Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016): Sweet Ending for The Most Successful Game Adaptation Movie Franchise

Check the official movie site here.

The sixth (and said to be the very last) installment of Resident Evil movie franchise is telling the next story of Project Alice  (Milla Jovovich) after she leaves Raccoon City at the end of Resident Evil: Retribution  (2012). Alice is suddenly contacted by The Red Queen (Ever Gabo Anderson), an artificial intelligent created by Umbrella Corporation, that tells her the way to end the plague of T-virus. Alice must head to the headquarter of Umbrella Corporation to find antivirus and release it to the air before the last human civilization extinct from earth. On her way, she is caught by Dr. Alexander Isaacs (played by Game of Thrones’ Jorah Mormont Iain Glen), who actually stands behind the infection of the T-virus. She escapes and encounter her old friend Claire (Ali Larter). The two then manage a team to infiltrate Umbrella, while also being challenged by their old enemy Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts). At the end of the story, Alice finally finds out the reason why she can’t remember the past and learns her true identity.

8/10. Probably the most exciting installment of the franchise for me. The plot is enjoyable, not like the confusing prequels, or at least you can see that they are trying to build a plot that make sense for fans. You can enjoy the thrill from the start, how they build the emotion and the horror from the start, slowly raising up the tense until you are ready enough for the revelation at the ending. There’s not much battle with the zombies like the previous installments, but you can still get the goosebumps from the appearances of such metamorphosed zombie monsters. The ending is kinda lame, but it somehow completes the whole puzzle of the movie franchise and gives us the reason what is Alice fighting for from the beginning.

Milla Jovovich is still kicking asses as the fearless clone that fighting zombies, and again this movie is all about her, right? I can see many other characters along this movie franchise from the beginning until this very last chapter, and although it goes along with the game like Ada Wong, Albert Wesker, Claire Redfield etc., they are just a complementary characters for Alice. There’s still no story on how they ended, whether they survived or turned into zombies, nobody knows. However, if you have watched interviews with Jovovich in which she said that this movie will be the most terrifying installment, I’m telling you she’s not lying after all. 

And if the movie is the last installment of the franchise, well, I gotta say that they have made this franchise ends very sweet.

Ballerina (2016): More Like “Beware with the Way You Fight for Your Dream”

Since I can’t find their official movie site, here’s the Wikipedia page.

Ballerina (in some places released as Leap!) tells a story of Ballerina (of course, or should it be a story about a butcher? LOL) named Feliciė (Elle Fanning). Orphan and clueless, she is so passionate of being a dancer. Alongside her friend from orphanage, Victor (Dane DeHaan), Feliciė leaves the orphanage for Paris. Feliciė and Victor soon separated, where Victor becomes office boy for Gustave Eiffel and Feliciė makes her way to Paris Opera Ballet. Penniless and awkward, Feliciė meets Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen), a limp cleaning woman who works for Madame Le Haut (Julie Khaner). Feliciė soon encounters Le Haut’s daughter, the bratty Camille (Maddie Ziegler), and steal her identity to enter the Paris Opera Ballet so she can learn to dance. 

7.5/10. I think this animation is not purely dedicated for children, but merely to young teenagers. The story is as simple as many other animations, heartwarming and cute, but there you go, another formula of “a young girl who tries to achieve something in her life, accompanies by a male counterpart.” This movie is carefully placed for the young teenagers who is too bored for watching Moana (2016) but is not able to watch Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016). There’s a slightly touch of satisfaction in me to watch an animation story about the character who fights for her dream rather than going on an adventure with other male counterpart and a distinct animal. This movie is giving us that feeling, unfortunately with greater consideration needed. Think about this: you have a dream, you are willing to fight for it and give your everything to make your dream come true, but in order to give it all, you have to steal someone else’s belonging to give you a chance of pursuing your dream. How can you explain it to your young children? This world is full of grey things like that but I believe you want your children to act honest in every step they make in pursuing their dreams, right? So before watching this movie, think about my question and how you answer it.

The soundtracks are awesome and empowering. Forget Lin Manuel Miranda’s brilliant composition for Moana, this movie has a better touch of empowering soundtrack with Demi Lovato and Chantal Kreviazuk. However, the rest of the casts are okay, but I have an issue for Elle Fanning. I don’t think she is the right person to voice Feliciė. She sounds stiff, doesn’t represent Feliciė’s bright character at all. I think Maddie Ziegler’s Camille has better characterization than Fanning’s Feliciė. 

So? Have you answered my question? Now go watch this movie with your young ones!

xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017): an Exhausting Second Sequel of xXx Franchise

So lately I’ve watched movies without writing any reviews. My bad. Anyway the movie site is here.

xXx: Return of Xander Cage tells us the story of the return of Xander Cage (literally) from his fake death (I don’t remember his death on previous installment and my boyfriend didn’t help either, so I googled and found out that he faked his death on the DVD extension version. So don’t blame me for not seeing it). Xander Cage (Vin Diesel) is picked up by CIA agent Marke (Toni Collette) to investigate the infiltration of CIA office and the stealing of the Pandora box by a mysterious group, led by Xiang (Donnie Yen). Cage then builds his own team: the sniper with outrageous green hair Adele (Ruby Rose), the freak collision addict Tennyson (Rory McCann) and useless (literally) DJ Nicks (Kris Wu). They find Xiang and his team: the oversexualized Serena (Deepika Padukone), martial artist Talon (Tony Jaa) and Hawk (Michael Bisping) on Phillipines and later find out that Xiang and his team are ex-XXX members who tries to stop the Pandora Box to drop the satellites into targeted location and create massive destruction.

4.5/10. So Xander Cage is back, xXx is back. Then what? For every actor that has acted on two or more different franchises, you must be able to differentiate the characters of the franchises. For me, I can differentiate Rocky and Rambo, Neo and John Wick, The Transporter and Lee Christmas, but not with Xander Cage and Dom Toretto. Xander Cage is kinda smiley for a special agent who is able to do anything, nothing is actually wrong with that, but sadly Dom Toretto is same kind character. I feel like Vin Diesel is getting trapped on a stereotype of character and it’s boring. 

The whole movie is boring too. The plot is predictable. The show off scenes where Cage is skateboarding through the cliff, stealing receiver from the tower just to let people watching football match, or riding a motorcycle that turns into a waterski, is just an impossible show off, and it doesn’t make sense with the whole story. The only interesting scene is when Cage, Serena and Xiang hand over the hand grenade to one another in order not to let it explodes. The rest, I think I can sleep through it. Donnie Yen is being Donnie Yen. No more or less. I love how cool they create Ruby Rose’s Adele, but HATE the oversexualized Deepika Padukone’s Serena. I love the craziness of Rory McCann’s Tennyson (out of his nearly expressionless Sandor Clegane of Game of Thrones), but questioning what the importance of Kris Wu’s Nicks for the team.

So, watch it or not? Yes, if and only if, you have to wait for your friend for about two hours and cannot find any other better movie to watch.

Live By Night (2016): Where did It Go Wrong in Affleck’s Gangster Story

The official movie site is here.

Live by Night is all about the story of antihero Joseph “Joe” Coughlin (Ben Affleck), a nearly expressionless Irish man who suddenly throws himself into underworld war between Irish mob, Albert White (Robert Glenister), and Italian mafia Maso Pescatore (Remo Girone). Despite being son of Deputy Inspector of Boston Police and WWI veteran, Joe decides to join the Italian Mafia after White beats him and allegedly kills his lover Emma Gould (Sienna Miller). Pescatore then sends him to Tampa, Florida, to establish his business there while kicking White’s business out of Florida. Joe, with his charismatic approach and sometimes with his gangster way, successfully leads his business over liquor and narcotics, even collaborate with the Cuban where he finally marries Cuban lady Graciella (Zoe Saldana). He also successfully eliminates one by one of his challenges: the Ku Klux Klans, the extremist RD Loomis who asks for his part for Joe’s clubs, and finally the sheriff’s daughter Loretta Figgis (Elle Fanning) who became a devout Christian who stands against Joe’s casino building.

7.5/10. Well, this is probably because I watched too many gangster movies and become a die-hard fan of Godfather (1972). So for me, this movie is quite good, sharp and effective like a gangster move, but also lack of surprise. You can expect all you can expect on a gangster movie if you have watched Godfather, LA Confidential (1997) or even The Sopranos (1999-2007): bloody slaughters, massive gun shootings, political lobbies, bribery with Affleck’s sharp directing style (if you have watched Argo (2011), you should know), but it’s way too easy to guess. Even the plot twist at the ending that shocked the lady beside me is too clear to be seen even from the beginning. So while everything in this movie is running at the very right path for a gangster movie, I still feel that this movie is lack of its spirit. 

However, the actors’ is acting quite satisfactorily. Affleck, though it seems like his character is lost to the man who’s sitting in the director’s chair (which is Affleck himself), tries his best to keep his cool as a mafia boss while keeps looking good in his period creme suits. Sienna Miller looks terribly good in her bitchy performance and talks a heavy Irish accent while playing Emma Gould, Elle Fanning is quite good as Loretta Figgis but not convincing enough as a drugs addict who turns into devout Christian, but it is Zoe Saldana who steals the screen for me. Playing as the sister of Cuban businessman’s sister Graciella Suarez, Saldana shows a stellar performance without having sexually exploited. Graciella is not a diva like Emma Gould, or a divine Christian like Loretta Figgis, but her simple dream to build houses for unattended women and children gives this movie a real virtue while surrounded by dirty businesses, and keeps this movie stands still on the ground.

I don’t wanna convince you to watch this movie, but I wanna quote a beautiful quote of this movie

So where is heaven? This is heaven. Right here. We’re in it now.

-Loretta Figgis

La La Land (2016): Living American Dreams with Entertaining Scenes

Check the official movie site here.
La La Land is a story about an actress wannabe, Mia Dolan (Emma Stone) who accidentally meets and keeps on meeting a passionate jazz musician Sebastian (don’t know his last name, played by Ryan Gosling). The story then rolls up on Mia and Sebastian cute love story and their journey on living their own dreams. 

9.4/10. This is, so far for me, probably the most entertaining movie in 2016. Though it feels like soooooooo American, like “you can dream whatever you want to dream about and if you keep believing then someday you’ll get there” statement, I still feel happy with the bright and colorful scenes, Emma Stone’s nice dresses and Ryan Gosling’s jazz plays. The story is actually quite average, with the strong message that you should keep believing your dream, but so many elements seems to be beautifully composed into one complete movie. As I talked before, the story, the soundtrack (City of Stars could be your lullaby for these days aftet you watched it), the costumes and the contrast of the scenes can make you feel happy immediately. Haha. Oh, this is also the story for you who loves jazz, I probably do though I’d like to enjoy every genre of music, that Ryan tells and shows his passions about the arrangement of Jazz that would still wow you everytime you listen to it.

I would give this movie a perfect 10 if it’s not because of three things. First, though I love Emma Stone, she has perfect figure and seems to be a very nice person on screen, I’d prefer to see actors who can really sing. Maybe the idea of musical movie is not quite marketable as Emma noted on her Golden Globe’s speech that the idea of this movie is a “crazy notion”, but think again about Disney movie or the classic Singing in the Rain that Director Chazelle said to be one of his inspiration. They all casted person who can sing, and it still be good movies. So while I love Emma and Ryan’s effort to make their dance and their sings real to us, I still prefer the real musician. Second, I don’t think they give us a proper explanation about Mia’s dream. They gave us a passionate Sebastian with all his bla bla bla about jazz and his music, but we just have a story about an aunt of Mia that inspires her to be an actress. They even don’t let us see Mia’s monologue, that I think should be a huge step for her career. So all we see in Mia is a barista at coffee shop who keeps failed her audition, then she wrote some bla bla bla monologue, and suddenly a fine director calls her and asks her on an audition. Well, if you are trying to make people believe in their own dreams, you should probably tell us more how Mia achieves it. Third, I hate the ending. HATE! I think I could leave the cinema with happy feeling all over me but then the ending left a little anger in me. Haha.

So, if you are asking me how I feel after watching this movie, I can say my feeling is mixed. I’m happy, and being inspired to chase upon my passion. However, I still think that if they put a little effort in telling us more about Mia, that should be perfect.

Arrival (2016): Joining the Sci-fi Trends with Adams’ Stellar Performance

Check the official movie site here.

Arrival is a story about the sudden encounter of 12 extraterrestrial spaceships on 12 spots of the world. On the US site near Montana, US military, led by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), is trying to communicate with the aliens about their purpose on earth. Weber then asks Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a well-known language professor, and Dr Ian Donelly (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, to assist them in deciphering the way the aliens communicate. The more Louise and Ian trying to communicate with the two aliens, two heptapods they called Abbott and Costello, the more often Louise dream about her daughter Hannah. As they are close enough to understand the heptapod’s languange, they ask for the purpose of the heptapods encounter to earth. The heptapods answer “offer weapon”. The answer seems to make everyone panick, and China suddenly declare war to the aliens, followed by other countries. Louise thinks she must crack the real meaning of the answer before there is war of the worlds.

8.1/10. I don’t always understand sci-fi drama like this, you know, and everytime I get out of the cinema after watching one, I always have millions unanswered questions. However, this movie for me is enjoyable. Not a brilliant one, but enjoyable enough for simple girl like me. Besides, comparing Arrival to Nolan’s Interstellar (2014) could become an insult to Interstellar itself. Haha.

Hollywood, on their latest day, has trend of creating movie about space traveling, try to explain science of the galaxy and put little drama on it. Joining the trend of space sci-fi drama, after Gravity (2013), Interstellar (2014) and The Martian (2015), here comes Arrival. As I said before, this movie is enjoyable, even if you’re not a science freak. You can still understand the beauty of the storyline, the tense when Louise try to decipher the language while dream about her lost daughter, and feel that they are not even trying to force the romance between Louise and Ian. Please pay attention to every detail of the story, and you will discover that the storyline is actually so beautiful and it explains why we keep watching Louise’s dreams about her daugher.

So, if you are into science fiction movie, watch this movie but please don’t compare it to other sci-fi movies. After all, Amy Adams’ Golden Globe nomination feels like it is a proper way to honor her stellar performance here 

The Great Wall (2016): Another Whitewashing Story of Hollywood

Okay. So this is a late post since I watched this movie yesterday. The movie site is here.

The Great Wall is the latest movie from Beijing Film Academy Director Zhang Yimou (Farewell My Concubine, Hero, The Curse of The Golden Flower). The Great Wall tells us about the story of two mercenaries William (Matt Damon) and Tovar (Game Of Thrones’ Oberyn Martell, Pedro Pascall) who in search of The Black Powder, is being ambushed by mythical creatures. Have no idea of what the mythical creature is, William and Tovar later join the troops of the Great Wall, led by General Shao (played by my favorite Chinese Actor Zhang Hanyu). They soon meet Shao’s Commanders: Lin (Jing Tian), Wu (Eddie Peng), Chen (Lin Gengxin), and the troop’s strategist Wang (Andy Lau). William soon discover that the troops are fighting the mythical creatures called Tao Tie (饕餮) that emerge from the legend and ready to invade the world.

6/10. Okay so I watched this movie for several reason. First, I like Zhang Yimou and his signature cinematography. This movie, despite of that weird The Lord of The Rings style of fighting beasts, is full of his beautiful cinematography. You can see the beauty of colorful Fighting Suit, just like the glamorous fighting suit of Jay Chou in The Curse of Golden Flower (2006), alongside the sling actions that remind you of the beauty of Hero (2002). Second, I admire Zhang Hanyu, and for whatever reason I hate that his character is killed just at the middle of the movie. Haha. Third, and the most, I always love Chinese movie. And by the mean love means I LOVEEEEEE chinese movie so much, especially when it’s colossal and it’s based on ancient China! While I am quite angry with the casting of Matt Damon in this movie, I can’t ignore the fact that this movie is somehow enjoyable for me. I can almost see it just like Red Cliff (2008) set on the Battle of Mordor. 

However, I also hate this movie for several reasons. First, although it has Zhang Yimou as director and most of the actors are Chinese, I see this movie is just another Hollywood’s whitewashing. The cast of Matt Damon, Pedro Pascall and Willem Defoe (as Sir Ballard) is pretty useless for me, and just seen as Zhang’s effort to finance his big budget for this movie. Second, this movie is nonsense. Though it claimed that it was just “legend” at the beginning, it still leaves a lot of questions. Why does the Tao Tie only attack every 60 years? Why do they just try to kill The Queen of Tao Tie instead of destroy the lair since they know the location of their lair? Why do they need bungee-jumping blue soldiers and suicide troops to attack Tao Tie directly while they have cannons, giant catapult and also gunpowder? If the Tao Tie can be blinded by a magnetic stone, why don’t they just collect the magnetic stone, send it to the lair and destroy the entire horde? And maybe I just lost in anger… haha. Third, there’s a lot of things that feel like it was forced into one movie. For me, it just like wasting the whole talented casts into a nonsense story.

So overall, this movie is enjoyable, if you are a monster-movie-lover, but I warn you not to expect too much from this movie.