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)


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


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


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


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


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


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.