Aquaman (dir. James Wan, 2018) – To preserve peace between land and sea, Arthur Curry must find the trident that will prove his worth as the King of Atlantis.
The Atlantean King’s first solo outing gets inundated with one too many villains, including a leaden script.
It was never Arthur’s intent to vie for the throne. But he soon finds his hand forced when the next heir in line threatens to wage a dangerous war. Having left his world behind at a young age, the late King’s firstborn son must find a sacred weapon, which will prove his worth to rule a world in disarray.
The to-be King is no heir of Camelot, but borne of the Atlantean Queen and a mortal lighthouse keeper. As the son of star-crossed lovers from two worlds, Arthur Curry (Jason Momoa) knows better than anyone about unity. It takes little convincing for him to get his quest for peace started, as his initial reluctance quickly washes off to make room for explosive underwater action.
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Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (dir. David Slade, 2018) – A young programmer attempts to adapt a fantasy novel into a choose-your-own-adventure video game, but loses control over the choices in his own life.
Bearing the hallmarks of a typical Black Mirror episode, Bandersnatch pulls us into Charlie Brooker’s deeply engaging mind game that yet again flaunts his creative brilliance and dark tendencies.
Named after the creature of the whimsical Wonderland tale, Bandersnatch is itself a monster of a wildly imaginative story. Black Mirror’s first interactive episode has us live and re-live the multiple lives of Stefan Butler (Fionn Whitehead), whose obsessive creation of his choose-your-own-adventure game soon starts to warp his own reality.
“I feel like I’m not guiding [my decisions],” he tries to explain his building disorientation. “Someone else is.”
And every time we choose whether to have him destroy a computer or hit a desk, he looks down at his own hands fearfully as if they do not belong to him. His conviction that he is being controlled brings about a tinge of guilt – that we may just be responsible for recklessly manipulating the fate of a sentient digital being (see: USS Callister, Hang the DJ).
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2018 would be incomplete without a look back on some of the most stellar movies of the year. Blessed be the filmmakers who have produced something brilliant for everyone, be it for the good ol’ cinema or Netflix, the wondrously odd or the charmingly conventional.
At the time of writing, I have not had the pleasure of seeing Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, which I have a feeling that I would enjoy tremendously. Regardless, here goes a quick countdown of what I have seen and liked.
10. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (dir. The Coen Brothers)
Anthologies are often collections of hits and misses, but not The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. The Coen Brothers deftly binds the six distinct chapters on the western front with the consistency of their signature dark humour, topped with a familiar dose of cynicism.
As the pages turn, light absurdity shifts into bleak tragedy and sudden violence, all underscored by Carter Burwell’s stirring score. In what would certainly dismay the optimistic crowd, their tar-tinted lens reveals more about human nature than we wish to admit, drawing in the ones who care to know.
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The Night Comes for Us (dir. Timo Tjahjanto, 2018) – Turning on his mission, Ito falls out of favour with his Triad crime family.
Following in the boisterous footsteps of The Raid, The Night Comes for Us invites controversy in its relentless savagery, which never lessens the evocative weight of familial bonds.
Determined to escape a life of murders on the Triad’s orders, Ito (Joe Taslim) goes on the run after sparing a child’s life. A prolonged bloodbath ensues. Sure enough, horror no longer monopolises gore in film these days. The Night Comes For Us comes at the tail end of a New Indonesian Extreme in the action scene, following the unexpected success of Gareth Evans’ ultra-violent The Raid.
As Evans moves into a more atmospheric and considerably less bloody territory with Apostle, director Timo Tjahjanto comfortably takes his place at the forefront of bone-snapping, throat-slitting, and tendon-slicing brutality. Not that he needed the cue from Evans in the first place.
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Revenge (dir. Coralie Fargeat, 2018) – Left for dead in the desert, a young woman survives her assault and goes on a bloody manhunt for the wealthy businessmen responsible.
Revenge wears a bright warning against strait-laced individuals, who takes offence at jet-black humour and a generous amount of violence.
A good horror movie does not necessitate blood, but a gallon of the deep red sure is a hell lot of fun. In its retread of vile rape-revenge fantasy I Spit On Your Grave, Revenge puts forward a final girl who shares both an insatiable thirst for retribution and a name with the notorious anti-heroine.
Things are set in motion when Richard (Kevin Janssens) attempts to silence his mistress, whom his hunting partners had sexually assaulted. Jen (Matilda Lutz) tries to escape, but ends up brutally impaled through her gut at the bottom of a cliff.
Unlike its inspiration, the transgressive genre entry takes itself less seriously thereafter. What follows takes on a sheath of dark humour, and unleashes an early test of whether one is to enjoy the rest of the vengeful minutes.
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