Tuesday 31 March 2015

Ah Boys to Men 3: Frogmen

THE third instalment of Singapore's Ah Boys to Men franchise lives up to its hype in its homeland.
   I watched this film the day after the funeral of the island republic's founding father, Lee Kuan Yew, and it would have been hard not to separate his identity from the film. His desire to create a modern, efficient and straitlaced society is seen this film.
  The film, by director and co-writer Jack Neo, is about proclaiming to the world the merits of the nation's National Service, which is compulsory for men.

Saturday 28 March 2015

Alien Outpost ... Fighting illegals

ALIEN Outpost reminds me of 2011's Battle Los Angeles with Aaron Eckhart. Both have macho US
soldiers displaying their grit and courage in fighting funny-looking creatures who have invaded the world.
   The former, however, is downright boring. It displays the hackneyed elements of a war film, such as brash cardboard soldiers taking the piss out of each other, and attempting to humanise the soldiers by showing their softer side. There's always a scene of soldiers teasing a soldier about a picture of his girlfriend.

Fast and Furious 7 ... Stuck in 1st gear

THE Fast and Furious franchise is back for the seventh time, but without Paul Walker, who
died in a car crash (ironic, isn't it?). It was nice of Vin Diesel to name his newborn daughter Pauline in honour of his former friend.
   The film carries on with the theme of family. It's not every man for himself, but it's every man for this multiracial family.
  Furious 7, however, gets stuck in first gear and never gets going. I felt bored and restless in the first few minutes and hoped that the action scenes would rev me up. However, despite all the hullabaloo happening on screen, I never felt aroused by it.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

The Gunman ... Shooting itself in the foot

ON the surface of it, The Gunman is a study about the humanitarian cost brought about by private contractors operating in destitute African countries.
   Under the surface, however, it's about elderly man Sean Penn, 54, following in the footsteps of another elderly man, Liam Neeson, in blowing away baddies to show that he's still got the full package and is a virile, active and sexy man.
  Penn has something in common with Neeson in that French director Pierre Morel, who directed The Gunman, also directed Neeson in Taken. In both films, elderly white men take centrestage and show everyone that they're not to be messed with.

Home ... 'Oh' dear me

HOME'S structure is similar to a road movie, in that two diametrically-opposite characters are stuck in close confines and travel a long distance to attain a goal. They rub each other the wrong away when they first meet, but by the end of the journey, they've rocked each other's world and have become bosom bodies.
   Jim Parson (TV's The Big Bang Theory) lends his voice as the sympathetic but walking mound of mistakes Oh, a purple alien who's ostracised by his own people. 

Monday 23 March 2015

Run All Night ...

I WAS getting bored of watching Liam Neeson, 62, in his senior-citizen mode whipping all those
who stood in his way.
    I was not too thrilled after watching Neeson in Taken 3 and A Walk Among The Tombstones, but his third collaboration with Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra, after Unknown and Non-Stop, shows him at his best.
  He plays a henchman's thug, Jimmy Conlon, who at the start, is haunted by nightmares of all those he has killed under the orders of his boss Shawn (Ed Harris). He can't forget about his sins, and the rest of the film is about him seeking redemption, while killing a few people on the way.

Saturday 21 March 2015

Whiplash ... Beating the drum for excellence

WHIPLASH is about a sadistic conservatory band leader, Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), who pushes students, in particular Andrew (Miles Teller), to the limit.
    Fletcher hurls abuses at band members and denigrates them. He uses personal information about Andrew, for example, about his mum who had walked out on her family when he was kid, and taunts him about his shortcomings. The students cower in fear of him.
   As portrayed by Simmons, who won an Oscar best supporting actor award for this role, Fletcher really believes that he is pushing students to achieve their potential. Andrew asks him if this will make students lose heart. Fletcher says top students will not be put off by setbacks.
    Watching this film for a second time made me realise that Fletcher could have been a guard at the infamous Abu Ghrabi prison in Iraq, which made headlines worldwide for leaked pictures showing US soldiers humiliating prisoners.


TRACERS involves a lot of running and jumping, and a bit of soul-searching for handsome Taylor
Lautner when he's kicked out of his rented garage for mingling with a nasty Chinese-American illegal money lender.
   For the part about the Ah Long (loan shark), Tracers is similar to Malay films that depict Chinese money lenders in an unflattering light.
  The parkour parts were interesting but they got tedious after awhile.
  The film can be read as a white male (Lautner) regaining his dignity and virility after being down in the dumps.
   He also gets to sleep with beautiful blue-eyed brunette Marie Avgeropoulos, who's in a relationship with a thief.

2 out of 5 stars

Wednesday 18 March 2015


THE best thing I can say about Insurgent, the sequel to last year's Divergent, is that its appealing young star, Shailene Woodley, who plays heroine Tris, keeps on growing on me. I found the first film's Personality Plus idea intriguing and it certainly gave viewers a cheat card on how to assess people's personalities.
   Insurgent recounts the traits of the personality groups and sets off on a war cry early on, with Tris and macho lover Four (a choleric) seeking to exact revenge on Jeanine (Winslet).
   I don't know why, but this desire for blood reminded me of the first Star Wars trilogy. Viewers will remember that neither the rebels nor the Empire ever sought to talk things over first instead of rushing into battle.


CINDERELLA'S a nice tale about accepting people for whom they are, regardless if they are poor, but as long as they are blonde, beautiful, are courageous and have a good heart.
    Girls grow up actually believing that a prince, who's wealthy beyond belief, will go against social convention and marry below his station. They may as well believe that a hunky young billionaire who's into S&M will go out of his way to court a virgin, including taking her on helicopter rides.
    Director Kenneth Branagh does a snappy job with this Cinderella; he keeps things moving along speedily and expectantly.
     Richard Madden is stiff as the studly prince who learns to stand on his two feet; Lily James does as much as can be expected of her. And like in Fifty Shades of Grey, the amorous couple just doesn't click.
    However, viewers' expectations are lower for this mushy film, and it's only the cool demeanour of Cate Blanchett as the stepmother that adds a frisson of danger to proceedings.

2 out of 5 stars

Wednesday 4 March 2015

Fifty Shades of Grey

THE film reminds me of coitus interruptus. It is abrupt and you are
left unfulfilled.
  Also, the 20 minutes of soft porn in this two-hour movie are mild and uninteresting. Viewers will have seen them before, including the spanking parts.
  Jamie Dornan's portrayal of Christian is stilted. I found his character dull, even though women will scream at the sight of his taut body.
   Viewers will scratch their heads about why Christian falls for Anastasia (Dakota Johnson).
   The film doesn't make a strong case why they should be together, and viewers will find the scenes between the two unnatural and unmoving.
   For a film that's supposed to be titillating, the only scene I found arousing was of Anastasia chewing on a Grey House pencil.

1 out of 5 stars