Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

Thanks to the generosity of Marketing firm MUSTARD SEED I went for the preview of The Conjuring tonight at Marina GV. There is a reason why I’m reviewing movies – it is an efficient form of recreation on a dollar to time-engaged ratio. I’ll have a recreation for the struggling entrepreneur piece soon.

Bottom Line: 4/10

Disappointing. Predictable but watchable. Set in the mid 70s, Family of  7 (with no less than 5 girls who are too young to have the obligatory nudity rampant in American horror/slasher) move into an old house, that is haunted. They get scared, experts come in. Cue ghostbusters theme.

Worth the price of entry? – If you are expecting Cabin in the woods calibre props, special effects and monsters, be prepared for sheer budget you-barely-see-it blair witch tomfoolery with inconsistent shaky cam (although not shot in ‘found footage style’ which felt less POV than sloppy camera work.) that caused me some degree of vertigo-esque discomfort. Not much of spoiler, but you get to see a corpse-paint witch, maid with slit wrists, crying mother with more corpse paint and kid-that-appears-in-mirror. Perhaps they hired an out of work femme Deathmetal band and got them to bring in family members. Not that you need much acting skills to play dead people who either stare at you or scream. Cinematographer did good framing and transition work though to carry off a supernatural state of suspense and terror. Too bad he was held back by the cast.

Scary moments were well thought out with deliberate and well crafted sound-scapes (kudos to the original composer)  but not enough to save the movie for the supposed climatic effects that drew some hoots rather than screams from my cohort of reviewers. The religious overtone was also quite dense, with special emphasis brought to bear on the victim family being ‘non-baptised’. The latter contrived commentary could just be a cheap a shot at the Vatican, particularly since the true exorcist never made it to the premises due to bureacracy and Patrick Wilson had to power through a horrifically enunciated Latin exorcism ritual scene with much less conviction than a taxi driver running after the LTA parking attendant mid-bakchormee.

The air of mystery was pierced rather immediately once the paranormal investigators, who while the actors played to a tee, were somewhat of a buzzkill.

Not recommended to watch with clients, but if your spouse is a horror junkie, there might be some value. She better not have a headache later.

Bottom Line: 6 / 10

My honest thought that the movie was a very good commentary on Chinese pugilism in the 21st Century. The writing generated a good film pace and a rather good cast – though Karen Mok and her beautiful mouth (perhaps her only redeeming feature) was given a rather cursory role as an investigating detective, authentically speaking canto while the rest of the cast spoke in Mandarin or English. The even a cameo for Iko Uwais the star of Indonesia’s The Raid: Redemption. The story depicts a Tai chi practitioner who in an amazing bout of innovation decides to invent a spectacular aggressive  permutation of his chosen martial school and gets ultimately corrupted and SURPRISE…. redeems himself.

Of course I went into watching the show with an intense skeptism of Keanu Reeves’ directorial debut as well as him inserting and casting himself as the nefarious Dohaka Mark, a villain (the surprise) who organises underground no-holds-barred voyeuristic fighting matches.

Though Perhaps one could read deeper into the themes, and yes maybe I try too hard but that’s my prerogative on the blog, so bear with me – you get to see protagonist Chen Lin hu become a good allegory for the Chinese as a nation (come on, even the surname is as generic as it gets -Chen = Tan here too, even makes sense in a Singaporean context.)  He does his blue collar delivery job with adequate obeisance (working class hero / working class) in which he dons a bright yellow jacket, while displays a stark dichotomy by talking suavely in martial arts tournaments and swaggers after wins while deviating from the normal gentleness of his style ‘ling kong tai chi’ of which he is the only heir (Entrepreneurial mindset / embryonic innovator) but is chided by his aging Master (authority figure / Cultural conservatism)  whose temple is about to be shut down for safety violations. Keanu, the necessary Caucasian face of western monetary and/or economic intervention runs a shady security company that seduces Lin hu to abandon his ethics in favour of a much higher cashflow (One is tempted to assume America as a coercive force, but let’s use our imagination, shall we?) . We at first see him use the newfound funds to buy home appliances and better food for his parents of which he is typically an only son, but later starts taking greater liberties in both his in-match and out-of-the-ring behaviour until he’s basically Van Damme in real life (ba dum tish). I found a good basis for my interpretation – almost every opponent that he fights has a nationality of a Tier-one chinese city economic competitor – A russian who has his eyes stabbed out, a northern chinese fighter (northern states?) , a Korean in full Tae Kwon Do gi and culminating in a showdown with Iko Uwais’ character of which, oh my, our hero is hesitant to beat up (Indonesia: 3rd largest population in the world, fast growth rate and earnest competitor? Some people might think otherwise)

Rather than go into the full details of the plot, here’s the highlights of why you should probably watch this with a client and make some semi-intelligent conversation using my points and not giving me any credit.

1. Action sequences are worth it because of Yuen Wo Ping‘s choreography – but I personally don’t appreciate the introduction of wire-fu-ness towards the end. It took away from the gristle of realism enforced throughout the whole frontal portion of the film where the fighting was both brutal and believable.

2. Themes are deeper than perceived. Already described in paragraph above. Feel free to liberally expound the faux-depth this fighting movie brings to the table to your candy-crush-preoccupied spouse, I’m sure a client on the other hand will minimally act amused.

3. You get to see Keanu Reeves get his ass handed to him. For me that’s the whole $10 SGD price of the ticket right there. First time he directs and casts himself as a villain and the first time he shoots himself getting whooped. Well, you get 20 seconds of Neo-nostalgia, just no cheesy movement restricting trenchcoat and vision-impairing sunglasses in a brawl.

Mark – away!

What am I doing, throwing my irreverent comments onto del toro’s work on Pacific Rim on what is supposedly a blog principally for entrepreneurs? So why not have the elevator pitch version of a review to express my innate compulsion to motivate (or demotivate) would-be viewers whether this morsel of entertainment would offset your personal time value of money?


Bottom Line: 7 / 10
1. More than enough CG effects to be worth your money as with Man of Steel.

2. More plot holes than jarlsberg cheese –
Spoiler Alert (Scroll away before its too late! Unless you are like me and would rather have precise, explicit plot details pre-show. #Arvin_I_am_your_father)

  1. Tactical nuclear warhead can wipe out an advanced ‘mk 5’ at close range and not a beaten up mk3 with an obvious hull breach from loss of arm.
  2. With such a high level of bioengineering why didnt the damn aliens just invent a plague that self-replicates Kaiju using Earth’s local biomass? Or how about sending 50 at quick succession and focus attacks on key infrastructure (hive mind coordination = superior battle coordination?) – Alien commander Fail; and yes, just STARE at the cause of your demise instead of reacting sensibly.
  3. The infrastructure cost of the ‘wall of life’ would be more manual and inefficient than mechanising the Jaegers using Six Sigma methods. How about a geosynchronous satellite that drops a Kaiju killing payload just above the damn breach. The UN in the story really had a shortage of entrepreneurial minds contributing ideas to solving the monster problem – the only character I can relate to is Ron Perlman‘s 🙂 Now that’s MARKET CREATION

There are more, but I tire. Good distraction for about 2 hours and bring the boys.