Thursday, January 17, 2019

Jennifer Garner Returns to Her Roots in 'Peppermint'

Peppermint tells the story of a woman named Riley North whose husband and daughter were killed by cartel gangbangers.  When the corrupt system fails to serve justice, she goes under the radar for five years to develop the skills and plans she needs in order to take justice in her own hands.  In her return, she sets out to wage a one-woman war against the cartel, while the FBI and police try to apprehend her and the sympathetic public cheer her on.

By any standard, it’s honestly a cliché-riddled revenge action thriller film.  But what makes it so special is the fact that it’s headlined by Jennifer Garner.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

' Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween' Is Such a Letdown

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween follows a high school senior named Sarah Quinn (Madison Iseman) who is struggling to write her application essay to Columbia University (which has been the school of many famous writers).  But when her younger brother Sonny (Jeremy Taylor) and his best friend Sam (Caleel Harris) stumble upon an unpublished Goosebumps manuscript and unwittingly unleash the evil Slappy the Dummy on Halloween, Sarah must set aside her writing and help Sonny and Sam stop Slappy from taking over the town.

'The House with a Clock in Its Walls' Could Gain Cult Status Someday

The House with a Clock in Its Walls follows Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro), a recently orphaned ten-year-old boy who is taken in by his eccentric Uncle Jonathan (Jack Black).  Jonathan lives in an old, oddball mansion; and often visiting is his equally eccentric friend, Mrs. Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett), whom he constantly trades banters with.  At night, a “tick tock” noise can be heard coming from somewhere in the house, but its source has never been discovered.  Later, Lewis learns that Uncle Jonathan and Mrs. Zimmerman are actually a warlock and a witch, respectively, very much capable of casting real magic.  Under their guidance, the eager Lewis slowly learns some magic himself.  However, when he disobeys a rule that his uncle has been serious in instructing him about, a magical evil related to the mysterious ticking of the house is unleashed.  And the combined power of Lewis, Uncle Jonathan, and Mrs. Zimmerman may not be enough to stop it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

'Assassination Nation' Is Simultaneously Cluttered and Interesting

In a typical American town called Salem live best friends Lily Colson (Odessa Young), Sarah Lacy (Suki Waterhouse), Bex Warren (Hari Nef), and Em Lacey (Abra), who are your typical American high schoolers defined by promiscuity, parties, and heavy social media use.  When a series of hacker attacks exposes to the world the townspeople’s deepest and darkest secrets, Salem gets plagued by widespread scandals, paranoia, and hostilities.  Soon, the town spirals into madness and mayhem, and the four friends find themselves not just fighting for their dignity, but their lives.

'Mid90s' Is a Charmingly Good Nostalgia Trip

Mid90s is a drama film set in mid-90s (hence, the title) Los Angeles, and tells the story of a 13-year-old boy named Stevie (Sunny Soljic) who spends his summer navigating between his family – his abusive older brother Ian (Lucas Hedges) and their struggling single mother Dabney (Katherine Waterston) – whom he’s becoming distant with, and his newfound skater friends – Ruben (Gio Galicia), Ray (Na-kel Smith), “Fuckshit” (Olan Prenatt), and “Fourth Grade” (Ryder McLaughlin) – whose companionship he’s been reveling in.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively Delight in the Witty, Wacky Mystery Thriller 'A Simple Favor'

A Simple Favor is about a young, widowed single mother named Stephanie Smothers (Anna Kendrick) who spends her days running a cooking vlog and being active in her son’s class activities.  Meanwhile, Emily Nelson (Blake Lively), a stylish PR director for a fashion company with an I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude, has a son that belongs in the same class as Stephanie’s son.  When their sons persistently beg for a playdate, the moms relent, which entails them to hang out.  Soon, the two become best friends, and whenever their sons play, they would drink and gossip.  One day, Emily goes missing, and the worried Stephanie decides to start her own independent investigation.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Top 20 Movies of 2018

I wasn’t able to see every movie I had been meaning to see in 2018.  And some of those unwatched movies – particularly Bohemian Rhapsody, Anna and the Apocalypse, Creed II, and Mirai – would have likely ended up being strong contenders for this list if I had seen them.  Nevertheless, from among those that I did get the chance to watch, here are my twenty most favorite.

Honorable mentions: Upgrade, The Endless, BlacKkKlansman

20.) Ready Player One
“…one of the geekiest movies of all time, and it’s designed to be rewarding to those who have been invested on huge amounts of varied pop culture properties in their lifetime…  It has set itself to be a feast for our inner child to relish, and it triumphantly delivers.”
Click here for the full review.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Top 10 TV Shows of 2018

Since I’ve already made a separate list for anime series, this list is exclusively made up of just shows from the West, both animated and live-action.

I had seen tons of shows in 2018.  By mid-year alone, I had watched twice the amount of shows I usually had by that time of the year (and, at that point, I had not yet seen the majority of the anime shows I had seen in 2018).  Still, I feel that 2018 deserves just a “top 10” list instead of the usual “top 20” – not because there were only ten shows I found worthwhile and enjoyable, but because I want to focus on what I think were the cream of the crop.

10.) The Venture Bros.
To my great pleasure, one of my most favorite animated series of all time had a new season in 2018.  However, I think, it was my least enjoyed season.  It didn’t feel quite as funny, clever, and subversive as before.  I enjoyed all of its ten episodes nevertheless.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Top 10 Anime Shows of 2018

While constructing my list for top 20 TV shows of 2018, I noticed that it was being dominated by anime.  It’s because 2018 was the year in which I had followed the most amount of anime shows as an adult (I also caught up with a couple of old ones), and with 2018 being considered by the consensus as one of the best years of anime – if not the best – it’s only logical why.  Thus, instead of the usual “top 20” list, for 2018, I decided to make a separate “top 10” list for anime series in order to make room for more non-anime (i.e. West-produced) shows to be covered in the “TV shows” list.

Alright.  Let’s jump into it…

10.) Steins;Gate 0
“In a nutshell, the entire series involves waiting for the dispirited Okabe Rintaro to ‘resurrect’ Hououin Kyouma.  It takes most of the episodes to get there, and it can be sometimes chore-like… However, the great anticipation for the endgame and exemplary storytelling amply enable the audience to push through, and once it finally arrives at the eventual return of Hououin Kyouma, it’s such a glorious, spine-tingling, fist-pumping moment that it makes the somewhat tough journey toward it well worth it.”
Click here for the full review.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Re-Ranking the New Anime Shows of Fall 2018 That I've Watched

This is the same thing I did for the summer 2018 anime.  This is my final rankings of the anime shows that I watched from the 2018 fall season – the six I initially checked out, plus two more I picked up along the way.  And just like what I did for the summer 2018 anime re-ranking, this is arranged from my least to most favorite.  However, unlike with the summer season anime, I actually purely enjoyed every single one in this list.  So, without further ado…

Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san
Click here for my full review.

'Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san' Is an Effectively Entertaining Short-Form Anime Series

Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san is, as far as I can remember, the very first short-form anime series (i.e. the length of each episode is just half of a usual anime episode) I’ve ever seen.  I picked it up midway through my fall 2018 anime watching because it was being hyped as an uproarious comedy show, and I was intrigued of its zany premise.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

'Voltron: Legendary Defender' Is Superior to the Original

Seventy-eight episodes distributed across eight seasons in a span of just two and a half years.  Such was the remarkable run of Voltron: Legendary Defender, which ended last December.  It was a show that I got to love, although it wasn’t an instant thing.

Monday, January 07, 2019

'Johnny English Strikes Again' Is Derivative of Its Predecessors

I’m not much a fan of the Johnny English movies.  They were okay, I guess – watchable.  Good enough for a couple of chuckles.  But I never really developed any strong fondness for them.   Hence, Johnny English Strikes Again was a film that I didn’t really seek to watch in 2018.  Still, I decided to watch it eventually for two reasons:
  1. Since I saw the first two installments, watching the third was demanded by the obsessive movie completionist in me.  It’s a curse.
  2. I sincerely believe Rowan Atkinson is a comedy genius.   And even though the Johnny English movies aren’t his finest works, there’s always the chance of seeing some glimpse of his genius in this latest installment.

Friday, January 04, 2019

'Black Mirror: Bandersnatch' Captivates with the Might of Its Novelty

Bandersnatch is the “Christmas special” (technically, it’s not a Christmas special.  But it was released during the Christmas season, so…) in 2018 by the hit science fiction anthology TV series Black Mirror.  It’s an interactive film in which the plot is shaped by the choices made by the viewer for the main character.  It’s not really the first ever production to use such approach, but it’s probably the most complex and extensive at this point.  The default story path, in which the viewer just let the film play out without actively making a choice, runs for 90 minutes (standard feature runtime), but according to sources, the sum of all unique storylines amount to 312 minutes.  There are five main endings, but variations between them bring the total to around 12, according to the creators.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

'Hinamatsuri' Hits Hard with the Humor and Feels

I wasn’t able to watch Hinamatsuri when it originally ran in the second quarter of 2018.  However, I saw a clip of the rock-paper-scissor super-powered battle scene from episode two; after seeing something as hilarious as that, I just had to see the rest of the anime.  So, I took the time to binge it during the Christmas break.  And, man, it was so entertaining, I effortlessly breezed through the 12-episode first season in one sitting.