Sherlock Gnomes (2018): The Sequel has (again) Lost the Magic

Directed by: John Stevenson | Produced by: David Furnish, Steve Hamilton Show | Screenplay by: Ben Zazove, Kevin Cecil, Andy Riley | Starring: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Maggie Smith, Michael Caine, Mary J. Blige | Music by: Chris Bacon | Edited by: Prakash Patel, Mark Solomon | Production Company: Paramount Animation, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Rocket Pictures | Distributed by: Paramount Pictures | Official Website


Do you remember the first Gnomeo and Juliet that was released on 2011? I don’t really. For an animation, Gnomeo and Juliet is not very much captivating me. All I can pretty much remember is that animation was a children version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, now in the form of garden gnomes, still told about the feud between the so-called Capulets and Montagues, the couple were singing Elton John’s, and they had a happy ending. Oh, and the Shakespeare gnome is voiced by Patrick Stewart (how could I forget Patrick Stewart?).

Seven years later, the sequel is released. Still takes on British classics, now the garden gnomes take inspiration from Arthur Conan Doyle’s most beloving detective, Sherlock Holmes and his companion dr. John Watson. It seems that once upon a time they still think about what British classic literature that can be adapted, as well as rhyme with “gnomes”, and then Sherlock Gnomes (nee. Holmes, LOL) comes to mind. They also think of who should voice this cocky, deductive yet eccentric detective, and no one could be better than Johnny Depp. As his long-term companion dr. John Watson is voiced by Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Our loving couple from the prequel, Gnomeo and Juliet (still voiced by James McAvoy and Emily Blunt, respectively), are now married and inherited the garden from their parents, Lord Redbrick (Michael Caine) and Lady Bluebury (Maggie Smith). One day, all the garden gnomes in London are missing from their gardens. Called himself “protector of all garden gnomes”, Sherlock Gnomes and Watson team up with Gnomeo and Juliet to save all gnomes from Sherlock’s long-term arch-nemesis, Professor James Moriarty (Jamie Demetriou), who is now taking form of a rhubarb pie.

So then it is a classic battle of wits between Sherlock (and Watson, of course) and Moriarty, with an addition of Sherlock’s love interest Irene Adler (Mary J. Blige), who’s now a ball-jointed fashionista doll. There are some clear references to Conan Doyle’s cases like a terrier which Sherlock recalls as “The Hound of Baskerville” and when Sherlock and Moriarty fight to death as in “The Adventure of Final Problem“. The name of “Conan Doyle” also appears in one scene. There were also some clever black-and-white scenes that show us what goes on during Sherlock’s brilliant deduction. However, Sherlock Gnomes doesn’t incorporate all the thrill and fun from Conan Doyle’s fictional famous detective. The movie also lost the fun and strong message that should be emphasized on a children movie. There were some funny moments, but it’s not enough to save the whole movie from sinking.

In addition, Sherlock Gnomes isn’t Sherlock Holmes at all. We all know that Holmes respects Watson as his (maybe only) friend, but this gnome version of him treats Watson like his servant. He’s also arrogant and irritating to be watched, and Depp seems like he lost his magical touch of how to portray an eccentric character. James McAvoy and Emily Blunt reprise their role as Gnomeo and Juliet, respectively, but they also lost the sparling chemistry as a couple. Don’t forget to mention Jamie Demetriou’s rhubarb Moriarty. He seems to be more pathetic than any other villain in children movie.

The movie is a definite boredom, but it maybe because you watch this with the eye of an adult. Maybe you should watch this with the eye of children. However, don’t forget to sit with your children when you watch this movie. Some scenes might not suitable for children.


Pacific Rim Uprising (2018): Oh I Don’t Care about the Plot, as Long as There’s Robot Fighting

Directed by: Steven S. DeKnight | Produced by: John Boyega, Cale Boyter, Guillermo del Toro, Jon Jashni, Femi Oguns, Mary Parent, Thomas Tull | Screenplay by: Emily Carmichael, Kira Snyder, Steven S. DeKnight, T.S. Nowlin | Starring: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, Jing Tian, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman | Music by: Lorne Balfe | Cinematography: Dan Mindel | Edited by: Dylan Highsmith, Zach Staenberg | Production Company: Legendary Pictures, UpperRoom Entertainment Ltd., DDY | Distributed by: Universal Pictures | Official Website


If you love the 2013 Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim, and somehow have interest in Michael Bay-esque robot fighting, then yes, Pacific Rim Uprising might be good for you. This sequel has lots of robot fighting each other, robot fighting Godzilla-like monster, and robot fighting Godzilla-turn-Robot. However, it lost the fun of the previous installment.

Pacific Rim Uprising takes place ten years after Battle of the Breach, from the end of the prequel. Now that the breach is closed, the mega giant robot controlled by two psychically connected pilots called the Jaeger program is on hiatus. The main protagonist here is Jake Pentacost (John Boyega), estranged son of the fallen hero Stacker Pentacost (Idris Elba, too precious if not included as cameo in flashback) and younger brother of Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), now General Secretary of Pan Pacific Defense Corp (PPDC). Right from the very start, Jake states, “I am not my father,” differs himself from his popular, heroic and inspirational father. Jake is more flamboyant, rebellious when it comes to become a PPID ranger.

Jake is recruited to Jaeger program to mentor all the younger cadets, including his new recruit, the young Amara Namani (Cailee Spaeny). On PPDC, Jake once again teams up with his colleague Nate Lambert (Scott Eastwood) and PPDC tech savvy Dr. Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman). PPDC is now in collaboration with Chinese giant tech corporation, Shao Corp., led by Shao Liwen (Jing Tian), tries to operate the new model of Jaeger that controls by drone and indirectly eliminates the need of pilots. Unknown to them, Shao’s lead R&D team who’s previously worked for PPDC, Dr. Newton Geizler (Charlie Day), has planned something to bring back the Godzilla-like ocean monster Kaiju to create an apocalypse.

The theme of giant robots fighting ocean monsters has been the general theme of Pacific Rim. However, Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 version is more fun since it gives us feelings of ordinary human behind the Jaeger control. It shows us the fatherly love of Elba’s Stacker Pentacost to Kikuchi’s Mako Mori, and romantic entanglement between Mako Mori and her co-pilot Charlie Hunnam’s Raleigh Becket (who is now unknown and mentioned just once in Pacific Rim Uprising). This sequel, however, lost the magic touch of feelings.

DeKnight seems to think that feelings are no longer compatible as long as there are robots fighting another giant beings. He forgets that there are still humans behind Jaeger’s control panel, and the interaction is somehow needed to build the whole plot of the movie. The lost of Mako Mori should be more sentimental for Jake since she is the only family he had left, but there is no proper scene to show this. The lost of Mako also should give Jake a wise reason to care more about his new disciple Amara Namani. At the end, the story becomes too messy to be enjoyed and it feels like it insulted our intelligence by giving us such a heavy CGI movie with unstructured plot and a messy dialogue.

The only upgrade of this sequel is John Boyega’s shining Jake Pentacost compared to Charlie Hunnam’s dull Raleigh Becket in the prequel. Within his charisma and his straight-from-London accent, Boyega carries all the emotion of this movie by himself. As the producer himself, Boyega knows exactly how to make a proper introduction of hos character and how to create a camera angle to his face, although his dialogue is so dull that it can dim his own shine. Boyega is supported by the shine of the 19 years-old but look too much younger Cailee Spaeny. Spaeny steals almost every scene she’s in, and her tiny figure shows us some hope between all the dull scenes of this movie. We don’t need to talk about Scott Eastwood, who looks exactly like his father Clint and I almost imagine him doing Wild Wild West scene within his Jaeger suit.

So if you are obsessed with MichaelBay-esque robot fighting without need to think too much about what is actually happening in the movie, this movie would excite you a lot. Otherwise, just wait for the DVD release, or imagine that your Gundam is fighting Kaiju right now.

A Wrinkle in Time (2018): Maybe We Should Let It Be on Book

Directed by: Ava DuVernay | Produced by: Jim Whitaker, Catherine Hand | Screenplay by: Jennifer Lee, Jeff Stockwell | Starring: Storm Reid, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Deric McCabe, Levi Miller, Chris Pine, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Peña | Music by: Ramin Djawadi | Cinematography: Tobias A. Schliessler | Edited by: Spencer Averick | Production Companies: Walt Disney Pictures, Whitaker Entertainment | Distributed by: Walt Disney Studios, Motion Pictures | Official Website


When I first know the adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s book A Wrinkle in Time, and it would be a Disney production, I am quite excited. A Wrinkle of Time‘s Meg Murry is probably the earliest young adult heroine that fights against villainous being. There are some young adult heroines after, talking about Hermione Granger in 1997 and Katniss Everdeen in 2001, but the release of A Wrinkle in Time in 1962 makes Murry becomes our first young adult heroine to be dated. I become more excited when Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon and Mindy Kaling join the casts. Does the movie finally turn into full excitement? Sadly, no.

Our young adult heroine, 13 years-old Meg Murry is played by Storm Reid. Meg Murry’s father, Alex (Chris Pine), found a nearly impossible idea of time wrinkling that would make space travel easier, and the method is called Tesseract (not that glowing square Loki stole in The Avengers). Alex then tried to tesser into another planet and somehow lost in nobody-knows-where, left his family: also-scientist wife Kate (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), Meg and his adopted brother Charles Wallace (Deric McCabe) on earth, wondering about his whereabouts. Four years after his disappearance, Meg has turned into a depressed young girl who is depressed enough so she let her mean-girl friend Veronica bullied her.

One stormy night, their home is visited by a celestial being, the supposedly-charming Mrs. Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon). Mrs. Whatsit explains that she knows about Alex’s location now and his Tesseract theory. The next day, Meg and Charles Wallace, along with Meg’s friend who has crush on her Calvin (Levi Miller), meet the other celestial being called Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling). Mrs. Who is basically Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations comes to life, speaks in quotes of Buddha to Shakespeare and Lin Manuel Miranda. As soon as they meet the last of three missus, Mrs. Which (played by literally larger than life Oprah Winfrey), they soon know that Alex is alive, somewhere, waiting to be found. They tesser to some other planets, from the beautiful Uriel that reminds me of the hill in The Sound of Music to the place of the Happy Medium (Zach Galifianakis), to find clue about Alex’s whereabouts. When the clue leads them to Camazotz, the planet of darkness where our main villain being It lives, they know that the searching mission has turned into rescue.

While the idea of adapting A Wrinkle in Time is amusing, yet worrying, this Ava DuVernay’s version turns into some kind of disaster. The whole movie is trapped within CGIs that do nothing to the story development while the movie maker maybe thinks that CGI is the answer to everything. The CGI is mesmerizing, along with Ramin Djawadi’s music, but the story left drained and undeveloped. The story is tired, boring, pointless and clearly missed the excitement of a children movie. A children movie should have the exciting feeling and strong implicit-but-clear message in their whole story, without having to be told by the characters. This A Wrinkle in Time, however, lost both of it.

The casts give no justice to the story development. Best casts maybe Chris Pine and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as the beautiful scientist couple, but the rest is pathetically failed to do their tasks. Storm Reid is beautiful, but when it comes to the Meg Murry, she is left confused, doubtful and ends up being as stiff as a wooden doll. Deric McCabe do a better job as his lively and smart brother Charles Wallace, but when he has to turn his character upside down at the end of the movie, he becomes pointless yet obnoxious. The three whatevers, are failed to represent the celestial mentors for our young heroine. Oprah’s Mrs. Which, with her glittering lips and shining armor, is sunken into Oprah’s larger-than-life persona. Kaling’s Mrs. Who, with her vibrant dress, is almost pointless to be there. Finally, the supposedly cheerful Witherspoon vacillates from being Glinda the Good Witch’s more cheerful version or being Sheldon Cooper’s cynical states.

The movie is for everyone but please advise your children while watching it. Some terms are maybe to difficult to be digested by children. My advice for watching this: watch with your children’s eyes.

Game Night (2018): Too Much Plot Twists will Kill You

Directed by: John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldstein | Produced by: John Davis, Jason Bateman, John Fox, James Garavente | Written by: Mark Perez | Starring: Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Billy Magnussen, Kyle Chandler, Sharon Horgan, Jesse Plemons, Michael C. Hall | Music by: Cliff Martinez | Cinematography: Barry Paterson | Edited by: Jamie Gross, Gregory Plotkin, David Egan | Production Companies: Davis Entertainment, Aggregate Films, New Line Cinema | Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures | Official Website


Sometimes, mixing action scenes full with car chases, multiple gunshot, raids into villain’s mansion, panicking good guys, gunshot-wound-surgery with good comedy doesn’t work. The movie has to choose either it wants to be an actiom movie or just become a comedy movie. This time, it works.

Game Night introduces us to a lovely middle-class couple, Max (Jason Bateman) and Annie (Rachel McAdams), who met on a trivia night where both are team captain, and seemingly very competitive in gaming that they held a Dance Dance Revolution competition on their wedding reception. Max and Annie also love to invite their friends, another married couple Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and Michelle (Kylie Bunbury), and a single handsome dum-dum Ryan (Billy Magnussen) who brings different girls on every single game night as his date. Max and Annie also have an awkward neighbor, Gary (Jesse Plemons), whose awkwardness makes him never get invited to the game night.

As well as Max and Annie’s effort to conceive a baby, their gynecologist states that Max’ stress might have effects. Max’ stress level is getting higher as his “better version” brother Brooks (Kyle Chandler) is coming to town. Brooks then invites the couple, as well as their friends and Sarah (Sharon Horgan), Ryan’s Irish date, to his house and plot a game to remember: he will be abducted, for game reason of course, and whoever saves him will get his convertible car as a present. The game turns into a disaster after Brooks is kidnapped by the real kidnappers, and his masquerade as a successful billionaire faltered as the movie continues.

This is a movie where the directors, Daley and Goldstein, and screenwriter Perez have a clear vision of what movie they are going to make. Daley and Goldstein know that they are going to make a comedy, but they also know that tensions are still needed, but not in a truly chaotic theme. So they created a proper chaos, which isn’t chaotic enough, that escalated towards one cause and the effect it brings. The characters still make goofy decisions that keeps the movie on the rail of comedy. Their vision is completed by screenwriter Perez, who clearly knows how to mix pop culture references and jokes in the very right amount. However, the movie seems to love trivia so much that it almost ruins its smart writing with too many plot twists. One plot twists revealing leads to another, and we can’t even differ which one is the real plot. If you love plot twists, you might find this amusing.

The clear vision of the directors and smart writings by the screenwriters are supported by the smart choice of actors. Bateman brings a character who anchors the whole movie with his calm expression while dealing with erupting chaos. McAdams, as his counterpart, is really having fun in this movie. Her role as a cheerful yoga instructor has developed the charm of her on-screen relationship with Bateman. Billy Magnussen’s Ryan and Sharon Horgan’s Sarah is another couple who bring out the comic personas in them. The most important thing is the screenwriting gives every couple a personal problem to deal with, makes this movie a more believable comedy.

Game Night is a smart movie you can enjoy within its dumbness, and it’s filled with surprises, both in fake cameo appearances and its plot twists. Noted that this movie is rated PG13 in Indonesia so please do not bring your young children watching this.

Sekala Niskala (2017): Memaknai Kehilangan Seindah Puisi

Directed by: Kamila Andini | Screenplay by: Kamila Andini | Starring: Ayu Laksmi, Ida Bagus Putu Radithya Mahijasena, Ni Kadek Thaly Titi Kasih, Happy Salma | Music by: Yasuhiro Morinaga | Produced by: Kamila Andini, Gita Fara, Ifa Isfandiansyah | Production Companies: Fourcolours Films, Treewater Production


Dari judulnya saja, Sekala Niskala sudah memberikan kesan puitis yang luar biasa. Istilah Sekala Niskala sebenarnya lebih mudah ditafsirkan lewat versi judul bahasa Inggrisnya, The Seen and The Unseen, yang terlihat dan yang kasat mata. Sekala Niskala berusaha memaknai bahwa dunia kita yang nyata hidup berdampingan dengan dunia kasat mata yang memang ada, baik yang Anda pahami lewat kitab suci maupun yang pernah Anda alami dan rasakan sendiri. Tema film ini tak jauh dari pemahaman istilah tersebut, meski sutradara Kamila Andini berusaha mengisahkannya lewat paradigma anak-anak.

Sebelum dirilis di bioskop komersial pada 8 Maret 2018, Sekala Niskala sudah wara-wiri di beberapa festival internasional, antara lain Busan International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival dan mendapatkan penghargaan Golden Hanoman pada Jogja-NETPAC. Asian Film Festival. Penghargaan ini melengkapi lima nominasi di Festival Film Tempo 2017, Grand Prize di Tokyo-FILMEX International Film Festival dan penghargaan Best Youth Feature Film di Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

Dengan tema dua dunia yang bersisian tersebut, Sekala Niskala menceritakan kehidupan dua anak kembar buncing (laki-laki dan perempuan) berusia 10 tahun: Tantra (Ida Bagus Putu Radithya Mahijasena) dan Tantri (Ni Kadek Thaly Titi Kasih). Kembar buncing seringkali dianggap aib bagi masyarakat Bali kuno, dan keluarga yang memiliki bayi kembar buncing konon harus diasingkan. Hanya kalangan bangsawan yang boleh memiliki bayi kembar buncing, karena dianggap sebagai pembawa keseimbangan. Film ini, justru menganggap kembar Tantra dan Tantri sebagai keseimbangan, dan dari sinilah konflik dimulai.

Tantra terkena penyakit yang menggerogoti kemampuan otaknya sehingga ia mulai kehilangan kemampuan motoriknya. Tantri yang merasa kesepian karena Tantra dirawat di Rumah Sakit, menerima kehilangannya dengan setegar mungkin. Tantri meneruskan ikatan kedekatannya dengan saudara kembarnya melalui seni, dari mulai musik, bercocok tanam, wayang, hingga membuatkannya kostum burung untuk menari. Di usia semuda itu, Tantri memutuskan menerima kehilangan atas Tantra dalam kesendirian.

Film ini didominasi dialog bahasa Bali, dan adat Bali juga tampak dominan. Kemampuan Tantri dan ibunya yang diperankan Ayu Laksmi (ibu dalam Pengabdi Setan (2017)) berdendang folksong Bali sangat menawan sekaligus mengiris hati. Kepedihan atas kehilangan anggota keluarga dilukiskan dalam gaya dan bahasa sesederhana mungkin, tetapi maknanya tetap bisa sampai ke penonton. Film ini tidak mengumbar jeritan histeris dan airmata seperti layaknya sinetron kebanyakan, tetapi kehilangan dan konflik di sekitarnya terasa menyengat, menyayat perlahan dan menimbulkan perasaan tidak nyaman sepanjang film.

Duet pelakon cilik Ida Bagus Putu Radithya Mahijasena dan Ni Kadek Thaly Titi Kasih sukses mengendalikan keseluruhan emosi film ini. Keduanya minim dialog, kedekatannya dilukiskan lewat gestur dan interaksi mereka dalam diam. Namun disitulah letak keunikan film ini. Chemistry Radithya dan Thaly nampak jelas seperti saudara yang takut kehilangan satu sama lain. Chemistry merekalah yang membuat film ini terasa magis dan puitis, sekaligus membikin merinding sepanjang film.

Film bagus memang terkadang sulit dimengerti, tetapi film sejenis Sekala Niskala bukan hanya untuk dimengerti, tetapi juga dirasakan. Bawa hati Anda saat menonton film ini, posisikan diri Anda sebagai Tantri dan rasakan bagaimana ia menelan ketakutannya dan menerima kehilangan saudaranya sendiri.

Tomb Raider (2018): This is How They Should Adapt Video Games. No Sh*t.

Directed by: Roar Uthaug | Produced by: Gary Barber, Graham King | Written by: Geneva Robertson-Dowret, Alastair Siddon | Story by: Evan Daugherty, Geneva Robertson-Dowret | Starring: Alicia Vikander, Daniel Wu, Dominic West, Walton Goggins, Kristin Scott-Thomas | Music by: Junkie XL | Cinematography: George Richmond | Edited by: Stuart Baird, Tom Harrison-Read | Production Companies: Metro Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner Bros. Pictures, GK Films | Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures| Official Website


15 years after the last Tomb Raider series, the reboot movie on Crystal Dynamics video game is released. This time, Alicia Vikander lands on the role of Lara Croft, takes on the jacket from the iconic past cast, Angelina Jolie. If you were grown up watching Miss Jolie as Lara Croft as super female archaeologist who can do the impossible leap like superheroes, Vikander takes a more realistic approach and makes Lara becomes more vulnerable, and humanly.

This reboot is literally rebooting Lara Croft’s background right after she is left by her own father Lord Richard Croft (Dominic West). Lord Richard is a rich man who owns a holding company under his name, but chooses to pursue his passion as an archaeologist. Rich man is always an extraordinary one, right? On his last adventure, Richard leaves teenage Lara (Emily Carey) to reveal the secret beyond Empress Himiko’s tomb. Empress Himiko is said to be the queen of death, who can spread death just by the touch of her hand.

Adult Lara (Alicia Vikander), refuses to claim her inheritance since she thought that claim would be an agreement to her father’s death. To survive, she lives as a bike-delivery girl. After an accident, she is pursued by her father’s employee Ana Miller (Kristin Scott-Thomas). She again refuses to claim her inheritance and decides to follow the trails of her father’s whereabouts. Along with Hong Kong’s drunken sailor Lu Ren (Daniel Wu), she goes to the Japanese deserted island of Yamatai, where her father believes to become the location of Empress Himiko’s tomb. Not only to find Himiko, Lara is now facing the order of Trinity who wants to use Himiko’s power to rule over the world.

This movie is a good example on how you should make a movie based on a popular video games. The action scenes look like they were chopped directly from the video games into the big screen, but our heroine still looks like an ordinary human. Vikander’s Lara Croft can be hurt, can bleed, and most of all, misses her father so much. She is well-trained and well-built, although she doesn’t have Jolie’s impossible super leaping. The first half of the movie is totally drama and a bit dragging, but it sets out the whole complete background on Lara’s reasoning why she has to follow her father’s trail to find the tomb of Empress Himiko. The last half of the movie tells us how Lara is a mature young woman who is hard-headed, determined and well-motivated to take down the order of Trinity for the world’s good.

With the star-studded British casts, Alicia Vikander answered the doubt of the fans on how she will take over the role from the iconic Jolie on the previous versions. Within her small figure and her unbelievably strong abs, Vikander shows us the action that you might not see on Jolie’s version, with the ability of common people. The whole movie is intended to introduce us to the new Lara, which Vikander did it well. However, the whole attention went really for Vikander’s Lara, so the other charactera seem got little to none developments on their characters. Dominic West and Kristin Scott-Thomas did good, but the severely damaged in term of character development is being Daniel Wu’s Lu Ren. With Wu’s charisma, Lu Ren should be a very potential sidekick to Vikander’s Lara, but they give Wu very little screentime to develop his character.

This is the nicer version of Tomb Raider movie. It might not be impossible to see Vikander’s back as Lady Lara Croft in one or two Tomb Raider movies in the future.

Red Sparrow (2018): Jennifer Lawrence is in a Wrong Movie

Directed by: Francis Lawrence | Produced by: Peter Chernin, Steven Zaillian, Jenno Topping, David Ready | Screenplay by: Justin Haythe | Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts, Charlotte Ramplings, Jeremy Irons, Ciaran Hinds | Music by: James Newton Howard | Cinematography: Jo Willems | Edited by: Alan Edward Bell | Production Company: Chernin Entertainment | Distributed by: 20th Century Fox | Official Website


Jennifer Lawrence is probably the biggest name to date in Hollywood nowadays. In her 27, she has done many roles that stretch her name to become the A-list star, even got an Academy Award for Silver Linings Playbook (2012). She is pretty much determinated for the role she has been given, although some movies with her in it doesn’t always be a good one.

In Francis Lawrence (not related to Jennifer)’s latest spy thriller Red Sparrow, J.Law again proves herself as one of the most extravagant actress within her frozen and stiff poker face. J.Law here is Dominika Egorova, a talented Russian ballerina from Bolshoi who breaks a leg (literally) during one of her performance. Although J.Law is the most doubtful ballerina dancer I’ve seen in a movie, her rapid change from a ballerina into a dangerous spy is jaw-dropping me. Soon after she recovers from her broken leg, Dominika is approached by her uncle, Ivan “Vanya” Egorov (Matthias Schoenaerts, who looks like a movie version of Vladimir Putin) to be on her first mission: to replace the phone of the cocky and pervert billionaire (not that Orange man, if you think of him). The mission turns into an assassination, and Dominika is once again approached by Ivan to be a “Sparrow”. She is then sent to a “National School” of which she addressed as “a whore school” where she must learn everything she has to know to become a “sparrow”.

On the same school where I think has been attended too by Natasha Romanov or the Black Widow of the Avengers, Dominika is facing pressures from her “Matron” (Charlotte Ramplings) as well as harassment by her colleagues. Her next mission is getting the name of US mole within Russian government from CIA agent Nate Nash (Joel Edgerton).

The pace of the story is going here and there, and the cat and mouse game was never really started. It’s supposed to be the battle of wits between Dominika and Nate Nash, and it turns out to be chemistry-free relationship. The story pays most of its running time on Dominika’s background story, on how this little young heroine who has to pay her mother’s treatment becomes a dangerous spy who’s willing to use her everything, including her body, to accomplish the missions. However, the background story also takes the attention away from who-should-be-outwit-whom main plot. It also didn’t give Dominika the perfect character development she needs to be a perfect heroine, but yet it gives us the torturing galore. The scenes where Dominika is douzed by freezing water while naked, beaten and tied to a chair will be there to traumatized you.

I almost think it would be a 2018 version of Atomic Blonde (2017), but it’s just going nowhere. Charlize Theron’s Lorraine in Atomic Blonde is a dangerous spy who enjoys herself doing some killing missions, yet J.Law’s poker face dominates most of Red Sparrow’s story, tries to convince us that she is strong enough to kick butts but ends up in a confusing relationship with the CIA agent and her own uncle.

Meanwhile, the top-notch casts are successfully performing their role well. Most of British actors, like Ciaran Hinds and Jeremy Irons were successfully kicking the Russian accents, as well as adding some tastes in this movie. Jennifer Lawrence, on the other side, still makes most of her movie that doesn’t live up to her talent.

The movie is 21+ in Indonesia for most of nudity, violence and sex scenes so please be a wise audience with not bringing your children watching this. Whether you will stay for the torturing scenes are live up to your own preference.

Peter Rabbit (2018): Thank God Corden Doesn’t Make a Rabbit Burrow-pool Karaoke

Directed by: Will Gluck | Produced by: Will Gluck, Zareh Nalbandian | Screenplay by: Will Gluck, Rob Lieber | Starring: James Corden, Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley, Elizabeth Debicki, Sam Neill | Music by: Dominic Lewis | Cinematography: Peter Menzies, Jr. | Edited by: Christian Gazal | Production Companies: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Oliver Bridge Entertainment, Animal Logic, 2.0 Entertainment, Screen Australia, Screen NSW | Distributed by: Sony Pictures Releasing | Official Website


Hollywood probably runs out of idea for movies since they started to dig deep down to any source to deliver a new movie, otherwise they just create another remake. After the successful adaptation of Paddington (2014) and Paddington 2 (2017), they now try to bring another classic children tale, Peter Rabbit. It is said that on 1936, Disney had offered Beatrix Potter the rights to adapt her long well-known bedtime stories character Peter Rabbit to the big screen. Potter turned it down, said that the big screen won’t capture the whole essential aspect of her Peter Rabbit character. Potter might have some point, because long after she turned the offers down, Sony Pictures big screen adaptation of her Peter Rabbit character has differed so much from the soul of the original source.

Peter Rabbit is now an animated character, like The Smurfs now, and is voiced by James Corden. Corden is known for being host on his talk show The Late Late Night Show with James Corden, where he often delivers some acts including Carpool Karaoke with his guests. Peter is still wearing his blue Edwardian jacket, and still fighting against his neighbor human Mr. McGregor (Sam Neill). Peter is not alone, his family consists of his triplet sisters Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Cottontail (Daisy Ridley) and Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki) and his cousin Ben (Colin Moody), are supporting him. Their fighting against McGregor is also supported by beautiful young lady Bea (Rose Byrne), who is created as a mini character of the original writer Beatrix Potter.

One day, Peter has the share of the old McGregor’s death by heart attack. His estranged nephew, Thomas (Domhnall Gleeson) is soon replacing him as the owner of his villa, and as the new arch-enemy of Rabbit family. Thomas later has a relationship with Bea, sends Peter to jealousy and later he creates a more complicated plan to get rid of Thomas forever. Unknown to him, Thomas also hates him as a vermin, and creates a plan as well.

As well as Potter’s worrying about the big screen won’t captured her essential Peter Rabbit, this movie has proven it. Although the animal animation of Animal Logic is simply breathtaking. The rabbit family and their animal counterparts look exactly like real animals, as when Byrne’s Bea carries the rabbit in her arms, it looks like she carries a real animal. Gluck also supports the animal movement with amazing camera shots. However, all those amazing animal animations are pointless to the savage and brutal war between the rabbit family and young Mr. McGregor. The actual motives of Peter getting those sweet veggies from McGregor’s garden becomes a truly sadistic pictures of jealousy as Thomas and Bea relationship blossoming, as we can see poor young Thomas pounded, battered, electrocuted, and exploded under the paws of should-be-cute bunnies.

One more time, this movie is a complete messy adaptation of Potter’s classic, and Sony should apologize to all Potter’s fans out there and especially to the characters on The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Potter’s Peter Rabbit is a cute and good example for children, but Corden’s Peter Rabbit is a murderous psycho, who keeps on bragging on killing old McGregor to his own family and obsessing on killing the young McGregor based on jealousy only. One of Peter’s sister Cottontail is twisted that she keeps on torturing herself, as Daisy Ridley commented her as “mental” on one interview. The old hedgehog washer-woman Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle (voiced by Sia), for once licking the peanut butter on electric fences and not worrying to death since she is old. These traits has left me confused, why the hell they want to create characters full of mental illnesses in a children movie? It’s a manic, crazy adaptation of children books, with a mix of nowadays’ songs that makes me surprised Corden hasn’t created a rabbit burrow-pool character with at least, Sia.

Probably the most failing of this movie is the slapstick that Gluck senses from Potter’s character and thinks that it would be a pure comedy if he puts it into his adaptation. He might forget that this is a tale for a children, so the message should be clear and not implicitly there on the ending. In Potter’s book, Peter is entering McGregor’s garden since he is a Rabbit, and it’s rabbit nature to dig up carrots wherever he can. Gluck might be tempted to add some humanly traits and emotional stakes for Peter, makes his baked-into-pie father becomes the reason why he has grudge towards old McGregor. This makes Peter Rabbit becomes a complete human character within the body of a Rabbit, and loses the whole original character.

If you are considering to watch this movie with your children, think again. This movie has nearly no good message for children, unless you want to introduce them to mental illnesses.

Monster Hunt 2 (2018): Delightful Movie for Those who Want to be Entertained

Chinese Title: 捉妖记2 | Directed by: Raman Hui | Starring: Jing Boran, Bai Baihe, Tony Leung, Li Yuchun, Tony Yang, Sandra Ng, Eric Tsang, Ada Liu Yan | Produced by: Bill Kong, Yee Chung-man, Doris Tse | Screenplay by: Jack Ng, Sunny Chan, Su Liang | Production Company: Edko Films | Distributed by: Edko Distribution


There were some times when you want a movie you can enjoy without thinking too much. The story is just flowing smoothly the whole running time without too many drama, or even adding some humor you can laugh at, although sometimes it feels too much at wrong place. If you want that kind of movie, then this movie is right for you.

If you haven’t see the first movie, go watch it first. However, if you don’t have time to watch it, then it’ll be just alright. Set after their separation of Wuba’s return to monster world, monster world is invaded by evil monster who wants to kill Wuba. Wuba manages to escape, and later he meets the chubby BenBen, who works for the cocky gambler Tu Sigu (Tony Leung). Tu’s gambling habit has set himself in so many problems, including with Lady Zhu (Li Yuchun), who is now looking for Wuba.

Meanwhile, Wuba’s human parents Huo Xiaolan (Bai Baihe) and Song Tianyin (Jing Boran) are continuing their journey as monster hunter. They meet Yunqing (Tony Yang), who works for the monster hunt bureau. They later find out that the bureau is looking for Wuba, and one day, their destiny collide with Tu. They learn that they have no one in this world who can protect Wuba except themselves.

Since the first movie released on 2015, Monster Hunt has delivered joyous adventures within Wuba’s cuteness and his parent’s clumsiness. The sequel is not varying so much from the first one. Still delivering lighthearted approach to the relationship between human and monster, Monster Hunt 2 becomes the movie you can enjoy with your whole family. You can forgive the awkward, easy to guess, and disordered plot by looking at Wuba’s radish-like figure and now, he goes on adventures with adorable BenBen.

Along with them, is Tony Leung. Some of us know him from Wong Kar-wai’s masterpiece In the Moods of Love (2000) alongside Maggie Cheung, or Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution (2007), or even older Zhang Wuji in Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber (1986). Leung has proved himself as a capable actor, within his ageless figures. Leung proved himself as a good investment of this movie. He carries the whole emotion alone, turns himself upside down from cocky gambler into melancholic big brother in the end. His interaction with animation character like Wuba and BenBen is adorable. He also knocks out the acting of much younger but first-casted Bai Baihe and Jing Boran.

This movie is not meant to wow you, it’s just meant to entertain you. So forget about the messed up story and let the cuteness of Wuba brings you to the other side.

The Monkey King 3 (2018): Like There’s No Other Adventure to be Filmed

Chinese Title: 西游记女儿国 | Directed by: Cheang Pou-Soi | Written by: Wen Ning | Starring: Aaron Kwok, Feng Shaofeng, Xiaoshenyang, Him Law, Zhao Liying, Gigi Leung, Liu Tao, Kingdom Tian | Music by: Yu Kobayashi | Production Company: Filmko Entertainment


Out of Chinese Four Great Classic Novels, Journey to the West seems to be the most favorite one to be adapted into the screen. Countless adaptations, from Chinese Opera to TV series to movies, from China to other countries, Journey to the West seems never losing its charisma and magical touch, literally.

This movie is a third (and hopefully the last) installment of the latest Journey to the West adaptation, directed by Cheang Pou-soi. The previous installments were released on 2014 (with Donnie Yen played the titular character Sun Wukong) and 2016 (where Aaron Kwok handed over the role from Yen). Other than Kwok as the titular The Monkey King Sun Wukong, the whole pilgrimage characters from the second installment were reprising their roles: Feng Shaofeng as Buddhist Monk Xuanzang, Xiaoshenyang as pig General Zhu Bajie and Him Law as the river buffalo Sha Wujing. This time, they are having troubles with the Androgynous River Lord Hebo (Lin Chiling), and the troubles later lead them into The Woman Country of Western Liang.

The country is resided by women, with a beautiful young queen (Zhao Liying) as their ruler. The queen has her advisor she called Mama (Gigi Leung), who tells her that men were dangerous creatures and therefore they must be killed. However, the queen and Xuanzang becomes close to each other and fall in love eventually. While Wukong tries to find out the way out of the woman Country, they learn the actual history of that Country, that built from broken hearts and unrequited love.

The movie, like its prequels, is still a visual endearing. With heavy CGIs and bright costumes, we are pleased on how Journey to the West should be: takes us into endless adventures against evil. However, the focus on CGIs seem to make the movie maker forgets that they are making a movie and therefore they should come with a strong plot as well. The plot is chaotic, disorganized, boring and it shows no development of the story and ends up confusing the audience. I can fully understand why the man in front of me spent half of the movie sleeping on his seat. They tried to create a sad love story between the Mama Advisor and the River Lord but they failed successfully, because the revealing moment feels hollow after all.

The casts have their own contribution to this chaotic movie. Aaron Kwok is too clumsy as The Monkey King, he looks like he needs more anger management than making Sun Wukong a playful, cheerful and tricky character he should be. Zhao Liying and Feng Shaofeng have no chemistry, as well as Lin Chiling and Gigi Leung, so their love story, which should build the whole movie, feels pointless. I have no point in casting a female star to become a male character and making her looks androgynous. Probably the cast of Lin Chiling is the most failed casting of all. Xiaoshenyang brought the pervert Zhu Bajie to life, but he failed to endure the whole wrecking movie alone.

I’ve watched so many adaptations of Journey to the West and I thought there were plenty of other adventures that could be a more interesting option than the woman country. This movie even failed to be entertaining. The only good in this movie is its CGIs, so if you are prefer watching a movie with lots of CGIs, you can watch this one.