Tuesday, August 22, 2017

'What Happened to Monday' Is Unable to Do Something Great with Seven Noomi Rapaces

What Happened to Monday is a dystopian science fiction thriller film set in a not-so-distant future where scientists have genetically engineered high yield crops in order to combat the severe food shortage happening around the world due to overpopulation and climate change.   However, the genetic tinkering done on crops have resulted to increased fertility, as twins and more are birthed at a staggering rate, putting further strain on the overpopulation problem.  To address this, politician Nicolette Cayman (Glenn Close) prompts the passing of the Child Allocation Act, which only allows one child per couple.  A cold-hearted organization called the Child Allocation Bureau (CAB) is created to enforce this.

The focus of the story is on identical septuplets (all played by Noomi Rapace) who have been raised and trained by their grandfather (Willem Dafoe) to live a life sharing one identity: Karen Settman – based on their late mother’s name.  The sisters are named after the days of the week, and they take turns going out to the world as Karen Settman based on what day it is – Sunday on Sundays, Monday on Mondays, Tuesday on Tuesdays, and so on.  They have managed to successfully maintain this fa├žade for many years.  Until one day, their existence is thrown into shambles when Monday fails to get home from work.

Monday, August 21, 2017

'The Defenders' Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts

The Defenders season one is the culmination of the arcs from Daredevil season one and season two, Jessica Jones season one, Luke Cage season one, and Iron Fist season one.  It is the banding of the heroes of those shows – Matt Murdock a.k.a. Daredevil (Charlie Cox), Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter), Luke Cage (Mike Colter), and Danny Rand a.k.a. Iron Fist (Finn Jones) – as they take on the Hand, whose endgame is threatening New York.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

In 'Dave Made a Maze', a Guy Gets Lost in the Cardboard Labyrinth He Built and His Friends Have to Rescue Him

Dave Made a Maze centers on the eponymous Dave (Nick Thune), who has the habit of eagerly staring out projects but never gets around of finishing them.  One day, he finally starts building something in the middle of his living room which he wants to see through till the end – a labyrinth made of cardboard.  Unfortunately, he finds himself getting lost inside it before it’s done.  Dave gets stuck in it for days, while his girlfriend (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) and friends (Adam Busch, James Urbaniak, etc.) initially think it’s ridiculous that he can’t find his way out.  But when they proceed to enter the cardboard maze to fish him out – in spite of Dave telling them that they shouldn’t – they discover to their astonishment that it’s much more spacious and complex in the inside.  More than that, it actually has booby traps and living creatures inside – even a Minotaur!  Now, Dave and friends have to figure out of way of escaping it before they get trapped in it forever or the Minotaur gets to them.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

'Batman and Harley Quinn' Is Batty

Animated in the same style as Batman: The Animated Series.  Helmed by Sam Liu, the director behind some of the best superhero animated films ever made, like All-Star Superman, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Hulk Vs., Justice League: Gods and Monsters, and the recent Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.  Bruce Timm, mastermind of the beloved “Timmverse”, doing the story.  Legendary Batman voice actor Kevin Conroy returning to his iconic role.  As well as Loren Lester as Nightwing.  And the adorable Melissa Rauch voicing Harley Quinn – which is seemingly perfect, especially if you’re familiar with her work as Bernadette in The Big Bang Theory.

These are the cool elements at play in the latest DC Universe Animated Original Movie Batman and Harley Quinn.  Thus, on paper, it has the potential of being great.  Unfortunately, it’s not.  Oh, it’s entertaining, I’ll give it that.  But it isn’t the even, delightful, well-crafted animated film I thought it could be.  In fact, I understand if others would think of it as a bad movie.

The Rock and Zac Efron Keep 'Baywatch' Afloat... Barely

Baywatch is an action comedy movie reimagination of the hit 90’s TV series of the same name.  It follows the much beloved, over-competent, super hero-esque Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson); the down-on-his-luck but self-important, former Olympic gold medallist, rookie Matt Brody (Zac Efron); and the rest of Baywatch, an elite squad of lifeguards, as they take on a voluptuous crime lord (Priyanka Chopra) that has recently started a drug-dealing operation in the area.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Top 10 Moments in 'Orphan Black'

Orphan Black, a show that I really got to love, just ended after five seasons.  I already offered my final thoughts on it.  But, as a way of further paying tribute to such a great show, let me enumerate my most favorite moments.

In Helena’s own words during the finale, “my sestra Sarah… stepped of a train one day and met herself.”

'The Case for Christ' Makes a Case for Christian Films

The Case for Christ is a biopic of pastor and author Lee Strobel, revolving around the events that led him to write the book of the same name.  Set in 1980, when he was an award-winning journalist and still an atheist, the film follows Lee (Mike Vogel), frustrated that his wife Leslie (Erika Christensen) has turned to Christianity, conducting an investigation to discredit the religion.  Per the recommendation of a colleague, he delves into the resurrection of Jesus Christ, since it’s supposed to be the fundamental tenet that Christianity is build upon.  If he can prove that it didn’t happen, then “the whole house of cards falls.”  He hopes that by accomplishing this, he will be able to dissuade his wife from continuing with her folly and fix their marriage.  But Leslie’s faith only grows stronger over time, and Lee’s abhorrence for it, coupled with his drinking, only puts more strain in their marriage.  On top of this, Lee is also challenged by a complicated cop-shooting story that he’s been assigned to cover.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

'Orphan Black' Was Basically About Being a Family and Tatiana Maslany's Awesomeness

Three years ago, I fell in love with this show about a troubled, unruly young woman named Sarah Manning who witnesses the suicide of police detective Beth Childs, who to her shock is a perfect doppelganger of hers.  This opens the door for her to discover the truth of her real identity: she’s a clone and there are countless others like her around the world.  She gets to meet some of them, and, together, along with their friends and families, they assemble the “Clone Club”, with the intent of solving the many puzzles of their remarkable nature and protecting themselves from the various foes that threaten them.

It has recently aired its last episode, indicating that the story of my beloved Clone Club has come to an end.  It was a solid finale as far as finales go.  It wrapped up the series generally well.  It brought a strong resolution to the conflict and provided ample time for a heartfelt denouement.  In addition, it finally gave the definite reason – and a funny one at that – why it’s titled “Orphan Black.”

Sunday, August 13, 2017

'Headshot' Is Another Intense, Enthralling Indonesian Martial Arts Film

In Headshot, Iko Uwais, the star of The Raid movies, plays a mysterious man that is washed ashore a rural Indonesian island.  After being in coma for two months, he wakes up with no memory of his identity.  He adopts the name “Ishmael” and becomes friends with the doctor that took care of him, Ailin (Chelsea Islan), and the local fisherman that found him, Romli (Yaya Unru).  But soon, his past catches up with him, as the syndicate he used to be connected with – led by the cruel crime lord Lee (Sunny Pang) – have come looking for him, leaving carnage in their wake.  This leads to the abduction of Ailin and the death of Romli.  Now, Ishmael has to go war against former comrades in order to rescue Ailin and stop Lee’s evil once and for all.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Glad to See Hyun Bin On-Screen Again in 'Confidential Assignment'

Confidential Assignment is about a North Korean investigator named Im Cheol-ryung (Hyun Bin) who is sent to look into a disturbance happening in a warehouse that prints counterfeit money.  Disobeying the order to stand by, he leads his team into it, where they encounter a group of rogue soldiers stealing the operation’s master plates.   However, to his shock, he discovers that his superior Cha Ki-seong (Kim Joo-hyuk) is the mastermind of the heist.  The confrontation between the two groups results to the death of his team, including the woman he loves, and Ki-sheong absconding with the plates to Seoul, South Korea.  Cheol-ryung is then given the assignment of capturing Ki-sheong and retrieving the plates.  But he needs to do this within three days and while a South Korean detective named Kang Jin-tae (Yoo Hae-jin) is watching over him.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

'Fairy Tail' Concludes with a Happily Ever After

Recently, Fairy Tail has wrapped up its run, accomplishing 545 chapters in 11 years.  Ever since I’ve been made aware of this manga, I’ve followed it closely.  In fact, I’ve read all of its chapters.  So you can say that I’m a fan.  However, I won’t necessarily be missing it.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

How to Improve Christian Movies

I’ve already previously discussed my problem with Christian movies, and why I think the focus of the Christian filmmaking paradigm should shift from making Christian movies to making great movies.  For magnetic acting, brilliant direction, inspired scripts, engrossing storytelling, gorgeous cinematography, moving sound design, and exquisite production value can prove to be more impactful foretastes of the richness of the Gospel than a direct but diluted delivery of it, something most Christian movies are guilty of.  As a follow up on that, I intend to convey in this essay a thought, a suggestion, on how Christian movies can be bettered.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

John Cena Adds a Solid War Psychological Thriller in 'The Wall' to His Filmography

The Wall is a war psychological thriller that follows two U.S. Army soldiers – a sniper (John Cena) and his spotter (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) – who are sent to investigate a pipeline construction site located in the Iraqi desert.  After spending 22 hours on overwatch, they deem the area clear and proceed to leave their hidden position.  However, this proves to be a grave miscalculation when an enemy sniper named Juba (voiced by Laith Nakli) attacks them.  The sniper, Staff Sergeant Shane Matthews, is critically shot down in the open, while the spotter, Sergeant Allen Isaac, is wounded but gets behind the cover of a crumbling wall.  Communicating through radio, Juba engages in psychological warfare with Isaac, as the latter desperately searches for the former’s location while enduring the extreme discomfort of his situation.

'It Stains the Sands Red' Is Mediocre, but It Does Put a Ridiculous but Interesting Spin on the Genre

As a zombie film, It Stains the Sands Red opts for a minimalist premise: after the onset of a zombie apocalypse, a Las Vegas party girl (Brittany Allen) has to travel through the desert while a lone zombie pursues her.  And, oh, “it stains the sands red” doesn’t necessarily mean what it’s expected to mean.  Coming into the movie, you will never guess what “it” is.

Friday, August 04, 2017

'Ordinary Person' Is a Powerful Crime Drama

Ordinary Person is a South Korean crime drama film set in 1987 about a dedicated policeman named Kang Sung-jin (Son Hyun-joo), whose biggest dream is to improve the standard of living of his mute wife and lame son.  During his latest case, which involves catching a slithery hoodlum, he arrests an imbecile named Kim Tae-sang (Jo Dal-hwan) who confesses to a murder after spending some time in custody.  Soon, Sung-jin is summoned by the ruthless, scheming National Security Planning chief Cho Gyu-nam (Jang Hyuk).  Using Sung-jin’s sense of patriotism as well as the temptation of material favors, Gyu-nam tasks the policeman to build a serial murder case against his suspect.  Sung-jin’s journalist friend Chu Jae-jin (Kim Sang-ho), who is investigating the government’s corruption, thinks there’s something off with the case and urges Sung-jin to drop it.  However, Sung-jin is unable to do so as he’s already in too deep with Gyu-nam’s conspiracy, especially since he needs the money for his son’s operation.