincidence reveals a dark conspiracy that could tear apart the entire world. It features the likeness and voice talents of Fan Bingbing (Kuizan Lotus), Kris Wu (Silver), Cheney Chen (Chi-Ling), William Chan (Nether), Amber Kuo (Thalia), Yang Mi (Shen Yin), Lin Yun (Phantom Flower), Yan Yikuan (Kuizan Feng When), Aarif Rahman (Ni Hong), Roy Wang (Pale Boy), Wang Duo (Kila). It is rated PG-13.“L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (爵迹)” is a large improvement over previous Chinese animated films. It features a complicated but nuanced plot (pay attention to the details!) and imaginative animation to complement the plot. With a rich and well thought-out mythology, exciting and creative battles, and a lot more room to expand the material, “L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (爵迹)” is a large leap forward for Chinese animated films.HighlightsExcellent facial animation The close-ups are so lifelike that you could almost mistake them for real human faces, and have none of that uncanny valley discomfort, probably because they are based on familiar stars already. Their emotiveness is also nearly indistinguishable from regular people, again, probably due to the fact that it is motion capture based. Emotions are the backbone of any good drama, and “L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (爵迹)” does well in this regard.An epic plotWhat begins as a misunderstanding eventually evolves (a bit abruptly though) into a plot that threatens to undo the established world order. It piles revelation and revelation upon you as the film races towards its conclusion. You’re left with the sense that you’ve barely scratched the surface of the grand machinations that are occurring behind the scenes. Fluid fight scenes“L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (爵迹)” delivers on the fight scenes, which look straight out of a martial arts anime. It’s not just random bursts of energy and colourful movement effects — each character has a distinctly different fighting style. Some might utilise fantastic beasts (though it doesn’t say where to find them) while others manipulate multiple weapons in a fight. Element wielders abound as well.LetdownsRegular movements seem awkward and unnaturalWhile a lot of attention was paid to the fight scenes and emotional close-ups, it seems like they forgot about the regular movements, like walking and talking. When it comes to these less fancy scenes, they really remind you that this is a computer animated feature, thanks to the robotic and eerily smooth movements. Well, at least they know where to spend their money.Chi-Lin is so clueless he could possibly be brain damagedThe story is told mostly from the eyes of Chi-Lin (Cheney Chen), who is the Everyman in the story and hence has everything explained to him. He is portrayed as the blur goofball to ostensibly enhance his cuteness and appeal. Unfortunately, he is dumbed down to the point of not being able to function as a human being, much less being a superb martial artists. He is so dim-witted that it’s a surprise no other character has throttled him yet.“L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (爵迹)” is an energetic film that needs some work on consistency and characterisation. Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Yes.Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? Nah.Score: 3.0/5“L.O.R.D. Legend of Ravaging Dynasties (爵迹)” opens in cinemas:- 13 October 2016 (Singapore)Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.
Secret ending? No.Running time: 127 minutes (~2 hours)“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is a fantasy adventure film about a secret race of super powered humans living in cloistered time loops. They find themselves in grave danger when their hiding places are exposed. It stars Eva Green (Miss Alma LeFay Peregrine), Asa Butterfield (Jake Portman), Chris O'Dowd (Franklin Portman), Terence Stamp (Abraham Portman), Judi Dench (Miss Esmeralda Avocet), Ella Purnell (Emma Bloom), and Samuel L. Jackson (Mr Barron). It is rated PG-13.The immense challenge that “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” faces is the fact that we’re already saturated by stories of super powered beings, so any story about the discovery of a secret world of super powers has to avoid retreading the same standard tropes. Unfortunately, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” doesn’t offer anything new on that front (besides some macabre scenes), and the mentor character (Miss Peregrine) herself is insufferable, even though the Peculiar Children are rather cute.HighlightsAsa Butterfield and the cast for the Peculiar Children are quite adorableWhile Asa Butterfield (Jake Portman) might look too eager to please in posters, he’s actually a rather endearing protagonist who has his emotions tugged in different directions. To top it off, he’s not only filial, but a secretly romantic fellow (as the final Act will show you). His performance as Jake is probably one of the most underrated aspects of the film. The Peculiar Children are also adorable little creatures of frightening power, and their innocence is what makes their performances touching but natural.LetdownsEva Green’s overactingEva Green channels as much Mary Poppins and stiff upper lip Britishness into Miss Peregrine as she can, so much so that she seems like a caricature of Mary Poppins at times. One or two demonstrations of how exact and proper she is would be enough — we don’t need her to glimpse at her pocket watch every two scenes. Her desperate attempt to keep her posture as straight as possible makes it seem like the producers have no idea what Miss Peregrine’s character is, apart from the fact that she’s vaguely birdlike.Terribly exaggerated colour correction“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” is so afraid that you won’t be able to catch the nuances of the different locations that it turns the dial up to eleven on colour correction in both directions. Either it’s a drab, dreary blue or an impossibly chirpy gold. Whatever editing software was used for this film certainly needs to be updated or thrown away.Plot logic (or lack thereof)The Peculiar Children boast several incredibly powerful characters amongst them, some who have an instant kill power and others who control the elements. Yet they’re unable to take down opponents who have similar or weaker powers? They’re children, true, but if you can instantly kill someone with your abilities, why does that make anyone a threat to you? Why doesn’t the film ever address this glaring loophole?Only picks up halfway in Act Two“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” drags its heels so long in the reveal of a secret world and special powers that you’re dying to hit someone on the head with a mallet and tell them to just accept the oddness of the world and get on with it. It only picks up midway through the film, when the central conflict is established and the threats and stakes are revealed. By then you’re so exhausted with the speed of the plot that okay, you’re just going along for the ride.“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” would have been a great film ten years ago.Should you watch this for free? Yes.Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? If you’ve read the book or you like superhero/fantasy films, yes.Score: 2.5/5“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” opens in cinemas:- 29 September 2016 (Singapore)- 29 September 2016 (Malaysia)- 28 September 2016 (Philippines)Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.
Secret ending? No.Running time: 92 minutes (1.5 hours)“A Chinese Odyssey Part Three (大话西游3)” is a Chinese fantasy adventure comedy that’s the sequel to 1995’s “A Chinese Odyssey Part One: Pandora’s Box (西游记第一百零一回之月光宝盒)” and “A Chinese Odyssey Part Two: Cinderella (西游记大结局之仙履奇缘)”. It’s loosely based on “Journey to the West” and sees the characters from the first film attempting to right the Jade Emperor’s mistakes. It stars Han Geng (Monkey King/Joker), Karen Mok (Bak Jing-jing), Jacky Wu Jing (Longevity Monk), Gillian Chung (Thirteenth Mother of Spring), Tiffany Tang (Zixia), Sophia Hu Jing (Guan Yin), Xie Nan (Princess Iron Fan), Shawn Huang (Bull Demon King), Wang Yibo (Red Boy), Huang Zheng (Jade Emperor), and Cho Seung-youn (Pigsy). It is rated PG-13.You know what they say about the third movie in the series? “A Chinese Odyssey Part Three (大话西游3)” fulfils all those stereotypes, being a complicated mess that tries hard to ape the style of the first two films but falling flat. And it’s been over 20 years — surely more thought could have been put into the story? It’s all shiny glitz and elaborate costumes, but what it lacks is heart.HighlightsPop culture jokes and referencesThis is one element which the film has in common with its predecessors — its penchant for inserting anachronistic humour into a period story. It’s done very clumsily, but it still manages to eke out a few chuckles in the rare instances where it works.LetdownsLongevity Monk is thoroughly disappointingThe problem with Longevity Monk (Jacky Wu Jing) is that he looks like a sleepy pervert with that faint, knowing smile on his face all the time. To make things worse, he has no sense of comic timing, and just ends up delivering his lines and actions in the same style throughout the film. He has no bonds with the other characters, meaning that you don’t even have the more seasoned performers to save his acting. He is, without a doubt, the worst aspect of the film.Too much maniacal laughterCharacters break into fits of laughter on the slightest provocation, throwing back their heads in incredibly odd displays of pleasure. It might have been mildly amusing the first few times, but it just seems trite halfway through the film. Did the script have any other direction besides “maniacal laughter?”Low quality special effectsWhile I applaud the creativity of the special effects, there’s just no mistaking the sub-par quality of the animated portions. If it were intentionally bad, that would be funny — instead, it tries hard to be good, only to be constrained by the skill of the animators. And the green screen looks like an intern did it.Heavily dependent on your knowledge of previous filmsIt links back heavily to previous films, except that the actors are no longer the same. This is something that “A Chinese Odyssey Part Three (大话西游3)” tends to forget, which muddies an already convoluted plot. A lot more exposition and reminders were required, since a movie that came out in 1995 isn’t something that would still be fresh in everyone’s minds.“A Chinese Odyssey Part Three (大话西游3)” is an insincere attempt to continue a decades-old movie franchise.Should you watch this if it’s free? OK…Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Only if you watched the first two Stephen Chow movies.Score: 2.25/5“A Chinese Odyssey Part Three (大话西游3)” opens in cinemas:- 22 September, 2016 (Singapore)- 15 September, 2016 (Malaysia)Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.
Secret ending? No.Running time: 102 minutes (~1.75 hours)“Kubo and the Two Strings” is a 3D stop-motion animated fantasy action adventure film about a boy on a quest to gather the lost pieces of his father’s armour, in an attempt to prevent his demented grandfather from killing him. It features the voice talents of Art Parkinson (Kubo), Charlize Theron (Monkey), Matthew McConaughey (Beetle), Ralph Fiennes (the Moon King), and Rooney Mara (the Sisters). It is rated PG.Although exams are just around the corner, “Kubo and the Two Strings” is perfect for the whole family, with its touching themes and fluid animation. It might seem like an overdone premise (do we really need another Western adaptation of Eastern culture in animated form?) but it’s one that’s executed well without fetishising the Japanese elements of the film. It’s only after the film ends that you realise the significance of the title, and how it plays into the theme of family and memories.HighlightsFluid animation“Kubo and the Two String” may be stop-motion animation, but the actions are so smooth and seamless that you can hardly believe that this was done with physical objects, especially since they have three distinctly different movement styles to work with (human, monkey, and giant insect). The textures are similarly very well polished, with hardly any imperfections on the props or characters. The only deformities are intentional ones to show injuries and damage taken by the characters. It’s one of the most impressive feats of stop-motion out there.Coming-of-age themesAt heart, Kubo (Art Parkinson) is lost, lonely boy who’s looking for his family to complete himself. His journey to make himself whole is one that everyone can identify with, especially since Kubo must learn to come to terms with his situation in order to grow as a person. As a character, he’s also easy to empathise with because he tries his best despite his circumstances. And when he finally matures (just in time to battle the final enemy), we feel that we’ve grown with him.Interesting fight scenesThe fights take place across spectacular locations and with interestingly weird enemies, and the fact that they’re all choreographed through stop-motion makes them it even more awe-inspiring. Even though Kubo and his companions use magic, which is usually ill-defined and vague, you still instinctively understand their capabilities and limitations, meaning that the tension in the battles is real.The twist in the tale“Kubo and the Two Strings” has an unexpected twist that’s also rather heartbreaking when it occurs. But it’s this twist that fuels the emotional drive for the last Act, and gives Kubo a tangible reason to face his greatest challenge. Don’t think too much about it though, or you might find some inconsistencies in the story.LetdownsA lacklustre endingAlthough most of the fights in the film are exciting and innovative, the final battle lacks the same magic. In terms of plot and emotion, it’s resolved satisfactorily. But the actual physical conflict leaves much to be desired, and the resolution to the battle is flat.Still, “Kubo and the Two Strings” is one of the few times that the West has done Eastern culture some justice.Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Yes.Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? Yes, unless you dislike animation.Score: 3.75/5“Kubo and the Two Strings” opens in cinemas:- 8 September, 2016 (Singapore)- 25 August, 2016 (Malaysia)- 12 October, 2016 (Philippines)Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. He Tweets/Instagrams at Optimarcus and writes at marcusgohmarcusgoh.com. The views expressed are his own.
‘Harry Potter’ author J K Rowling has caused a Twitter meltdown. JK Rowling took to Twitter today to send a message to those heading back to school… and it referenced the first day at Hogwarts for Harry Potter’s son, Albus Severus Potter. It’s a reference to the epilogue of the final book, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ which sees the original ‘Harry Potter’ kids dropping their kids off at Platform 9 ¾ for their first year at Hogwarts.
According to the Daily Mail, the 77-year-old ‘Lord of the Rings’ actor turned down the chance to officiate a wedding as Gandalf… despite a $1.5 million paycheck. Of course, Sir Ian McKellen is no stranger to officiating weddings – he qualified as a ‘celebrant’ back in 2013 in order to conduct the civil wedding of his long-time pal, Sir Patrick Stewart, and fiancée Sunny Ozell.