Movie Review: Spectre

It’s been four years since I’ve done a movie review, but what the heck.

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Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion about the movie but I felt that the latest James Bond didn’t deserve all the panning it received. So after reading scathing reviews and general disappointment from people on my newsfeed about Spectre, I decided to write my own review of the movie.

To set the tone for this review – I’m not a James Bond fan. I don’t hate the films or anything, I just don’t love them or follow them religiously. I’ve only seen a handful of Bond movies and I even missed Skyfall. I also didn’t have any set expectations to what the movie should be beyond it being an entertaining spy flick.

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The more you know

The cheese cake was decent. It’s not the worst cheese cake I’ve ever had in my life, but far from the best either. I guess I could attribute it to me not being a fan of chiffon in the first place, or my preference for more traditional variations of the cake: cookie base, cream body and a sprinkly of chocolate powder over the top.

The coffee wasn’t much to shout about either. It was a good cup of coffee but a lot of places serve good cups of coffee at sub RM10 prices nevertheless. Maybe I don’t have the tongue and taste buds or experience to accurately ‘judge’ my coffee. But for what it’s worth, to me it was nothing special.

I don’t frequent these kinds of places much, and I don’t expect to in the future. But I guess today I learnt an important lesson: I’m a Secret Recipe kind of guy.

Review of Exhibit Café, TTDI, 24/5/14, 16:40

Movie Review: Real Steel

Real Steel
I walked into the theater with pretty low expectations. Especially after seeing the trailer for the movie which made me feel like it was going to be just another Transformers rip off. But after watching Real Steel, I can safely tell you that – this movie blows Transformers out of this world. Forget the Michael Bay disappointments we’ve been sitting through over the past few years. Real Steel does right everything that Transformers did wrong, and then offers some more. But most importantly; it has heart.
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Movie Review: Johnny English Reborn

Johnny English
Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) is back, and it’s a good thing. After catching the funny trailer many months ago, I had some pretty high expectations about the movie, and I wasn’t let down. As soon as the movie starts you’re in for a treat. What was missing in the original (which I felt was too dry for my tastes) is all here and while Rowan Atkinson might be aging, he sure isn’t losing his acting chops.

Johnny English Reborn tells the story of Johnny English, a secret agent who was dismissed from the force 5 years ago due to a mishap in the past, returning to MI7 to help prevent an assassination attempt on China’s Prime Minister. This time around he has a new partner in the form of newcomer, Agent Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya) to keep him in check. There aren’t any racial jokes here (ala Rush Hour), which is refreshing. However there’s a lot of slapstick humor here. And I mean a lot.

The plot this time around is far-fetched – but hey, what would you expect from a spy comedy? It’s the jokes and gags littered throughout the story that we came for, and there are plenty to be found. Beating up old people? Check. Stereotypical Asian bad guys? Check. Helicopter ride on the freeway? Check (in fact, it was one of my favorite scenes in the movie).

All in all, I didn’t have a problem with the movie, and found myself laughing out loud during quite a number of scenes. If you’ve got time and some brain cells to kill, Johnny English Reborn is definitely right up your alley. I’d give Johnny English Reborn 7/10. Oh yes, stay awhile for a nice outtake during the credits.

Movie Review: Priest

So I went into the cinema with low expectations mainly because I didn’t expect much after watching the trailer for Priest and I wasn’t impressed. And I was right.

Priest tells the story about a priest (Paul Bettany) in a futuristic post-apocalyptic world that sets out on a journey to rescue his niece who was abducted by vampires. The Church, unhappy with his intentions sends out some priests after him to bring him back. And let’s not forget the mysterious villain, the man in the hat who looks a lot like Hugh Jackman.

A typical story that’s been done quite a number of times, except this time it’s set in an interesting location. One of the strongest points about the movie is the whole post-apocalyptic setting and the Church – it’s not a totally fresh idea, but it certainly is a nice breather from all the typical vampire movies we’ve seen recently. Speaking of vampires, these creatures aren’t your regular humans with fangs either, they look more like aliens from space than anything, which is good and bad. People aren’t used to vampires being like that, which probably makes it hard to accept, while it makes the movie stand out from other vampire films.

The protagonist, Priest, was unlikeable. He wasn’t interesting, and besides his ability to kick ass, there was really nothing going for him. His sidekick, Hicks (Cam Gigandet) was even more interesting than him. But all in all, the actors were probably the worst part of the movie. A lackluster performance from most pretty much everyone who wasn’t a vampire.

To sum it all up, Priest isn’t a very good movie. But it isn’t terrible either. It probably could’ve been a better movie if they had better actors or a more captivating script. Props to the crew for coming up with an interesting setting and creating a new style of vampires. Definitely not a movie I would watch twice, but if there was a sequel I might give it a shot. The animated introduction was probably the best part of the film. Priest gets 5/10.

Movie Review: Fast & Furious 5/ Fast Five

Fast Five
Entering the movie with low expectations was key to my enjoyment of the movie because I can tell you that by the end of it – I was blown away. When watching Fast & Furious 5/Fast Five somehow I just had the feeling like the director believed that this was going to be the last F&F movie and he decided to pull out all the stops when making it. In my opinion, this movie is the best one out of the five.

Fast Five reunites the cast from all the previous movies when Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) decide to pull off the final and largest heist of their lives. All your favorite characters from the series are back in this movie that is pretty much just Oceans with fast cars and hot babes and also with half the intelligence and double the action.

The characters are all pretty likeable with the actors doing their jobs well. There’s nothing to complain about here, but one thing got me wondering – I see it happening all the time in movies: why are girls so reluctant to tell their baby’s daddy that junior is on the way? And when they do, it’s right before a big decision so the man doesn’t leave her. That’s not how things work in real life, you get knocked up, you go knocking on his door as soon as you find out! But I digress.

The movie had its fair share of unrealistic scenes, but this is F&F after all – don’t expect anything less, but it also had one of the most interesting car chases in movie history. A bank safe attached to two cars by a couple of chains, and a switcheroo stunt in the middle of the highway? Impossible? Probably. Exciting as hell? Most definitely.

One thing long time fans might be disappointed with is the lack of emphasis on the cars. This movie had more to do with story and character interaction than metal boxes with wheels. But if you’re in the mood for an exciting summer blockbuster, Fast Five isn’t going to disappoint you. Fast & Furious 5 gets a 7/10.

Oh yeah, stay for an extra scene after the credits. Mmhmm.

Movie Review: Thor

Going into the cinema, I didn’t really know what to expect. I don’t read the Thor comics, so I can’t tell you how good the movie is compared to the comic but what I can tell you is – the movie just set the new standard for Marvel Comic adaptations. The bar was raised pretty high with Iron Man back in 2008 but Thor kicks it up a notch this year. Hopefully Marvel doesn’t let this standard drop with their upcoming movies.

Thor tells the story of a Norse god, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) who was banished to earth. While back home in Asgard, Thor’s brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has a plan to wipe out the Frost Giants of Jotunheim by destroying their planet. Thor has to find a way back to Asgard and save them.

Director, Kenneth Branagh, known for highly complex and intricate movies like Hamlet and Sleuth does a great job with Thor. It’s not very deep movie but it’s not overly simple either, and the pacing is great, with enough action to keep the summer action blockbuster fans happy.

One thing I enjoyed about the movie is that the big supporting name actors didn’t steal the limelight from the relatively unknown main cast – which shows that Hemsworth and Hiddleston can hold their own up against A-list actors. Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings are there to look pretty as usual – substance wise, not so much but it’s okay because they provide the comic relief.

When you take the story and break it down to its simplest form, Thor is basically the story about a brother trying to outdo his brother in order to earn his father’s attention. But Branagh and the cast wrap the plot with enough layers and action sequences to make it more than just a rehashed story, and do a great job with it. It definitely sets the standard for Marvel movies to come. Oh, and like every Marvel movie – remember to stay for the extra scene after the credits. Thor gets a 7/10.

Movie Review: Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood
“From the director of Twilight,” clearly states the movie’s poster. So I kinda knew what I was getting myself into when I stepped into the cinema. I had low expectations for the movie and was pleasantly surprised the movie didn’t suck.

Red Riding Hood tells the story of Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), a girl that’s been arranged to wed a rich man, Henry (Max Irons) but is in love with her childhood sweetheart, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). Valerie plans to run away with Peter, but their plans stop short when her sister is murdered by a wolf – the same wolf that the village has been offering monthly sacrifices to keep appeased. The movie revolves around the plot of trying to figure out who the big bad wolf is. Loads of red herrings are purposely placed in the movie to throw the audience off – which is fine, but some seem a bit forced. Especially Valerie’s grandmother.

The cast does a decent job, with Gary Oldman standing out as the overzealous Father Solomon leading the wolf hunt. Peter and Henry – two guys who are supposedly competing for Valerie’s affection don’t seem to be doing much and you can hardly sense the rivalry between them.

The movie somehow reminds me of a less complex The Usual Suspects/Identity/Lucky Number Slevin – but when you discover who the wolf is, it doesn’t really take you by surprise. However, Red Riding Hood is a movie that is decent at best, and Twilight’s director Catherine Hardwicke somewhat redeems herself with this offering. Hopefully she continues to improve with time. Red Riding Hood gets 5/10.

Movie Review: The Roommate

The Roommate
I saw the trailer for The Roommate before I entered the cinema and expected a typical college/thriller movie, and I was right. While the premise of The Roommate isn’t very common, the typical elements of a movie in the same genre are there, babes, frat parties, booze, murder, sex, and so on. Don’t expect anything groundbreaking and you should be decently entertained.

The Roommate tells the story of a college freshman, Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly, who somehow reminds me of Jessica Alba) who gets a crazed, obsessive stalker for a roommate named Rebecca (Leighton Meester). At first, things are all fine and dandy, until Rebecca starts to fall for Sara and her obsession grows out of hand.

The cast play their roles well, with Leighton Meester standing out as the crazed roommate – she’s actually believable as the crazed psycho bitch she portrays in the movie. There’s really nothing to complain about, and the onscreen babes are definitely serious eye candy. Especially Nina Dobrev’s three-minute cameo.

If you’re wondering about watching this movie in the cinema, it’s not a bad choice as a last resort but you’re better off waiting for it to arrive on HBO sometime down the road. The Roommate gets 5/10.

Movie Review: Source Code

Source Code
I heard good things about Source Code before stepping into the cinema, including its 90+% score on Rotten Tomatoes during its opening week, so I was expecting good things from the movie. Boy I wasn’t let down.

Jake Gyllenhaall stars as Colter Stevens, a soldier who is thrown into an experimental project, Source Code, which puts him into another man’s body to relive the last 8 minutes of the man’s life. In the 8 minutes he spends in the body, he is supposed to figure out who the bomber of a train is in order to prevent a much larger bomb from going off in the city that day.

From the get go, you should know that this is a science fiction movie, and a “time travelling” one at that – so expect obvious flaws and plot holes. It’s never easy to write stories about parallel lives and going back in time without making any mistakes, but Source Code does a pretty good job of covering it up with an entertaining cast, light hearted gags, and romance.

Jake Gyllenhaal plays a convincing soldier who happens to be caught in someone’s body and portrays his character’s emotions really well, especially in the scene about the phone call to his dad. Michelle Monaghan plays Christina Warren, Colter’s love interest in the movie, and does a pretty good job at it – you can’t help but fall in love with her as well. Russel Peters cameos in the movie as a standup comedian and even gets a chance to perform on the moving train. Nothing to complain about here, there’s eye candy for people of both sexes.

The movie ends on a high note, like a typical Hollywood ending, but it somehow doesn’t cheapen the whole experience. You feel for Colter, and really root for him to get the girl. You might walk out feeling a bit confused, and as you start to dissect the plot, you’ll start to be unimpressed. But taking it at face value and with a little thought – just a little and you’ll find that Source Code is one of the best movies you’ll catch this year. Source Code gets 8/10.