Durante la tormenta / Mirage (dir. Oriol Paulo, 2019) – Two storms connect a woman’s murder and a child’s vanishing, 25 years apart.
Director Oriol Paulo has produced yet another compelling genre film that delivers in suspense and heart, despite predictable turns.
25 years ago, young Nico (Julio Bohigas-Couto) was killed in a car accident after he witnessed a murder during a storm. Another storm in the preesent day sees Vera (Adriana Ugarte) find a way to reach Nico before his death. She prevents his accident with a warning, only to be swept up in the butterfly effect of the altered events.
Something a small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing can cause a typhoon halfway around the world, or so claims the Chaos Theory. It rings true for Vera. Her perfect life falls apart when she learns that her child Gloria was never born and that she is no longer who she believed herself to be.
Continue reading Movie Review: Mirage / Durante la tormenta (2019)
Alita: Battle Angel (dir. Robert Rodriguez, 2019) – With no memory of her past but a stunning set of combative skills, Alita sets out to unravel the mystery of who she truly is.
Slick visuals and fantastic world-building drive Alita towards her becoming, making the dreary bits worth trudging through.
Neither genres nor audiences can bound Robert Rodriguez. To date, the Desperado director and Splat Pack member has delivered well-loved entertainment in almost every realm of cinema, from the gore galore of Planet Terror, to the family-friendly franchise of Spy Kids.
Alita: Battle Angel thus seems a neat fit for his directorial versatility. Set in a futuristic albeit dystopian future, the manga adaptation aptly treads a delicate line between crowd-pleasing action and almost alienating grimness.
For one, Alita knows nothing her combative skills, made ready for an action-adventure of mass appeal. But her big, shining eyes can be deceptive. Darkness lurks in her history, as well as the post-apocalypse society of the future that has no place for the innocent.
Continue reading Movie Review: Alita – Battle Angel (2019)
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 deep into Charlie Brooker’s engaging mind game. The film yet again flaunts the writer’s 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), the obsessive creator of his choose-your-own-adventure game. His creation 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 with fear, 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).
Continue reading Movie Review: Black Mirror – Bandersnatch (2018)
Ready Player One (dir. Steven Spielberg, 2018) – The creator of virtual reality world OASIS issues his final challenge after his death – to find his Easter Egg that leads to his fortune.
Pop culture gets a stylistic tribute in Spielberg’s return to form with Ready Player One, a triumph in blockbuster fashion.
A faithful adaptation of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One may be comparable to watching paint dry. After all, not many would be thrilled to watch a kid recite every line of Wargames, or play a text adventure ad nauseam in bids to unlock virtual gates. It makes sense then for the film to completely reinvent the novel’s games for the big screen. Who better to helm the director’s job than Steven Spielberg himself?
The de facto virtuoso of cinematic adventures is backed by the original novel’s author Ernest Cline, who works with screenwriter Zak Penn to bring his story to life. The team does well to send main hero Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) on new challenges designed to excite in the visual form. That is even if practical effects take a back seat to a heavy amount of CG-inspired action.
In Spielberg’s hands, the potential desecration is done with little chance of raising hell in the fan community, who will enjoy spotting more than a few cameos. The epic car race at the beginning alone already features vehicular stars Christine and the DeLorean, or more strikingly, the King Kong and the T-Rex of Jurassic Park fame.
Continue reading Movie Review: Ready Player One (2018)
Annihilation (dir. Alex Garland, 2018) – A team of military scientists enter The Shimmer, a quarantined zone where mutations thrive.
Annihilation finds both terror and beauty in the mutation of nature, as it does the same in our innate instinct for self-destruction.
It is in our nature to destroy ourselves. As Annihilation puts it, almost none of us commit suicide, whereas almost all of us self-destruct in some part of our lives. We drink, or take drugs, or destabilize the happy job or happy marriage. For some, vices are due punishment on themselves for reasons of guilt. Others feel alive by simply keeping our lives in motion – even if it is but chaos.
Such self-destructive tendencies occur biologically too. We change, as nature mandates. Human cells divide at a constant, and the natural process of mitosis sees our bodies duplicate new cells to replace damaged ones. We degenerate to heal and deteriorate with age, while cells replicate rapidly – without control – turn cancerous.
Continue reading Movie Review: Annihilation (2018)
The Cloverfield Paradox (dir. Julius Onah, 2018) – During the testing of a device that may solve the Earth’s energy crisis, a space crew ends up facing a dark alternate reality.
While a decent work of entertainment, The Cloverfield Paradox is as much a sequel to Cloverfield as Toy Story is the second parter of Puppet Master. (It isn’t.)
By now, the secret is out. The Cloverfield Paradox has turned out less of a sequel to the monster movie than an ambitious concept riding on the waves of it. It would not be wrong to call this a marketing scam. But on the bright side, the anthology has lent a boost to scripts that would have usually gone under the radar.
After all, the trick had worked once. Two years ago, 10 Cloverfield Lane sprung a pleasant surprise, where John Goodman’s conspiracy theorist abducts a young woman and claims the role of her protector. His ambiguous motives tease his insanity, but also a possible catastrophe beyond the bunker. Could the disaster be connected to the titular monster? The question rouses anticipation for its arrival, which makes the final minutes particularly gratifying.
Similar loose ties should have been expected of The Cloverfield Paradox. If only the Netflix production had not been touted as the answer to how the monsters first arrived on Earth. Setting viewers up for disappointment from the get-go, The Cloverfield Paradox is off to a shaky start.
Continue reading Movie Review: The Cloverfield Paradox (2018)