The Battleship Island (2017): Unrealistic War Movie Anchored by Strong Characters

Directed by: Ryoo Seung-wan | Produced by: Cho Sung-min | Screenplay by: Ryoo Seung-wan | Starring: Hwang Jung-min, So Ji-sub, Song Joong-ki, Lee Jung-hyun, Kim Su-an | Cinematography: Lee Mo-gae | Edited by: Kim Jae-bum, Kim Sang-bum | Production Company: Filmmaker R&K | Distributed by: CJ Entertainment | Official Website (in Korean)

8.7/10

There are two ways of getting people home from the war according to the latest cinema release: Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (2017) or Ryoo Seung-wan’s The Battleship Island. If Nolan prefers to tell the way of coming home from war in a heroic and touching way, the latter chooses a gory, sometimes unwatchable, way to tell how much people want to get out of war. The Battleship Island is probably a typical Asian war movie that shows us the brutality of war, since we Asians are mostly (yes mostly. I’m not talking to you, Japanese) the victim of the war decisions we never take part of. However, it is the characters that win our heart.

The Battleship Island main story is set at nearly the end of World War II and anchored by sophisticated performances of both Hwang Jung-min (Veteran (2015) and The Wailing (2016)) and Kim Su-an (Train to Busan (2016)), who play a musician single father Lee Gang-ok and his daughter Sohee. Go to Nagasaki to search for a better life, they are sent to Hashima Island to be coal miners, along with several men including street thug Choi Chil-sung (So Ji-sub) and several womem including the brave Oh Mal-nyeon (Lee Jung-hyun). The men are sent to forced labor to coal mine, while the women are sent to comfort house as sex slaves.

In the chaos of forced labor and their sufferings, who could imagine there is one Korean key person Yoon Hak-chul (Lee Kyoung-young) trapped along the coal miners. A Korean Liberation officer named Park Moo-young (Song Joong-ki) is then sent to Hashima to free Yoon. Soon, Park reveals the true face of Yoon and his escape plan shifts into a liberation journey of 400 Koreans who trapped in Hashima Island.

Instead of the historical accuracy of this story, unlike Dunkirk, this story is likely happened since Japan did invade most of Asia in the name of their fascism and in order to win the war over The Allies. At the end credit, we know UNESCO has made Hashima Island as World Heritage Site in 2015 and though Japan refused to reveal the true history of Hashima, a special screening of this movie is held by UNESCO to raise the awareness of what was happened back there. The opinion stated that this movie is raising anti-Japanese sentiment, but in my opinion, this movie tells us perfectly that war can change any heavenly angel into a monster.

Instead of the debatable historical accuracy and so many gory scenes that actually can be found in any thriller Asian movie, this movie entire emotion is anchored by Hwang’s Gang-ok and Kim’s Sohee. As a single father who will do anything to keep her daughter alive, Gang-ok turns from a Japanese speaking musician who will do anything in his favor to a man who moved all Koreans to leave the island. Their chemistry as father and daughter is delightful and it became the ease that fulfill our thirst of emotional touch in a movie like this. The other actors then feel like they were only there to complete the plot, including Song Joong-ki who again plays a soldier after his hit performance at TV Series Descendants of the Sun and So Ji-sub and Lee Jung-hyun’s romance.

As I said before that this movie is a typical Asian war movie that consists of gory scenes and profanity, you should think twice to bring young children watching this. Even if they were crazy about Song Joong-ki.

Atomic Blonde (2017): Mesmerizing in Actions, Sloppy in Plot

Directed by: David Leitch | Produced by: Charlize Theron, Beth Kono, AJ Dix, Kelly McCormick, Eric Gitter, Peter Schwerin | Screenplay by: Kurt Johnstad | Starring: Charlize Theron, James McAvoy, Sofia Boutella, John Goodman | Music by: Tyler Bates | Cinematography: Jonathan Sela | Edited by: Elisabet Ronaldsdottir | Production Company: Denver and Delilah Productions, Closed on Mondays Entertainment, 87Eleven | Distributed by: Focus Features | Official Website

6.7/10

Have you ever imagined if James Bond wearing red stilettos or leather full-pressed bodysuit? Or did you miss Uma Thurman’s The Bride in Kill Bill (2003)? Then this movie is the right movie to watch. Directed by John Wick (2014)’s director David Leitch, that this movie made him left the project of John Wick 2 (2017), Atomic Blonde offers the same approach with John Wick. A die-hard hero (or in this case Heroine), dressed in stylish formal attire, attractive yet murderous, the resemblance is uncanny. In addition, the fact that Theron is on the same training center and doing the same training program as Reeves, made this movie tastes like a female John Wick.

Theron plays an icy cold MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton, with hair to match her cold persona and ability to combat. Her first appearance, naked on a tub full of ice with bruises all over her body, tells us she is clearly a bad-ass woman. She is called on an interview with MI6 Eric Gray (Toby Jones) and CIA Emmett Kurzfeld). She is interrogated for the event that happens on the week of the fall of Berlin Wall, after a MI6 agent James Gascoigne (Sam Hargrave) is killed in Berlin. Gascoigne later has known to hand The List, a secret list of active field agent in Soviet Union. His killer, Yuri Bakhtin, is now waiting for the highest bidder who wants The List.

The story then tells us what really happens. One day after Gascoigne is killed, Lorraine is sent to Berlin in search for The List. When she is ambushed by KGB at her first arrival in Berlin, she is helped by David Percival (James McAvoy), MI6 main contact in Berlin. In search of The List, Lorraine encounters Delphine LaSalle (Sofia Boutella), a French agent with whom she develops a romantic relationship. Soon after, Bakhtin is found dead and The List is missing. From Percival, she knows that a Stasi officer codenamed Spyglass is memorizing the entire list and therefore he must be protected. With the hardest way, Lorraine learns that in this situation, she really cannot trust anyone but herself.

Talking about Atomic Blonde, we cannot help but compare it to other male spy counterparts like Bond. In terms of action, and the casts of course, this movie looks promising. Theron looks amazing with her toughness in her fighting scenes, her stylish fashion and her cold personality. The tub full of ice and her favorite iced vodka try to convince us that she is now one of the toughest actress in Hollywood to date. She might play as the main villain in The Fate of The Furious (2017) earlier this year, but it is Atomic Blonde that we have waited all along. McAvoy’s performance as the main villain here is not brilliant but twisted enough that we suddenly remember he has played as a person with Multiple Personality Disorder in Split (2017) earlier this year.

Unfortunately, the screenplay is sloppy and the pace of the story is ridiculous. For almost two hours playtime, I cannot fully capture what Atomic Blonde is all about, and can only enjoy the movie by Theron’s fighting scenes. There are about two, three or four plot twists that actually unpredictable, and could be another nice attribute of this movie, but even those twists didn’t deliver successfully.

The movie is rated R since it is full of nudity, gore scenes, violence, alcohol and smoking, and profanities. Please be wise with leaving your child at home while watching this movie.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017): When Hitman Talks Too Much

Directed by: Patrick Hughes | Produced by: David Ellison, Mark Gill, Dana Goldberg, Matthew O’Toole, John Thompson, Les Weldon | Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek, Elodie Yung | Music by: Atli Orvarsson | Cinematography: Jules O’Loughlin | Production Company: Millennium Pictures, Cristal Pictures | Distributed by: Lionsgate Films | Official Website

6.5/10

When I know that this movie is directed by Expendables 3 (2014)’s director and starring Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson and Gary Oldman, I thought that the action and the fun in watching this movie will be balanced. This thought is not completely wrong, though it’s not right either.

As the title implies, this movie introduces us to an executive protection service led by Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds). Bryce is a complete protector agent, aware of the risk, calculates every possible situation, sexy and capable, but failed in his mission to protect Japanese VIP Kurosawa. Then the world is fallen apart for Bryce. He lost his career, his reputation as Triple A protector, his girlfriend, his everything.

Two years later, Bryce is asked by his former girlfriend Amelia Roussell (Elodie Yung), to protect an imprisoned hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson). Kincaid is scheduled to testify against Belarus’ dictator Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman) on International Court of Justice in Den Haag, in exchange to free his wife Sonia Kincaid (the extraordinary stand-alone parodic Salma Hayek). Bryce and Kincaid then tried to survive the journey from Manchester to Den Haag against Dukhovich’s hired assassins.

So instead of his reputation to direct Stallone, Willis, etc., etc., in The Expendables 3 (2014), the star-studded cast here are not utilized optimally. As a neat person who calculates his next step and well-dressed, Reynolds looks like he’s trying his best to free himself from Deadpool character, but at the end he just looks confused and just pissed off at literally everything. Jackson, on the other hand, has given more character in Kincaid other than being Nick Fury, although he said his signature “motherf*cker” a little bit too much. Their actions are just so-so, not intense enough but quite funny. Their action scenes seem to be more scenery as they did it in Amsterdam, but don’t talk about their chemistry with each other. Their chemistry is none, and they even didn’t get the chance to build it. In addition, they were talking too much about love, how Kincaid finally became Bryce’s love advisor, but that scenes don’t give so much impact on their action scenes.

Credit must be given to Gary Oldman and Salma Hayek. Oldman, as a dictator, creates a bad feeling within his Russian conversation and he makes us believed that he is a bad guy with shooting a young child on the beginning of the movie. Hayek, on the other hand, gives us more interesting and more entertaining scenes than any other character in this movie. Her prison yoga, her treatment to her cellmate, her cantina brawl scenes, all has the charisma she wants to tell us about the character.

Annabelle: Creation (2017): When Annabelle Meets Lights Out

Directed by: David F. Sandberg | Produced by: Peter Safran, James Wan | Written by: Gary Dauberman | Starring: Stephanie Sigman, Talitha Bateman, Lulu Wilson, Anthony LaPaglia, Miranda Otto | Music by: Benjamin Wallfisch | Cinematography: Maxime Alexander | Edited by: Michel Aller | Production Company: New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster Production, The Safran Company | Distributed by Warner Bros Pictures

7.6/10

This is my first, and hopefully not the last, time I reviewed a horror movie. Usually when being “invited” to watch horror, I end up covering my face the whole movie, or just falling asleep. Since I watch Annabelle: Creation twice, I cannot pull myself out of getting it all and giving my late review.

Annabelle: Creation is a prequel of the previous movie Annabelle (2014). Annabelle (2014) itself is the prequel of The Conjuring (2013) and The Conjuring 2 (2016). So basically Annabelle: Creation is a prequel to a prequel. Based on the same creepy and haunted doll Annabelle, this movie tells us about the first time the doll is created, and how it becomes haunted, and how it connected to Annabelle (2014) and finally to The Conjuring (2013).

It all begins with The Mullins family: Samuel (Anthony LaPaglia), Esther (The Lord of the Rings’ veteran Miranda Otto) and their 7 years-old daughter Annabelle or Bee (Samara Lee). Sam Mullins is a dollmaker and his limited edition doll is named after his daughter, Annabelle. The unfortunate fate comes to the Mullins when they lost the young Annabelle on an accident after their Sunday prayer on church. Sad and devastated, the Mullins try to reconnect with the late Annabelle and give permits to her spirit to enter the doll. Later, they find out that the spirit enters the doll wasn’t their daughter’s, but a far more evil spirit.

12 years after Annabelle’s death, the Mullins give permits to girl orphanage to use their house as a safe house, with the exception of Annabelle’s room and their own bedroom. One of the girls, the crippled Janice (Talitha Bateman), is summoned to Annabelle’s room and somehow open the holy seal to Annabelle doll, which is haunted. The horrors then come real, when the evil spirit kills the Mullins, and the girls are now trying to save their own life.

When knowing that Lights Out (2016)’s director David F. Sandberg is going to direct this movie, I know that Annabelle: Creation is going to set on darker tone than its predecessor. The scenes are worked out eventually, gives us the horrible feeling of what awaits us in the darkness. Annabelle: Creation is also differ from any other movie in The Conjuring universe in term of surprises. If The Conjuring slowly built the intensity and and wait patiently to show us the demon, Annabelle: Creation is quite predictable while gives us the surprises without any warning. The glimpse of Valak is shown on one scene, reflects on how this movie fits into The Conjuring film series.

The casts are somehow fit. While some of them are children, they seem to be used to horror movie. Samara Lee looks both terrifyingly cute as ghost of Annabelle “Bee” Mullins. Extraordinary performances came from Talitha Bateman as Janice and Lulu Wilson as Linda who plays their parts perfectly, especially Bateman who has turned from a crippled into a horrifying possessed girl. Compared to them, the adult casts are just so-so.

The Emoji Movie: “Meh” is All You Got

Directed by: Tony Leondis | Produced by: Michelle Raemo Kouyate | Screenplay: Tony Leondis, Eric Siegel, Mike White | Story by: Tony Leondis, Eric Siegel | Starring: TJ Miller, James Corden, Anna Faris, Maya Rudolph, Steven Wright, Jennifer Coolidge, Christina Aguilera, Patrick Stewart | Music by: Patrick Doyle | Edited by: William J. Carapella | Production Company: Sony Pictures Animation | Distributed by: Columbia Pictures | Official Website

4.6/10

When I see the trailer of The Emoji Movie for the first time, I only reminisce to 2015 Pixar’s awards winning animation, Inside Out. I almost got the same hype to watch animations since they usually have some messages to teach to their younger audiences, in the most colorful and simplest way. However, the emoji in this movie runs out their intepretation of the emotion they should represent, and lost in total nonsensical confusion.

The Emoji movie centers on two different but parallels universe. The first one, is the real one where Alex (Jake T. Austin), a shy by who wants to tell his feelings to his girl crush Addie (Tati Gabrielle), lives. The other universe sets inside Alex’s phone, where our should-be-Meh emoji called Gene (TJ Miller) lives on the city of Textopolis. Gene, who should be only showing Meh face, turns out to be able to show many kind of expressions. 

This ability gives him trouble when he shows the wrong expression on his first day working on Alex’s text application. Gene is called to Smiler (Maya Rudolph), the leader of text center who concludes he is a malfuntion and therefore Gene should be deleted. Smiler then releases the bots to chase Gene, who is now escaping Textopolis alongside Hi-5 (James Corden) to find Jailbreak (Anna Faris), to “fix” his malfunction.

The idea of emoji talking and dancing and do whatever we can do is actually brilliant, if it’s told in a proper screenplay. The Emoji Movie, however, shows more confusion than gives us the excitement of watching the emojis go on an adventure on its psychedelic world. It tries to gives us some humors, when James Corden is trying his best to bring out his charisma on his talkshows and transfer it into a sloppy hand emoji, but at the end we cannot see what to laugh at. It tries to gives some adrenaline pumps with surfing on Spotify streams or cracking the Firewalls, but it doesn’t gives us anything but the knowledge of those applications we might need on our smartphone. It tries to gives us fun with Christina Aguilera’s dancing on Just Dance application but well, mami Xtina better returns to the studio to work on her next album, I suggest.

The whole idea of The Emoji Movie turns out to be floppy and halfhearted mess. I seldomly see an animation as boring and find another excitement watching any of it, but this movie is intolerable. On one scene they tries to compare the use of Emoji with Egyptian Hieroglyphs, where I think would be foolish if one millenium ahead our descendants finds out that we using emoji as the improvement of Hieroglyphs. The best part of this movie however lies when they sit the Poop emoji (voiced by Sir Patrick Stewart), on a chair that reminds us of his role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek. The rest of this soulless and boring animation is better left in the darkness.

Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets (2017): Give me More Rihanna’s Burlesque Dance!

Directed by: Luc Besson | Produced by: Luc Besson, Virginie Besson-Silla | Screenplay by: Luc Besson | Starring: Dane deHaan, Cara Delevigne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke | Music by: Alexander Desplat | Cinematography by: Thierry Arbogast |  Edited by: Julian Rey | Production Company: Europa Corp., Fundamental Film, BNP Paribas Fortis Film Finance, Universum Film, Gulf Film, River Road Entertainment, Belga Films | Distributed by: STX Entertainment, Europa Corp. | Official Site

5.6/10

When this movie enters Indonesian cinema on early August 2017, a bit late compares to other countries, I officially doubt this movie would be exceptional thanks to their soulless trailer. The only scene that captures my eyes is that scene with Rihanna in it. After I watched this, I’m 100% convinced that Rihanna’s scene is the best part of this 140 mins long movies.

Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets is based on French comic Valerian and Laureline by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres. The movie surrounds itself of the space adventures of Special Agents Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and his assistant slash love interest Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne). They were assigned to take a mysterious pearl from the black market, along with a cute mix between hedgehog and armadillo creature called The Converter. Once they arrive on Alpha, the titular City of Thousand Planets, they were attacked by mysterious squad that kidnap Commander Arun Fillit (Clive Owen). On their journey to save the commander, Valerian and Laureline learn the mystery that happened 30 years ago, on the genocidal attack of the Planet of Mul.

So that were the synopsis I wrote after reading Wikipedia, thanks to the movie confusing plot. This movie is a real mess. If you ever saw Besson’s other movies like The Fifth Element (1997) and Lucy (2014), please forget it first and expect nothing from Valerian. It seems like Besson opened The Avatar (2009)’s Pandora Box and put it all in this movie. They invested so much money in CGI and forget to develop a proper plot Valerian deserved. I can picture the movie like playing Subway Surfer or Temple Run on what supposed to be City of Thousand Planets: you jump there and here, roll and avoid any obstacles. The different is: you cannot remember what you run after, or why you chase it. The movie is full of such useless side plots like Valerian saves Laureline and Laurelin saves Valerian, until I forget what is the movie’s main story. 

Cameo comes after another cameo is giving another color to this movie, and fulfill the element of surprise with Ethan Hawke plays a brothel businessman, Herbie Hancock as the minister, and finally Rihanna as the shapeshifter performer Bubble. Seriously, Rihanna’s Burlesque Dance is the only scene you should watch in thi movie, while you can sleep over other scenes. With her sexiness, from Egyptian Queen until seductive Catwoman, Rihanna gives us the joy we hardly found in thi psychedelic movie.

The other elements are no helping too. Dane DeHaan looks like he keeps on mimicking Harrison Ford while sounding like Keanu Reeves. And it completely failed. While Besson’s movie used to need a bigger charisma like Bruce Willis, DeHaan is failed to deliver the charisma he needs to maintain the movie’s whole emotion. Cara Delevingne is not better either, though she fills the character interestingly nice compares to DeHaan. It seems like she forgot that acting is more than just showing us her smirk and raising up one of her iconic eyebrows. Their should-be-emotional scenes didn’t work out right too, and just ended up felt cheesy.

This movie is PG-13, so please be a smart parent with advising your children on watching. 

0When I Stop Blaming Others, the World become a Nicer Place

Saat menulis tulisan ini, saya baru saja tiba di kamar setelah penerbangan saya dibatalkan dan dijadwalkan ulang untuk berangkat besok pagi. Saya gak sendirian. Ada beberapa penerbangan lain yang juga dibatalkan keberangkatannya dan sampai saat ini, ratusan penumpang masih memenuhi counter customer service untuk menunggu kepastian dari pihak maskapai.

Kalau kalian bertanya apakah saya marah, saya jelas marah. Saya rugi waktu, seharusnya berangkat jam 18.20 kemudian ditunda hingga 20.20 dan akhirnya dibatalkan. Saya rugi uang, karena sudah telanjur memesan hotel di tempat tujuan dan bayar untuk malam ini. Namun, kali ini saya memilih untuk gak mengamuk di counter customer service seperti penumpang lainnya. Bagi kalian yang mengenal saya, ini suatu keanehan karena dengan tabiat nyinyir dan mulut sampah saya, seharusnya saya sudah “menghabisi” customer service maskapai dengan kata-kata pedas.

Ada beberapa alasan mengapa akhirnya saya memutuskan untuk gak mengamuk di bandara. Alasan pertama, saya memahami sepenuhnya bahwa kekacauan ini bukanlah sepenuhnya kesalahan maskapai. Landasan bandara rusak sehingga bandara harus ditutup selama tiga jam dan berdampak beberapa penerbangan komersil dibatalkan (selengkapnya baca disini). Saya tahu bahwa pihak maskapai juga dirugikan dengan kejadian ini karena harus membayar kompensasi kepada para penumpang sesuai UU Nomor 1 Tahun 2009 tentang Penerbangan dan Permenhub Nomor 89 Tahun 2015 tentang Penanganan Keterlambatan Penerbangan pada Badan Usaha Angkutan Niaga Berjadwal di Indonesia (selengkapnya cari aturannya atau baca disini), atas kekacauan yang tidak diakibatkan oleh kesalahan mereka sendiri. Pihak maskapai saya kebetulan profesional dan taat hukum, jadi mereka menjadwalkan ulang penerbangannya dan memberi kompensasi penginapan kepada para penumpang yang memang butuh penginapan. Saya? Lha wong rumah saya cuma berjarak delapan kilometer dari bandara. Mosok mau ikut minta penginapan?

Alasan kedua, karena saya melihat banyak penumpang lain yang kondisinya jauh lebih dirugikan dengan keterlambatan dan penundaan penerbangan ini. Ada nenek A yang meskipun sudah berjalan memakai tongkat, tetap bepergian sendiri dengan luar biasa gagah hanya untuk bertemu anak-anaknya. Ada bapak B yang single parent dan baru saja selesai perjalanan dinas ke Jakarta, bela-belain pulang duluan dari rekan rombongannya karena anak bungsunya sakit. Ada mas D yang besok harus ikut seminar yang dimulai jam 9 pagi, yang mana tiket seminarnya lebih mahal ketimbang harga tiket pesawatnya. Yang paling miris, adalah kisah mbak C. Mbak C akan menghadapi salah satu momen paling penting dalam kehidupan akademisnya: sidang skripsi, yang jadwalnya besok pagi jam 08.00. Sayangnya, penerbangan mbak C dijadwal ulang besok jam 09.40 pagi. Mbak C tentu panik dan marah, dan kami semua harus berusaha menenangkan mbak C sambil menjadi saksi untuk membantu meyakinkan dosen pembimbingnya agar sidang tersebut juga bisa dijadwal ulang. Sidang mbak C akhirnya dijadwal ulang di hari Senin, dan drama itupun diakhiri dengan wirid bersama agar mbak C lulus sidang.

Dengan banyaknya drama yang jauh lebih dramatis tersebut, mosok iya saya yang cuma mau jalan-jalan ini harus mengeluh dan mengamuk di counter customer service? Saya terima apa adanya saja, toh gak ada yang bisa disalahkan atas kejadian ini. Baik pihak maskapai maupun para penumpang gak punya andil dalam kekacauan tersebut. Kalaupun ada yang harusnya disalahkan, ya mungkin pihak pengelola bandara. Namun pihak pengelola bandara pun sudah berusaha sekuat tenaga untuk membetulkan landasan yang rusak, walaupun pada akhirnya domino effect-nya tetap tak terhindarkan.

Dalam perjalanan pulang, saya berpikir alangkah baiknya kalau kita coba berpikir jernih dan mempertimbangkan segala sesuatu dari berbagai aspek. Saya yakin bahwa ada banyak cara memandang suatu masalah, sehingga ketimbang hanya melulu menunjuk dan menyalahkan orang lain atas kejadian yang kita alami, mencoba mengerti posisi orang lain akan membuat kita jadi lebih bijaksana menyikapi masalah. Jika pun harus mengambil keputusan, keputusannya pun saya yakin akan jauh lebih efektif dan akomodatif.

Jadi, kejadian kali ini bikin saya menyadari bahwa jika kita berhenti menyalahkan orang lain dan melihat sekeliling dengan lebih baik, kita mungkin akan sadar bahwa dunia adalah tempat yang jauh lebih baik dari prasangka kita. Ada banyak hal yang bisa disyukuri di dunia ini. Tambahan lagi, kita juga akan jadi jauh lebih bijaksana menghadapi masalah. Tantangan buat kita bukanlah semata-mata bagaimana kita menemukan solusi dari masalah, tetapi lebih kepada bagaimana solusi yang kita pilih membuat dunia ini jadi lebih baik.

Satu hikmah lain yang bisa saya ambil adalah: saya gak akan terbang dari Halim lagi dan tolong kembalikan Halim jadi sekedar pangkalan militer! Haha.

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017): Apes Seem More Humane than Before

Directed by: Matt Reeves | Produced by: Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver | Written by: Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves | Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Amiah Miller | Music by: Michael Giacchino | Cinematography: Michael Seresin | Edited by: William Hoy, Stan Salfas | Production Company: Chernin Entertainment | Distributed by: 20th Century Fox | Official Website

9/10

This is the 2017 summer blockbuster I’ve been waiting for and my whole time waiting is not wasting in vain!

When I saw the first movie, Rise of The Planet of The Apes (2011), I already fell in love with this rebooted franchise. Though the original franchise (1968-1973) gives me eerie feeling, it is this reboot series that satisfy me. On Rise we saw Caesar (Andy Serkis) is a pet chimpanzee and thanks to James Franco terrific acting, we get the illustration on how Caesar has become more than just an ape, but a character. On Dawn of The Planet of the Apes (2014), we saw how Caesar deal with betrayal of his own colleagues and how he became a fully respected leader, while human is wiped out due to the plague of Simian flu. It is on War, we finally saw Caesar as a complete character, who shares his traits of both being a charismatic leader that free the apes, or an angry apes who seek for revenge against humanity who have killed his wife Cornelia (Judy Greer) and his eldest son Blue Eyes (Max Lloyd-Jones).

On War, Caesar and the apes are facing situation where humanity are threatened by their existence and feared them. The soldier, now led by Colonel Cullough (Woody Harrelson), are starting to confront the apes in battles, one of them is killing both Cornelia and Blue Eyes. Burned in anger and seek for revenge, Caesar decides to kill the colonel. Alongside orangutans Maurice (Katin Konoval), chimpanzee Rocket (Terry Notary) and gorilla Luca (Michael Adamthwaite), he searches for Colonel. On his journey, they met a muted girl Nova (Amiah Miller) and comical chimpanzee Bad Ape (Steve Zahn). Later they find out that the Colonel has caught all apes and now forced-labored them to build him a wall.

This is a post-apocalyptic movie that shows us no glorify of the war. There is no glory of killing here, including killing the treacherous colleagues, not like on Dawn where we can feel the glory of Caesar killing Koba. Everyone here is a victim to their own circumstances, including the should-be-villain Colonel Cullough (Woody Harrelson). Although Harrelson tries his best to be a villain we can hate by mimicking Marlon Brando’s Kurlz in Apocalypse Now (1979) with shaving his head using commando knife just like Brando, or capturing the apes in a giant cage that remembering us of pigs slaughterhouse in Okja (2017), in the end we can understand why he did all the things he had done and why he built the wall surrounding him. His death scene is not satisfying, but understandable, and made us realized that Caesar is more humane than we probably think he is.

Caesar himself, though he shares the same traits with other post-apocalyptic movie characters who have turned from zero to revolutionary hero, feels more conflicting compared to his character in the previous two installments. His losses of both his wife and son has captured him in nightmare he barely never imagined before, and made him become more like Koba than himself. Andy Serkis has, once again, successfully motion-captured him into more than just a talking ape, and turned him into a believable and capable leader. Caesar maybe the only ape who has the most lines to be talked, and though most of his lines are showing off his smart, it is his charisma, his body language and his living eyes that has become the reasons why we should believe this character is the hero we need.

The other apes are also become more humane within their minimized conversations and their sign languages. Their interactions are cute, funny and also touching. Finally, this is the third installment we need, that has turned the whole franchise into movies, not just a product or a product placement (yeah I look at you Transformers).

Dunkirk (2017): A War Film has never been as Beautiful as This

Directed by: Christopher Nolan | Produced by: Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan | Written by: Christopher Nolan | Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James d’Arcy, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hardy | Music by: Hans Zimmer | Cinematography by: Hoyte von Hoytema | Edited by: Lee Smith | Production Company: Syncopy, Inc. | Distributed by: Warner Bros Pictures | Official Website

8.5/10

As one of the most anticipated summer blockbuster movie of this year, Dunkirk fulfill the hole that has been left by other movies: being a historical war movie. The most interesting thing in Dunkirk that you might not see on other movie set on World War II is that instead of glorifying the war, Dunkirk chooses of focusing on those who suffered it, or how they escaped the war, or in this case, came home.

Sets on May 1940 where the British and French were cornered at Dunkirk by the Germans, this movie split its plot on three different but intertwined subplot, set on different space of time:

  1. The Mole: One week before the evacuation (starts on 26 May 1940), young British Soldier named Tommy (Fionn Whitehead, I almost write his name as unnamed soldier as his name is barely mentioned the entire movie) tries every way he could to evacuate from Dunkirk and get back home. His unfortunate fate keeps on following him and his colleagues: Gibson (Aneurin Barnard) and Alex (Harry Styles, in a look that I finally know why Taylor Swift ever fell for him), as their vessels keep on sinking after the Germans blows it up. The lost of the vessels are the reason why the British Government finally activates Small Vessels Protocol, calling all owners of small vessels (yachts, naval motor boats, tugboats etc.) to help the evacution of the soldiers at Dunkirk.
  2. The Sea: One day before evacuation, a civil boat owner Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance), alongside his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) and Peter’s friend George (Barry Keoghan) answer the call and sail to Dunkirk. They soon meet a traumatic and shivering soldier (Cillian Murphy), who insist they must return to England. Mr. Dawson refuses and decides to continue their expedition to Dunkirk. It turns out later that Dawson’s eldest son had been sent to war as a pilot but never returned, so Dawson decides to help as many people as he could in order to make anyone has a better fate from his son.
  3. The Air: One hour before the evacuation, three Spitfire pilots: Farrier (Tom Hardy), Collins (Jack Lowden) and their squadron leader are sent to assist the evacuation. On their way, they are encountered by several Germans bombers that has been successfully sunk the British Destroyer Ships full of soldiers. Soon after their leader was shot down, Collins plane is damaged and he ditches the plane at water. Collins is later helped by Dawson while Farrier continues to Dunkirk to make sure the evacuation is done, even it means he won’t have fuel to return home.

Just like the other Nolan’s movies, this movie is done beautifully. The cinematography is brilliant, since they use very small CGIs, so you can see about 300,000 soldiers lining and waiting for miracle on the beach, for real. Each actor also has done their part and feels like they were chess pieces that plays a game to win Grandmaster Nolan. The young actors plays their role with dignity, and you can see that their acting were real, as real as their seniors did. You can see despair in Whitehead, bravery in Glynn-Carney and even arrogance in Styles. They were the souls of this movie, and their contribution to the movie’s whole emotions are even better than the other well-known actors.

Other best parts of this movie are the intensity and the music scores. Nolan seems to know well that intensity plays a big part for war movie, so he builds it right from the start. He even doesn’t give us time to feel relax, and retains the intensity at the increasing level throughout the 107 minutes runtime. This movie shows that a war movie can be built without a very long runtime with addition of abundant drama (Yes, I look at you, Gone with the Wind). The intensity of the plot is supported wholeheartedly by Zimmer’s beautiful scores.

No gory scenes like the other war movies, but still you are suggests to not bring your children watching Dunkirk, even if he/she is a fan of Harry Styles. Please stick to the subplot timeline, otherwise you’ll get confused. Happy watching!

Baywatch (2017): It’s Sun, Sand, Beach, and Dwayne Johnson

Directed by: Seth Gordon | Produced by: Ivan Reitman, Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz, Gregory Bonann, Beach Flynn | Screenplay by: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift | Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach, Priyanka Chopra | Music by: Christopher Lennertz | Cinematography by: Eric Steelberg | Edited by: Peter Elliott | Production Company: Paramount Pictures, Contrarian, The Montecito Picture Company, Vinson Pictures, Seven Bucks Production, Flynn Company, Cold Spring Pictures | Distributed by: Paramount Pictures, Shanghai Film Group, Huahua Pictures | official website

4.8/10

When it comes to another movie remake, you cannot move on so far from its original story. Or charm. Or the main attraction why people are decided to watch this movie at the first time. On this movie, the charm itself lies upon their casts, and their abs, biceps and cleavage, and thanks to Dwayne Johnson’s friendly smile, this movie is a bit far from total destruction. Or at least he saves what he could save, instead of letting the other things fall apart.

You don’t watch Baywatch for the plot, I do truly understand that. I also understand that the original TV series that aired on 1990s wasn’t take the plot seriously too, as long as they have Hasselhoff’s manly figure and Pamela Anderson’s cups. Enter then Dwayne Johnson as the next generation of Mitch Buchannon (I don’t even know why they give the same name to him if they also want to do Hasselhovian cameo), a friendly and dedicated lifeguard who has taken his job as his life. Anderson’s role of CJ Parker is handled by Kelly Rohrbach, who’s been oversexualized over her slow motion run that seems to be Baywatch’s trademark over the years. To freshen the line up, enter three new recruits: retired Olympic Gold Medalist Matt Brody (Zac Efron), smart marine biologist Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario, who had been awkwardly casted as Johnson’s daughter on San Andreas (2015)) and tech nerd Ronnie (Jon Bass).

The plot is quite simple, as seems that they wholeheartedly know that the audience would take the plot lightly. The Baywatch team must team up against smart club owner, drug dealer and property queen Victoria Leeds (played beautifully by Priyanka Chopra). Leeds is actually a good villainess: she has charm, looks good on tight silk dress that I almost think she could be one of that Baywatch team, and she is determined to get what she wants. The minus is she doesn’t look intimidating enough. Chopra is fine, sexy and fulfill the requirements of being on one screen with all those good looking actors, but her villainy doesn’t show what is the impact other than Johnson’s saying that it’s worse than coccaine.

This movie relies so much on Dwayne Johnson as the other actors keep on flailing on showing their character. However, since all the emotions are carried upon Johnson’s shoulders, almost all scenes that supposed to be funny turns out failing successfully. Despite of Johnson keeps calling him with nicknames like “One Direction”, “Bieber”, “NSYNC” until “High School Musical”, Zac Efron is nothing more than just a pretty face (and a ripped body) that tries too hard to look dumb and ask for your pity. Efron cannot bring out the comedy he should have performed through his character. Not to mention the comedy they try to bring out in bullying Jon Bass, or the oversexualized images of all the actresses. 

So overall this is the Baywatch we have longed to see since 1990s, a better version, but still a soulless movie. They hint sequel so let’s just pray they will make a better one next time.