Movie Double Review: Gulliver’s Travels 3D & The Mechanic

It has been a while since I have been to the theatre and I know why: there’s really nothing truly worth of value at the moment. I will not be verbose in my reviews as it is not truly necessary.

Gulliver’s Travels 3D

The movie is less than decent and effectively ruined the story I loved back in my childhood days. There were some moments of dry humour but the overall production values were a jumble; some scenes looked good enough and the rest were disappointing. It’s 2011 and somehow camera manipulation between giant and midgets is inexplicably disastrous. I also fail to see why the movie advertises itself in 3D as apparently there is nothing 3D-ish about it. As for the story… a used condom has more interesting travel tales to tell. View trailer here.

The Mechanic

Movie is average; better than the one above for sure but has an uneven pace. It starts off slowly, a prominent guy gets killed without much character development for you to care about, and eventually picks up into lots of explosions and shooting. Story is predictable with absolutely no twist whatsoever. View trailer here.


Movie Review: The Social Network

Having been dragged to watch The Social Network was quite an ordeal by itself. As if the world needed yet another dose of Social Media Crack, we are now presented with a film narrating the (real?) story behind one of the most successful social platforms, Facebook.

Mind you I am not against the medium. Believe it or not I actually do work in a media agency that has a strong social media function. However I do not find the need to be part of the 80% of people who claim to be a Social Media Adjective and some Legendary Entrepreneur because I retweet Mashable and think that opening an online scarf shop is the next big thing (if it really is, though, well done on becoming an entrepreneur at that stage).

The Social Network

Back to the film: It’s surprisingly good. Not that I thought for a minute I would be very interested in knowing how Facebook came about – this is a Hollywood film afterall and is bound to be full of fiction – but it is because of the story telling and the plethora of interesting and funny actors.

While we tend to think the geniuses behind the big websites we use are a bunch of basement dwelling robots (and maybe, they are, and that is their choice if they’re happy with it), the film narrates the story of the personal struggles of the main characters with coping with the idea that they’re on to something. You can truly feel the zest and energy of the film as The Next Big Thing on the way happens.

However fictional the story is, it did a great job in creating a believable tale of intimate human relationships filled with humour. For a “drama” documentary it felt like a two hour sitcom. And I don’t see why not; if you’re going to add some fiction around someone’s life you might as well make it sweet and funny rather than bitter and grim – especially that Mark is still alive and kicking, something which I found an odd thing to do but someone had to jump on the social media bandwagon.

The Social Network

If you take out the fact that we’re talking about Mark and Facebook and social media then you end up with a regular weekend comedy in home pizza night with the friends type of movie. And quite frankly I think this is what the aim of the film really is.

Movie Review: Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

I was very excited when I stumbled upon the trailer by accident on YouTube. One of my all time favourite Disney films, finally remastered into 3D, with Depp as one of the main characters.

But I was in for some surprises.

The movie is not a re-imagination of the story, and though as much as Tim claims it is not a sequel, it’s not a self-contained story either. It’s taken for granted that any human being who is likely to go watch the movie has prior knowledge of Alice and all the characters that are involved in the story, so the 2010 film does very little in re-introducing the characters and does even less in character development, except for Alice, the Red Queen, and the Hatter.

Alice in Wonderland

As far as the story goes, Alice this time around is older and, odd marriage theme aside, has to slay the Red Queen’s pet the Jabberwocky and return the crown to the White Queen. It’s literally as simple as that, but the journey is still entertaining though there are some questionable design elements. The gore, specifically, is an odd addition to the story. Though there is no blood, you will get to see chopped heads, chopped fingers, and pins thrust into eyeballs – several times. These elements contrast heavily with the humour derived from the former Disney’s flick as well as the humorous character designs.

The new Underland is a wasteland of its former self, but the art direction is truly fantastic. It’s quite clear that the overall tone of the film is more mature than the cartoon, especially the Red Queen’s struggle of being ugly but has the need to be loved. In all honesty I felt terribly sorry for her, and the story goes all the way of punishing her for that (but of course she was doing it in the wrong way).

Alice in Wonderland

The movie, however, is a bit better than the sum of its parts, and while some elements don’t really add up, it’s taken for granted that the familiarity with the characters, the nostalgia, the art direction and seeing Cheshire Cat’s grin again is what you will likely be taking with you out of the movie by the time it ends.

Movie Review: James Cameron’s AVATAR in IMAX 3D

Thank you Lord for blessing humans with creativity, the technology to make it happen, and my eyesight to see it.

I don’t know how the movie would look in a regular screening, but getting one of the best seats in the IMAX theater and enjoying the movie like it was envisioned in Cameron’s mind is something truly extraordinary. I feared that I may have been too over-hyped about the movie given the buzz surrounding it, but believe you me I have read nothing on the movie and have had it, for a long while, mixed up with Avatar The Last Airbender movie, coming out later.

Avatar Movie

So yes, you could say that I was entering the movie knowing that it was in 3D and that it featured blue people.

And I was SHOCKED!

I need to get this out of the way: though the IMAX gigantic screen really did help in the immersion into the movie, like all other movies shown in 3D (IMAX or not) there is this general fuzziness and softness to textures that degrade the quality (if you’ve seen it and seen the trailer below, you’d know what I am talking about).

Still, a loss in quality was a small price to pay, for it is a beautiful world of the Navi-inhabited Pandora that Cameron created, too beautiful to not allow yourself to be sucked in. To thoroughly enjoy the movie you either need to be a tree hugger or truly let go of rationality. And unlike many sci fi flicks out there, the characters that are out of place are the humans. Avatar’s world is rich in history, nature, lore, culture, and even language. It is blatantly apparent that a lot of effort has been put into the realization of the world, yet at the same time you do get the gut feeling that some stuff had to be cut out to fit the movie, like the Lord of the Rings flicks.

Avatar Movie

What’s beautiful about the movie is that it takes everything ordinary and turns it into extraordinary. Lots of rituals, beliefs, animals, plants and landscape exist in reality and are recognizable in the movie, but they’ve been made into truly magical elements.

The overarching story could become preachy at times, and there are many subtexts you can indulge in (terrorism, invasion of other countries, colonialism, the whole mother Earth narrative), however, the face-value story isn’t something that has not been done before, even the tribal wars and the inter-species love stories. What accentuates the typical, however, is the immersive magical world that makes everything endearing and breathtaking. As for the acting – thankfully most of the movie focuses on the animated Navi, which animated beautifully, and the human counterparts do a pretty good job, with Sigourney Weaver throwing in dry humor here and there typical of her Alien experience. Worthington’s Terminator experience helped with the grunt work too.

Avatar Movie

If there’s anything to say to people who are to see it, the movie is about the experience, much like the Matrix and Lord of the Rings when they came out. You can read into the story as deep as you want, but like the previously mentioned movies, it’s the experience that will keep you talking for a long time to come.

Now enjoy the HD trailer!

Movie Review: Transformers 2

It has been a long time since I got so pissed off at a movie. But let me begin the review by highlighting the positive things about it: All the bots still look terrifcly awesome and the explosions are, well, quite a blast so to speak.

Alright, with all that out of the way, let’s see why this movie totally sucked.

First of all, the story. Sure, these kinds of films don’t really need a strong story anyway. It isn’t actually that the story is necessarily bad, but rather how it comes together with the other negative aspects of the film, things really become ridiculous. The film picks up a couple of years after the first one. The Autobots (good guys) are allied secretly with the human race (ie USA only) to hunt down the Deceptions (bad guys). Things go awry of course when the hunter becomes the hunted when Sam (the main teenage hero) is in possession of some shard of the AllSpark, apparently something terribly important to the Deceptions. So everything goes afuss and big explosions happen.

Transformers 2

Snoring yet?

Like I said, the story is sufficient to provide some action, which is what the film should be about. Unfortunately, lots of time is wasted in vain to flesh out the story or give background on certain Autobots/Deceptions that you really wouldn’t care about unless you’ve been avidly watching the cartoons and have memorized each and every bot’s background. Lots of time is also wasted in actual combat scenes. Though they serve the highlight of the flick, lots of the mech fights could have been made shorter, or skipped altogether. It seemed to escape the producers (both of which are good, which comes as a shocker) that most mortals can only handle so much action. It’s even worse when the battles make little sense, as you never know what really is going on until some crucial storyline event triggers in the middle of the fight to wake you up.

How long is the movie? It’s almost 3 hours long. That’s an overdose of long action no one needs.

Bad things don’t end there either. There are many gaps in logic. I completely understand that one should enter such a movie with suspended sense of belief, but there are matters you simply cannot overlook.

First is Orion’s Belt. When our heroes are in the Egyptian deserts, they seek Orion’s Belt to find the location of the artifact. As I recall, Orion’s Belt is somewhat horizontal, yet in the movie they refer to other three stars. I took the liberty to put an infrared filter to make the major stars more pronounced; the three stars encircled in white comprise the Belt, the three stars in green are what the movie tells you is the belt (click for bigger view):


it looks like a man with a penis

The next part is what drove me insane, which is that, according to the movie, the stars point to Petra. It’s as if by magic that they point to Petra, though it could be really any city within that line of sight. I will also overlook the fact that they were probably facing east or west (I don’t recall if it was dusk or dawn), so technically speaking Petra isn’t even an option.

The maddening part is that Petra is in Egypt.

There is no indication that the heroes went to Jordan. In fact, it is told in the story that the artifact is buried here in the deserts of Egypt (which looked a lot like Wadi Rum) and that the stars shall point at the location. Suddenly Petra is in Egypt. The next thing you know, a battle ensues around the Pyramids, and the heroes travel from Petra to Egypt within minutes of course to join in the battle.

Transformers 2

Another odd aspect is that during the course of the battle, the Americans ask the Jordanians for help (the battle is in Egypt). Jordan sends in two choppers which instantly get blown up. The Americans then show power by sending their entire well-equipped fighter jets. There is also no sign of any Egyptian forces.

Speaking of which, why is Egypt depicted in the “traditional Middle Eastern stereotype”? What’s shown of Egypt, other than the ever-present athan, is some run-down ghettos. Sure, it’s the desert part of Giza, but seriously? Now I also have never been to Egypt, but I do know Egyptians do not look like Mexicans (nothing wrong with Mexicans) and that they do speak Arabic, not some jibberish which was actually subtitled to Arabic! And then when an actor says “we are from New York!” the security chief of the borders say “Ah! New York!” and lets them in. There is also a scene with all these posh-car-transformers driving alongside camels. And the slutty heroine suddenly sports a veil while she is running away from a bot (how she magically got the veil is never revealed).

Combine all of that with THE MOST ANNOYING SUPPORTING CAST (both robots and humans) ever seen in a film and you have a major recipe for disaster.

As a final note, for all movie directors, please when you make a battle scene, keep the time of the day consistent. I would understand if a battle begins by noon and ends in the afternoon. But you can’t have one scene at zenith and the other at sunset (for dramatic effect), and go back and forth between them.

I can go on with other issues of course but I guess you don’t need any more convincing that this is a sucky movie.