For a movie buff like me, online movie tickets mean total convenience and bliss. I don’t have to rush and queue to buy the tickets before the show starts. No wasting of time having to come early just to get a good seat. Of course, there are some extra charges when buying movie tickets online, but well, time is more precious.
Sometimes, it’s a spur of the moment thing – decision made while stuck in the middle of a traffic jam along the partly completed Kingfisher flyover (yes, a long trail of snail-moving vehicle on a flyover!).
End of The Year Movies
End of 2016 was a wonderful year of movie fest for me. Getting to marvel at the mystical universe of ‘Dr Strange’; experience the magical world of ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’; witness the continuing and never-ending clashes between the Vampires and the Lycans in ‘Underworld : Blood Wars’; observe the heroic but tragic sacrifice of many in ‘Rogue One : A Star Wars Story’; be inspired by the incredible talents in ‘Sing’; be perplexed by the shadowy objectives of the factions in ‘Assassin’s Creed’; and getting another look at Matt Damon in ‘The Great Wall’ – have all been a fabulous treat.
If you missed the movies, no worries, you can still get the DVDs later when they are out. And if you’re wondering what those movies are all about, here’s my simple take on them.
Another entertaining release from the ever expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, ‘Doctor Strange’ is an origin story about a brilliant but narcissistic, extravagant and reckless neurosurgeon, who through his own fault (using a handphone while speeding on a winding road, duh!) got hurt and suffered a massive nerve damage to his hands and consequently, lost his career. When conventional medicine couldn’t help him, he took a chance for a cure upon a tip from a former patient to journey to Kathmandu.
There he met an Ancient One, who took him in and helped him to discover his true inner potentials. Conflicts ensued, and Dr Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, was born. It’s hard to go wrong with an excellent and charismatic casts such as Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen and Rachel McAdams. Though not as fun as the other Marvel movies, it has the most impressive visual displays of all the MCU collection.
I’m looking forward to seeing Dr Strange teaming up with the Avengers.
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
Harry Potter movies are a family favourite, next to LOTR Trilogy. At least once a year, we will binge on the whole instalments together. And now the magical world of wizardry and witchcraft is focused in New York, circa 1920s. ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ is a prequel to the Harry Potter movies. The main character is the bumbling but well-intentioned magizoologist (an expert on magical creatures), Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne). His book, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is one of the textbooks at Hogwarts during Harry Potter’s time.
Newt was in NY to return one of the magical creatures to its proper home but along the way, there was a mishap with his magical luggage and he got caught in the middle of Grindelwald’s scheme. Gellert Grindelwald is a Dark Wizard who briefly appeared in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. The American magical world is very different from British – even their terms and laws are different. Eg. Ordinary non-magic folks are called muggles in Harry Potter’s wolrd while here they are called No-Majs.
I feel like the era was a very dark one – maybe because it’s not a kid’s world anymore.
One of the things that bugs me about this movie is the fact that the powers of the wizards and witches in this movie seem greater than those in the Harry Potter time and they look more impressive and stylish. But as fans of the Harry Potter movies and books, my family was excited to reconnect with the wizarding world created by JK Rowling. While it may take us some time to bond with Newt Scamander and his friends, we would not miss a movie. And, as usual, it’s filled with issues to discuss with the kids such as prejudice, compassion, courage, bigotry, fear, tolerance, etc.
Besides Redmayne and Depp, the casts include Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, etc. I wonder who will be cast as Professor Dumbledore in the next instalment….
UNDERWORLD : BLOOD WARS
Since the disillusionment which the kids and I faced with Chronicle (2012) due to worldwide rave reviews, we no longer care much for reviews. In this case, there were barely any reviews when I went to watch ‘Underworld : Blood Wars’ because it had not yet opened in the USA. The fifth instalment in the Underworld series, it is basically a continuance of the centuries of battles between the sophisticated vampires and the crude lycans (werewolves).
In the previous ‘Underworld : Awakening’, Selene discovered that she has a special daughter (Eve) and then had to fight to keep her daughter safe from vampires, lycans and others. Now, Selene is being hunted by lycans for the location of her estranged daughter, and also hunted by the vampire coven for her special blood and her daughter’s extraordinary abilities.
Aside from the peaceful fair-haired vampires in a Nordic commune, there is nothing new about this movie compared to the previous ones. But it was still fun to watch for those who has followed this franchise since the beginning. Casts include the gorgeous Kate Beckinsale; Tobias Menzies (who will always be a villain to me due to his excellent nastiness as Captain Jack ‘Black’ Randall in the Outlander tv series); the delectable Theo James; well-known Charles Dance; Bradley James (was King Arthur in the tv series Merlin) and lovely Lara Pulver.
ROGUE ONE : A STAR WARS STORY
Rogue One tells the story of the sacrifice of the rebels who managed to steal the plans for the original Death Star. So, the time line is before the events in ‘Star Wars Episode IV : A New Hope’. This one is filled with tragedies and deaths – in short, it’s a sad story. There are many morals in this story to discuss with the kids, but I feel that there is no purpose to this movie. It’s about the past, that’s all. Unless I’ve missed something, it provides no information nor clue about the future characters or storyline of the next Star Wars episodes.
Perhaps it is only to demonstrate the courage of the rebels and the ruthlessness of Darth Vader. Or maybe, it’s merely a way for the studios to make more money. Nonetheless, it is still fun to watch especially Donnie Yen as Chirrut Imwe, a blind warrior monk.
Casts includes Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker, etc,
Sing is a musical animated movie about a theatre owner, Buster Moon (a koala bear), and his efforts to save his beloved ailing theatre via a singing competition. The contestants come from various walks of life, with diverse personalities, and with different reasons for joining the competition. Lots of hit songs here. So, if you’re not a fan of songs, better skip this one. The storyline isn’t as entertaining as most animated movies but it ends on a high note, thanks to the wonderful performances by the actors.
Among the casts are Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Taron Egerton, Nick Kroll, Tori Kelly, Scarlett Johansson and Seth MacFarlane.
In spite of all the bad reviews, I was looking forward to watching this movie adaptation of a popular video game series which I had absolutely no inkling about. It really is a confusing story and not an elegant adaptation. So, for whatever it’s worth, based on my limited understanding, here’s my opinion on the storyline.
It’s about the efforts of an organization to search for the ‘Apple of Eden’, which is believed to hold the key to the exact DNA sequence that controls free will which could eradicate human’s inclination towards violence. To find the Apple, they had to look for clues based on the memories of the last person known to have held it 500 years ago – a particular member of the Assassin’s Creed, a group that ‘work in the dark to serve the light’. Callum Lynch was identified as the direct descendant of that assassin. So using a virtual reality technology called ‘The Animus’, they accessed his ancestor’s memories existing in his DNA which could help them locate the Apple. The Animus were somehow able to trigger and bring forth the memories buried in his DNA – much like trying to bring out a person’s natural abilities through extreme conditions.
The action and chase sequences are thrilling enough especially those that happened during the Spanish Inquisition period involving Callum’s ancestor, Aguilar and his comrade, Maria. The storyline may not make much sense, but the idea is interesting as it reminds me of the ideas in other movies such as ‘Lucy’, ‘Limitless’, ‘The Island of Dr Moreau’, etc – all about improving humanity through technology.
The intentions are good, but the methods are questionable.
Among the casts are Michael Fassbender, Marion Cottilard, Jeremy Irons, Brendan Gleeson, etc.
THE GREAT WALL
Some say that The Great Wall is a great disappointment but I cannot hate any movies with Matt Damon in it. Besides the presence of Matt Damon, the name Zhang Yimou (‘Hero’) also piqued my interest and the fact that this movie brings China and Hollywood together.
The Great Wall is a fiction about the story behind the 1,500 years’ construction of The Great Wall of China – that it was not constructed to keep out human invaders or enemies, but to prevent the annihilation of humanity by smart, dinosaur-like creatures. William (Damon) is a mercenary who went to China to look for the ‘magic powder’ or gunpowder to bring back to the west. Most of his team mates died along the way, killed by raiders and a horde of mythical beasts (called Taotie – how cute is that name!), except for his best friend, Tovar (Pedro Pascal who magnificently played Oberyn Martell in The Game of Thrones).
Taotie is said to have fell from the heavens and appear once every 60 years to remind mankind of their greed and corruption by simply gobbling up everyone indiscriminately (Taotie should only stick to killing the greedy and the corrupt!). Because these two foreign merceneries survived the Taotie using only their superior fighting skills, they were not killed by the warriors of the Wall, the ‘Nameless Order’. Plus, it seemed that they also held the key that could help to defeat the Taotie.
The movie is visually stunning, but lacks emotional umpph. I guess all the controversies and political dramas surrounding it didn’t help at all. It’s a good move for the global movie industry, but too much emphasis on box office can be nerve-wrecking to all those involved in the process. In the end – it’s a fiction, so no need to ponder about logic and reasoning.
Besides Matt Damon and Pedro Pascal, the casts include Jing Tian, Andy Lau. Eddie Peng Yu-yan, Willem Dafoe, etc.
Well, that’s all for now. But wait – what about The Curse of Sleeping Beauty, the Passengers, First Born, etc? School holidays have ended – maybe I’ll wait for the DVD. Meanwhile, let’s browse for showtimes online and make plans.
Happy New Year 2017 to all!