All posts by Jade

Likes movies, live gigs, bad puns, and Bucky Barnes.

Movie Review: Inception (2010)

Inception
Credit: Warner Bros Pictures / Stephen Vaughan

Inception is Christopher Nolan’s first original screenplay since his debut Following. His latest science fiction venture draws fascination from the elusive concept of entering lucid dreams.

Leonardo Dicaprio plays Dom Cobb, a skilled thief who specialises in extracting secrets from his victims’ subconscious. His new mission sees him trespass into the dreams of Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) to plant notions in the young heir’s head, with help from the best in the espionage business.

This highly original premise allows Nolan to envision a whole new world, bending not only the mind but rules of science. It makes for a highly complex puzzle that may not be easy to grasp, but that very nature is what makes for a compelling watch.

Layers fall upon layers with admirable ease in a tale of both beauty on the surface and underlying ingenuity. What could have easily ended up as a muddle is instead, an impressive display of masterful storytelling.

Director Christopher Nolan executes a complex idea perfectly, balancing blockbuster heist action with an intelligent narrative. Like what Quentin Tarantino once said about himself, Christopher Nolan does not believe that the audience is lower than him.

So he gives us the rare opportunity to delve deep into his wondrous world and engage in the intrigue of its notions. Its sheer magnitude awes, but Inception is more than a yarn of twists. At its core, the story is closer to heart with thematic exploration of guilt, romance, and redemption.

Trapped by past misgivings, Cobb’s reluctance to let go endangers the team’s mission and lives. Dicaprio captures every thread of his inner turmoil. Turning in an equally emotional performance is his mark Robert, whose material fulfilment lacks from a lacking relationship with his father.

The rest of the cast does not lack in staying power despite less prominence. Their strong performances confidently back Nolan’s immense ambition. No doubt many years in the making, Inception is a beautiful dream realised. Diving into the subconscious workings of the human mind has never been as grand as one of his best works to date.

Movie Review: Paranormal Activity (2007)

Paranormal Activity
Credit: Paramount Pictures / Oren Peli

A year ago, I saw the original Paranormal Activity and enjoyed it. Natural acting boded well for a film that depended on its documentary style. While the idea was nothing new, its realism brought across the intended terror. The characters were also considerably well-written, with bits of unpretentious humour to boot.

Drawing parallels to a typical home, the story is enough to deter you from waking for a midnight trip to the bathroom. As a result, the tense suspense felt reasonably believable. It was no Exorcist, of course, but it did surpass the similar cinematography (or rather, the lack of it) in The Blair Witch Project (Sorry, Blair Witch fans).

Upon second watch, Paranormal Activity feels plainer. An angry Bear Jew is possibly much scarier than all 90 minutes of an empty and predictable plot. There is nothing particularly threatening about a trite demon who opens and closes doors for reasons undisclosed. No one really knows what it is doing during the night, with knocking noises unexplained yet again.

Just like every other box office success, a sequel is now in place. The 2 minute trailer shows how much they will be leeching on the success of the previous film, and how unnecessary it will be. Every second is filled with questions: What is going on in the writing room?

Paranormal Activity 2 seems like a poor excuse to use a tiny budget for minimal story-telling efforts, solely leveraging on our irrational fear of horror in real life and deceiving us into placing more hope in a lacklustre ghost tale.

2/5

Series Review: Misfits (2009)

Misfits (by Howard Overman, 2009) – During their community service, a freak storm grants five delinquents odd, dangerous abilities.

Verdict

The Misfits are here saving the superhero genre from banality with wit and humour.

4/5

Review

The superhero trend keeps a-rolling. The novelty of the genre seems to be fading. Popular originals are exhausted. Sequels fall back onto classic comic series for overused heroes and villains alike. Armed with a couple of good ideas, the freshly cancelled Heroes banded a refreshing gang, only to jump the shark early in the game.

Of course, there has been some successful *cough*Batman*cough* exceptions. But some new faces would be great to see. Enter the young Misfits, here to revive the tired genre and break the lasting monotony.

Continue reading Series Review: Misfits (2009)

Movie Review: Prince of Persia (2010)

Prince Of Persia
Credit: Disney Enterprises Inc. / Andrew Cooper

In Prince of Persia‘s opening credits, the name ‘David Belle’ appeared. This District 13 fan with two thumbs got excited for imminent parkour. An abundance of free running did follow to my delight. Sadly, no amount of excitement in plot compared.

The quest of fugitive prince Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an exceptionally dull one – to retrieve a special dagger capable of reversing time. Such a skeletal story suffices for a video game, but barely does for a film. How many would wish they had the dagger, so they can save themselves a good two hours.

Pace is its biggest flaw, in what would otherwise be a great action piece. Fight choreography is not the forefront action I wished it could have been. The essence of free running is lost, as impressive stunt work is made to look like rushed, exaggerated effects.

Due to the uneven pacing issue, characterisation also suffers. Men are lost or absent, sooner than we get to know them. We rush through the simple incident of how Dastan becomes royalty without royal blood, which is hardly believable. Neither do we learn much about the Hassassins, beyond their purpose of being a villainous plot device.

Ultimately forgettable, the temporary fun can still make for good entertainment, though a warning to the casual gamers would be fair – the movie could spoil its end for you.

2/5

Series Review: Supernatural Season 5 (2009)

Supernatural
Credit: CW Television Network

They say the Supernatural fandom is mostly insane, sometimes creepy. They say that the overt obsession have quite regularly frightened both cast and crew. This is all true.

While it sounds unsettling, what it really means for the show is an undying viewership that has kept it going all these years. Such successful ratings are rare for a horror series, and credit is largely due to the charismatic Winchesters who make every second of the ghost-busting journey worthwhile.

It has been years, and the brothers have come far from where their father’s journal pointed to. Facing infinite demons both physical and their own, they have seen hunters kill without blinking and bloodthirsty demons act on good conscience.

The new season had been an equally intriguing one, with Lucifer hounding the brothers for souls and such. The finale slows down with Chuck’s chapter on the Impala, an honorary lead on the show. Endings are never easy and Kripke knows. He reaches straight for the heartstrings (how dare he), and brings us back to where it began – family – as past memories of the Winchesters flash on screen.

Great shows seldom grace the small screens, much less manage to stay off the cancellation danger radar. But Supernatural, like the Winchesters, is resilient and has survived for a good five years. The writing isn’t always the best, but it never fails to entertain, interest and touch the heart. Constant intrigue follows the strong plots that invoke thoughts on questions like how we define morality.

With tears and sacrifice, Swan Song would have been a perfect ending even if the series was never coming back. Though by god, we will miss it. From the endless movie references, hail to Led Zeppelin moments… And how can we forget its amazing catalogue of classic rock from Kansas to Warrant?

Of course, the fans are “always gonna bitch”. Somewhere, some time, we will always be hearing shouts of “Damn it, Kripke!” as the credits roll. But hell, with this satisfying finale, this might just be one of those quieter Thursday nights.

Movie Review: The Descent Part II (2009)

The Descent: Part II
Credit: Lionsgate / Oliver Upton

Sarah Carter (Shauna Macdonald), the sole survivor of a cave expedition accident, is forced to return to the scene of the crime in search of the other missing girls. Only that it was never an accident, even if no one believes her.

The Descent: Part II is a direct sequel that nobody asked for, without the strengths of the previous film. From expository dialogue to weak characterisation, it struggles with typical clichés and falls back on poor imitations of its predecessor.

While first-time director Jon Harris makes clear attempts at an effective atmosphere, there are rarely any real moments of thrills in the slow-moving b-movie. After all, blood for the sake of blood gets old quickly, especially for a horror veteran.

On at least four counts, a crawler predictably jumps from within the dark. Jump scares strung together do not a horror film make, much less those within expectations.

Pacing issues meant the plot barely progresses even if the hour has. Seemingly forced into existence, The Descent sequel suffers the usual problems of part-twos in the genre – lazy plot lines that borders on illogical, and the thorough lack of originality that fails to entertain.

1/5