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Get Smart – A Total Blast! July 3, 2008

Posted by drowmage in Get Smart, Movie Reviews, Movies.
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Lately I’ve encountered a whole load of crap in the cinema. ‘Jumper‘ was one, ‘10000 BC‘ was another; ‘Indiana Jones 4‘ should have been left in the closet; and though I know I’m a little late in catching up with this, but ‘Shrek The Third‘ was the ugly green dud of the year.

So it’s a little refreshing to walk out of the hall chuckling and chortling over the last 2 hours of unexpected fun. As I did today, when I bought my 6 ringgit ticket to watch ‘Get Smart’.

I didn’t read a single review about this movie, I didn’t watch a single trailer; and I didn’t even bother to find out what it was about. All I knew was that it was a toss-up between ‘Wanted‘ (this is a sure winner for the scissor-happy Censorship board), and ‘The Incredible Hulk‘.

Since I’ve had it with ugly green creatures ruining my movie experience, I decided, stupid or not, I’d rather spend my time with the 40 yr old virgin. Mind you, I thought this was going to turn out to be another ‘Johnny English’ or some random-spy-movies-in-the-past-year-which-was-so-bad-I-can’t-remember-the-names. I’m glad I was proven wrong.

Since I’m too lazy to write an actual full length review on the show, let’s sum it up here :

Synopsis: Maxwell Smart (Steve Carrell) is an agent (more of an analyst, really) at the super secret government agency called CONTROL. He yearns to be out in the field, fighting off CONTROL’s enemy, KAOS, as an undercover agent. Will he get that chance, to be one of the ‘guys’? When he is partnered with Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) in order to infiltrate KAOS’s sinister plans in a surprising twist of events, he goes all out to prove that he is more than just the average joe. (revealing more will spoil the fun for you)

Anne Hathaway: Gorgeous. God, I love seeing this girl’s face! Oh, surprisingly, she’d not half bad as a spy agent. Though I kept thinking of her as the sweet nerd from ‘Princess Diaries‘.

Steve Carrell: This man is forever stuck in ‘The Office‘ role. He’s only good for his deadpan act. I say he’s a passing fad, but for now, he’s struck our funny bones for a bit.

The Rock: Oh, I know we’re supposed to call him Dwayne Johnson or something now, but think about it, why waste our breath with an extra syllable? He doesn’t do much here, pretty wooden at times which is sad because I find that he has a fairly meaty acting chop somewhere; but the character he was given here was just kinda stereotyped.

I give props to James Caan, who acts as the President. They don’t say which President he is, but y’all know only one pronounces nuclear as ‘noo-ku-ler’.

Overall: I haven’t laughed this hard since ‘Hot Fuzz‘ and ‘Police Academy‘. Oh, my sides.

I know it’s probably not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But hey, some people hate veggies too; but it’s still good for you.

Oh, did I mention Mel Brooks as the consultant for the film? That’s what made it even more cool!

Get Smart Poster (linked to www.firstshowing.net)

(pic from http://www.firstshowing.net)

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Hot Fuzz Review : Smokin’ Hot Y’all! June 23, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Hot Fuzz, Movie Reviews, Movies.
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Before stepping into the cinema hall, I thought this would be a parody of cop movies akin to the slapstick styles of “Naked Gun” or even “Police Academy”. I was wrong. It was more of “Bad Boys II” meets “The Office” – in true British satire.

Enter Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg), Britain’s best policeman – sorry, police officer (as corrected by Angel himself in order to ensure the term isn’t sexist); whose arrests are 400% higher than any other officers, has 9 commendations for outstanding police work and has been stabbed at least 3 times. In fact, Angel is so good that he has made his team and his superiors look like pansies – resulting in him being transferred to the most ‘ulu’ of places in the British countryside, where there’s nary even a mobile phone signal. There’s a good side to all this, though. They’ve promoted him to Sergeant in Sandford, Gloucester – which is ‘the safest village in the country’, according to his new boss, Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent).

On the first night in the village, Angel begins to clean up the town by taking on those who dare resist the law – underage drinkers, Harry Potter look-alikes wearing traffic cones and drunk drivers. However, he finds out that his style of police work is too much for the current constables, who prefer to sit around eating chocolate cake, drink beer at the pub at 11 am and make fun of his serious nature. Angel even finds himself stuck with the bumbling Danny Butterman (Nick Frost), who aspires to do all the ‘cool things’ he has seen cops do in movies. The most ‘villainous’ man he’s met so far, is the local supermarket owner, Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), whose ‘slashing’ prices are a ‘killer’.

However, when a series of ‘accidents’ occur in the quiet village, Angel suspects foul play – yet no one seems to believe him, with the exception of Danny. Putting his reputation and his career on the line, Angel begins his own investigation – and finding out in the end that there is more here than meets the eye.

Simon Pegg is delightfully serious and stern-looking in the film, portraying his character with conviction as a police officer with a no-nonsense attitude as he tries to enforce the law in the quiet, laid-back village. As for Nick Frost, his portrayal of the bumbling police officer who follows Pegg’s character everywhere like a pet dog – all eager and bright-eyed – gives us a lovable character that you can’t hate.

And what better way to portray the ‘villain’ than Timothy Dalton? Dalton may not have been the best Bond ever (the jury is still out on this one), but oozes a villainous arrogance, combined with the famous charm in his portrayal of Simon Skinner.

There are also other notable cameos in the film, which will trigger a sense of familiarity – and there’s a general feeling of fun in the air as you watch them tackle their role. Even the famous Peter Jackson and Cate Blanchett have cameos – but they’re in such disguise that you’ll miss them.

Director Edgar Wright seems to take delight in mixing and matching various cinematography styles, made famous in films like “The Matrix”, “Bad Boys II”, and TV shows such as “NYPD Blue” and “CSI”. Throughout the film, you’ll find yourself recognizing several camerawork techniques that may give you goose bumps – for a relatively new director, Wright has perfected these styles and created his own blend.

The beauty about this film is that it doesn’t try to follow the usual cop story formula we’ve become tired and accustomed to in Hollywood films – except when poking gentle fun at it. The comical moments aren’t blatantly put out on the screen for you to see, nor are they crudely executed. Rather, you’ll find yourself snickering more often than not, and being stunned by the inconceivable jokes that slip through the seams. With lines like “By the power of Greyskull” and scenes that would make you chortle the next time you watch another cop movie, what could go wrong? Nothing, in this case!

Throwing out the unexpected and giving homage to films like “Goodfellas” and “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”; the wrap up of the case isn’t quite what it seems. Director Edgar Wright decides to hurl you along into another 30 minutes of pure action which will leave you chortling at the blatant scene-for-scene mimic of “Taxi Driver”, “Bad Boys II”, “Lethal Weapon” and even “Matrix Revolutions”.

Having never watched “Shaun of the Dead”, I can’t compare the much-talked about sleeper hit with the latest offering from the same creators. However, with the stroke of genius that is “Hot Fuzz” – I think I’ll start ordering my copy of “Shaun of the Dead” right now – after catching the “Fuzz” the second time round.

The Drowmage rates this as : 5 stars

Expanding the Den : Movies and other rants June 2, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Drowmage's rants, Fantastic Four 2, Malaysian Movies, Movie Reviews, Movies, Ocean's 13, Pirates 3, Random Thoughts, Shrek The Third, Sumolah.
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Things have been a little crazy lately, so I’ll summarize the list of movies I’ve watched and the list of things to look forward to :-

1) Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End

Fun, yet a little draggy. As much as I love watching the half-pissed Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) and his many stroke of good luck save the day, there’s only so much I can watch without wondering how much longer they plan to drag the story in order to make the movie worth the 10 bucks you fork over. Had goosebumps at a particularly horrifying scene between Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) and Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) that reminded me of ‘The-Beach-Scene-in-Grease-With-Waves-Crashing-On-the-Rocks-and-Bad-Lame-Music-in-the-Background”. Watching Topher Grace trying to be Venom was less traumatic. Or Chow Yun Fatt acting as a Singaporean pirate, before Singapore was Singapore.

2) Sumolah

You’ve met the people. You’ve had a connection with them over similar hobbies. And, you want to like their movies. Yet, when you go through the show with a lot of cringing moments, raised eyebrows, and slaps on the head at the most obtuse moments – that’s when you ask yourself, do you care more about being nice or being honest? In short, the movie sucked. It could have been, and should have been better – yet it was filled from beginning to end with blatant advertising of products by the main sponsors for the film, Ogawa and Celcom. I sure as hell ain’t going to use any of those two products ever again. I want to rant more, but out of respect (and that I pretty much covered about 40% of how I felt was wrong in my published review), I won’t. Unless you ask me nicely. With chocolates. Go read Suanie’s review, she pretty much covered what I’m whining about.

Movies to look forward to this month :

1) Shrek the Third (or Shrek 3, depending on how your country’s marketing it)

The lovable green ogre is back, this time caught up in yet another adventure to get the rightful king onto the throne of Far Far Away; or else the kingdom gets a green, mean, farting machine as a king (Shrek). Sounds easy, except that the evil fairytale characters have joined forces to conquer the kingdom under the leadership of Prince Charming. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but caught up on a load of clips from the film in YouTube. I’ve decided not to write a review for this movie, seeing as I’m a major Shrek fan, and no amount of bad script could move me to say blasphemous things about the green ogre. It’s almost similar to the bond Star Wars nerds have with last two awful Star Wars movies.

2) Ocean’s 13

Two words to make this film the must-see of the summer. AL PACINO. The Godfather himself joins the franchise as the baddie, and you can almost feel the sparks fly off the screen watching the trailer. Catch it here : http://oceans13.warnerbros.com/

3) Fantastic Four : Rise of the Silver Surfer

Not to sound obscene or anything, but the thing that sells this franchise is Jessica Alba. Seriously. Even girls think she’s hot. Yes, and of course the Silver Surfer – that’s another thing to see on the screen instead of just absorbing it from the comics. Of course the story gets warped in the film; instead of being the good guy, the Surfer is the baddie here, but let’s hope they stick to the real story and give us a nice twist in the end.

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In other news, I’m expanding the Den a bit. Someone asked me a few weeks back, why was my blog all about movies and music? Point taken. Very good point, indeed. So, I’ve decided if and when, I’ll talk fantasy in this blog – all about the drows, the elves and the wonders of sorcery. I may even have time to conjure up a good spell for forgetfulness, if I remember it.

Quote of the Week : “Tree-shagging pixies”. Courtesy of Agreal, Demon Hero.

“28 Weeks Later” Review – Beneath the Blood and Gore, An Excellent Film Awaits May 7, 2007

Posted by drowmage in 28 Weeks Later, Movie Reviews, Movies.
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British films are cool. So far, from the ones I’ve watched – there’s no happy ending, no stereotyped characters, and everyone’s a bastard no matter what. Today, I watched “28 Weeks Later”, the sequel to the cult film “28 Days Later”, which was apparently inspired by the cult classic “Dawn of the Dead”. But it’s not a zombie movie, it’s way more than that. Here’s the review :

To be honest, I’ve never caught the first movie, “28 Days Later”. With that, I assumed that this film was a zombie movie – something along the lines of classic zombie flicks like “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” (both the 1978 film and its 2004 remake). However it turned out to be a variant version of films like “Outbreak” and “Resident Evil” – yet tastefully done to keep you on the edge of your seat.

In the first movie, an outbreak of the “Rage” virus leads to a near-deserted London. Once infected by the virus, the victims slowly succumb to it and become mindless, with the virus driving them into a murderous rage; tearing, biting and ripping anything that lives. In the sequel, it no longer takes that long for the virus to affect a person – but in a matter of seconds from being infected, the victim becomes the murderer.

In the opening credits of “28 Weeks Later”, there is a brief explanation on what has happened between the first movie and the second. The first wave of the infected victims, termed as the ‘Infected’, had died from starvation. A NATO force, led by the United States, had clamped down on London, and quarantined the city; cleaning up the mess. Weeks later, the quarantine was lifted on the Isle of Dogs, and a new city was being rebuilt. Refugees and survivors returning to England were placed here.

When siblings Tammy (Imogen Poots) and Andy (Mackintosh Muggleton) return to London after the city was declared safe, they are reunited with their father, Don (Robert Carlyle). Don, however, tells the children that their mother, Alice (Catherine McCormack) had fallen victim to an attack from the ‘Infected’ – only the three of them are left of their family. Feeling guilty for not even having a picture of his mother to remember her by, Andy convinces Tammy to sneak out of the ‘Green Zone’ – the heavily guarded section of London – and back to their home to pick up a few momentos. To their shock, they find Alice still alive, and unaffected by the virus.

However, their mother was indeed bitten and infected; and although her body was immune to the virus – this made her a carrier. Unknowingly, Alice is brought back to the ‘Green Zone’, where a doctor, Scarlet (Rose Byrne) finds out that she may carry the antibody to fight the virus – but General Stone (Idris Elba), in charge of securing London’s safety; wants Alice killed to avoid further infection. In the midst of all this, Don sneaks into the medical facility to see Alice. Soon after, through a series of events, the virus begins to spread once again – plunging the city once again in chaos.

This was definitely NOT a zombie movie – not just by resisting the usual formula to define a zombie. The ‘Infected’ did not sluggishly drag themselves across the floor; instead, they attacked and ravaged with inhuman speed – like the mindless aliens from the “Aliens” movies; and they didn’t die first before turning into the ‘Infected’, but were instantly transformed after getting infected by the virus – hence disputing the term “The Living Dead”.

Newcomers Mackintosh Muggleton and Imogen Poots did a reasonably good job as the two children stuck and surrounded by the murderous ‘Infected’; without over-acting or seeming wooden. More numbed by shock and loss than anything else, their characters gave the film a different dimension to look at (after all, we’ve grown bored with seeing couples as the main characters of such films). Robert Carlyle (“Full Monty”, “Trainspotting”) has always been an excellent actor, and again he shines in this film. Without giving away too many spoilers, let’s just say that you can feel his pain, rage, and sadness in this film.

Although “28 Days Later” was directed by Danny Boyle (“Sunshine”), he chose to be the executive producer for the sequel, and the director’s chair was given to critically-acclaimed Spanish director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (“Intacto”). Juan Carlos’ style is different here from other horror/gore flicks, moving away from a clean, ‘arranged’ Hollywood look and feel, giving it an almost dreary look and hopeless feel to the film, as if this is what the future entails for all. The character build-up was lacking in the film, however – yet it serves to enhance it rather than to turn it into a bore fest.

The film has its fair share of blood and gore – though there’s more blood most of the time. Most of the scenes were obviously shot using a digital hand-held camcorder, giving the impression of frenzy and panic as the ‘Infected’ jumped on their victims – almost bringing you into the film. The usual shock tactics are used here to create suspense and make you jump right out of your seat – the quiet, eerie silent build-up before the action happens; dark, gloomy underground passages; and viewing the characters through night-vision goggles – and seem to keep you engrossed in the movie without cheapening it.

The more impressive scenes are the aerial shots and wide-view look of a completely deserted London city. Known to be one of the busiest cities in the world, it is almost disturbing to see a handful of people walking down the deserted streets – in broad daylight. Even more disturbing is scene from the helicopter – not a single car can be seen on the London Bridge or any of the roads – leading you to wonder at either the impressive digital technology, or the citizens from using these roads during the filming.

Beneath the layers of gore and blood however, the message is clear. During the Dark Ages, pestilence and plague were destroyed by quarantining towns full of people and burning them to the ground. In the wake of the recent SARS outbreak and the bird flu virus in Asia, the question still remains; how far can a country go before resorting to the final decision of exterminating all living folk, just to destroy something that can be seen only under a microscope? Would mankind still stand by his arrogance that he alone is superior, as is seen in the film when the General arrogantly assures Scarlet that there is no further infection?

The film is entertaining, with a number of unexpected scenes, leading you to ponder on the possibilities of the third movie just before the closing credits – and the subliminal messages hidden beneath the spatters of blood.

The Drowmage Rates this as :  Stars 4

28 Weeks Later Poster

“Spiderman 3” Review – Too Many Stories, Spoil the Film April 25, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Movie Reviews, Movies, Spiderman 3.
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I’m back from a preview of “Spiderman 3”; after going through a hassling traffic jam, and reached home only to find out my electricity had been switched off for some road works – with no advance notice. After arguing with the chaps for a bit, managed to rush out my preview for the new “Spiderman 3″…. albeit a few minutes late. Here’s the blog version, different from my published one apart from the synopsis (for professional reasons, of course):

Review : Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), now having gone through what we’ve seen in “Spiderman” 1 & 2 movies respectively, is living the life of a dream. He has a beautiful girlfriend by his side. As Spiderman, he is revered by the city as a hero for fighting crime and saving people’s lives daily. Although he still stays in a dodgy little apartment, and still has that freelance photography job at the Daily Bugle, he’s a happy man.

However, problems soon arise, when Parker finds himself caught up in his fame as Spiderman, that he begins to revel in it at the cost of his love, Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst). One morning, he wakes up to find himself in a new black suit, and discovers that an alien-like symbiote has merged itself into his suit, creating the new look; flashier, stronger – yet, darker, in a sense – Spiderman. Parker soon exhibits a darker personality, and begins to change; not just as his alter-ego, but as an individual – pushing Mary Jane to the brink.

In the midst of all this, Parker is dogged by more problems. Word is out that the real man responsible for the death of Parker’s uncle, Ben, is Flint Marko (Thomas Haden Church), who has just escaped from prison and is now loose on the streets. Digging deep into his darker side, Parker goes after Flint for more than just revenge, but to exterminate him; only to find that the ex-convict has somehow become The Sandman.

More chaos occurs when Harry Osborn (James Franco) takes up the mantle of his father as the new Green Goblin. Out for revenge for his father’s death, which he believed was caused by Spiderman, Harry pursues Parker at every turn of the corner – creating havoc, and pushing Parker into finally embracing his darker side.

At the losing end, Parker must find a way to destroy his enemies, and sever his link to the alien symbiote – but ends up creating a new enemy when the symbiote lands on Eddie Brock (Topher Grace), the new guy at the Daily Bugle who is out to replace Parker as Spiderman’s photographer; thus creating Venom – and who’s hatred for Spiderman runs deep.

The beginning credits of the film showed freeze frame snippets from “”Spiderman” 1 & 2, creating a little background history for the viewers before delving into the third movie.

Stan Lee makes a cameo, as he’s done in the past two Spidey movies, and has a good line this time. Topher Grace acts like his character, Eric Foreman, in the “70s show”. Rather wooden. And as much as I would like to believe that he has embraced the Venom character, he sounds odd when talking, like his mouth is full of teeth. Oh wait. They are.

Thomas Hayden Church was good here, showing the anguish the character needed, to convince me why he turned to crime, and how he became the Sandman later on. However, James Franco didn’t do much to convince me that he’s angry enough to want to kill Spiderman, but came off sounding like just another spoiled, rich brat who’s throwing temper tantrums.

Tobey Maguire’s looking a bit puffy here, probably having put on some weight recently from fatherhood. He gets to flex some acting chops, by not being a goody-two shoes all the time in “Spiderman 3”, but also as the bad-ass version of Peter Parker. The scenes after his transformation into the bad side, or , in homage to “Star Wars”; the ‘dark’ side – are funny, especially when you see the normally well-mannered, staid Peter Parker suddenly filled with the groove, checking out the ladies, and smoothly standing up to the dreaded J. Jonah Jameson.

Regrettably, Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane looks haggard, drained, and quite aneroxic here; and although you know better – you’d find yourself rooting for the character of Gwen Stacy who seems to be more alive than the red-headed skeleton pining after Parker. However, the Gwen Stacy character is more of a tool to be used by Parker in the movie, rather than the cause of internal conflicts and the object of desire as it was in the comics.

There were too many stories squashed into this film. The final result : the main story was messed up, with some parts too short, and some parts too long and dragging you along. After a while, it gets a bit tiring to know that you can sort of predict what’s going to happen before every scene. Don’t get me wrong. The movie (some parts) were still exciting, sometimes gripping, yet, predictable.

One gripe : Spidey landing in front of the U.S. Flag, however – that was a big groan. Enough with the patriotism already – this is an international movie, with an international audience. We need a flag for Earth, and wave that around for every movie now.

In one of the final fight scenes, with heavy irony, the news reporter says “Could this be the end of Spiderman?” which almost seems prophetic. Three’s a lucky number at this stage, and I don’t see how much more excited one can get with the fourth instalment of “Spiderman”. Maybe it’s time to make a choice, just like the theme of this movie. There’s no such thing as having no choice – you can choose to do what’s right, or what’s wrong – but there’s always a choice. To end it, while the feeling is high.

No review can do justice to the film, even though the film ain’t that great. There’s just TOO MUCH to talk about, and I feel like I’ve skipped a whole saga with 2 reviews. Go watch it, but, with an open mind, and no major expectations.

Drowmage Rates this Movie as : 3 Stars

“Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny” Review (18PL)- Only for the Fans. Heavy swearing involved. March 16, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Movie Reviews, Movies, Tenacious D Movie.
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If you’re NOT a huge fan of Tenacious D, or Jack Black for that matter, and have an aversion to cursing – don’t bother reading this post. In fact, I’m going to rate this review as 18PL – just for the language and well… language. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Most people, when they think of rock music, instantly associate satanism, sex, booze and getting high with the rockers. “Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny” does nothing to counter that, and in fact, endorses that belief in ways that will stun you beyond logic.

The movie stars Jack Black and Kyle Gass, which make up the band Tenacious D. In the beginning of the movie, we see a young version of JB, played by a very Jack-Black-like Troy Gentile, being punished by his father (played by Meat Loaf) for his ‘satanic music’ ways. Or he was getting his ass whooped for saying ‘fuck’ in his entire song at the supper table. In any case, JB prays to a poster of Dio’s lead singer, Ronnie James Dio – who suddenly comes to life in front of him and tells him to search for his destiny in Hollywood. And off he goes, and the movie brings us to the current time, when the now older J.B. (Jack Black) finds his way to Hollywood and eventually meets KG (Kyle Gass), who becomes his ‘trainer’ and ‘master’ in the ways of rock.

They enter an open mic night to win some money to pay the rent, and with their one lone fan – the pizza guy Lee (played by Jason Reed) – proceed to rock out. However, JB is told by the host that they need better material to win the open mic night the next time. When JB and KG try to come up with new songs, in frustration JB notices that all the successful rock musicians in the magazines had one thing in common – a pick with a strange design. The realization brings them to the Guitar Store, where they meet the Guitar Store Dude, and learn about the pick which was forged from the Devil’s tooth, which is now in the Rock and Roll Museum in Sacramento.

From that point on, the movie becomes infused with tons of rock music, weed smoking, a car-chase, and the usual Jack Black humour. They finally make their way to the Open Mic show, and in a heated argument, manage to break the pick, which gets picked up by the Devil. The two challenge the Devil to a ‘rock-off’ , in which if they win, the Devil goes back to Hell and pays their rent. But if they lose, the Devil gets to take KG back to Hell as his ‘bitch’. Scary odds.

For the Drowmage, the movie is funny. Not because it’s a funny hit movie, mind you, but because it’s just so wrong on so many damn levels. If you’re ever listened to the group’s first album of the same name, especially “Wonderboy” or “Fuck Her Gently”, you’ll get this movie. It’s the thought of these two, pot-bellied, disgusting looking asses running around on stage with an ego that would overpower Narcissus himself, yet bringing such an incredible fusion to rock, metal, and old-age opera. And when you hear KG tell JB that he needs to do one cock push-up (you heard me right) a day, it’s so fucking wrong that it’s funny.

As usual, Ben Stiller makes a cameo here (you’ll see him in the music video for their song “Tribute“) as the Guitar Store Dude. Also, look out for Dave Grohl, from the Foo Fighters, reprising his role as Devil in the movie – just as he did in “Tribute”. Plus, there’s a tribute to a scene from “A Clockwork Orange” in the first part of the movie.

There isn’t any incredible acting here, nor is it an well-written script. But it’s an adventure through the minds of these two jack-asses, best taken when you’re seriously in need of cheering up. You’ll laugh. You’ll snicker. Heck, you may even chuckle with glee at some of the scenes (and I mean, really graphic scenes), and the lame-ass jokes might even seem better with beer. Start getting your copy at Amazon.com.

Oh, and don’t do drugs, or eat strange mushrooms in the forest when you’re hungry. You might get way high, dream of a Strawberry River, and fall off a tree, just like JB did.

The Drowmage Rates this as :Stars 3.5

 

“Mukhsin” Review – An Easy, Simple Tale March 7, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Movie Reviews, Movies, Mukhsin.
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Review:

“Everyone has a first love story to tell.” This is the tagline to Yasmin Ahmad’s latest offering, “Mukhsin“, and couldn’t be closer to the essence of the film. It’s a movie a lot of people would relate to, not just about the young blossoming romance between the two characters, but just the other supporting characters in the film.

Just a brief synopsis regarding the movie: Orked (Sharifah Aryana), at a tender age of ten, finds a new friend in the twelve-year-old Mukhsin (Mohd. Syafie) , who has just moved into the neighbourhood. The friendship starts off a little rocky at first, but as the days pass, they spend more and more time together. A small misunderstanding results in them not speaking to each other – until Mukhsin moves away.

It’s as simple as that. There are supporting stories to the main tale, revolving around Orked’s slightly eccentric family, and their neighbour’s roving husband, to Mukhsin’s parents. But although all these seem to add more depth to the film, bringing an relaxed, easy-feeling when you’re watching it, the film doesn’t stray away from the original theme very often.

It’s nice to – for once – not have to psycho-analyze a film. The synopsis for “Mukhsin” sounds similar to “My Girl” (starring Macauly Culkin); but instead of the Western references, has been given a Malaysian flavour with its scenic kampung lifestyle and lovable ethnic characters. Where else would you find a film where a young Malay girl is shown as a student in a Chinese school, speaking and writing the language fluently? It’s a break away from normal local film, where filmmakers have constantly segregated the culture and races into their ethnic groups, bringing a sense of stereotype. Yasmin breaks away from that, as was seen in “Sepet”, “Gubra” and now “Mukhsin”.

The cinematography isn’t anything fancy, nor are there stunning special effects. And why not? What grips you more would be the chemistry between the characters – the way Orked and her mother (played by Sharifah Aleya) interact with one another; the relationship between Orked and her father. Orked isn’t a typical girl either; who gets bored with the typical girlish games and opts for playing sports with the boys instead – choosing her cat over dolls. Pink would be so proud (referring to the lyrics for “Stupid Girls”).

Look out for cameos from Sharifah Amani and Ng Choo Seong, in a scene which brings hints of a happy ending for “Sepet”, and local indie filmmaker Ho Yuhang, whose back is the only thing the audience sees, but his voice is recognizable instantly.

The music also plays a part in the film, especially when a French ballad, “Ne Me Quitte Pas” (Don’t Leave Me), sung by Nina Simone, was playing in a background as Orked’s parents are dancing happily; and the next scene which showed a sad Mukhsin standing outside the house watching them was simply heartbreaking. In contrast, the theme song, “Hujan” (Rain), which was written by Yasmin’s father, was played with a cheery, light tune, not unlike the feel of the film.

But, as the title of this review shows – it’s a simple tale. It’s nothing new, compared to numerous films from other countries, and it’s not something you would call a breakthrough in films. But although it’s an age-old formula in film, it doesn’t fall flat. It’s a film we would all relate to – we’ll laugh at the familiar jokes, we’ll wonder at the beautiful countryside scenery, and we’ll cry at the tender moments. It’s like a tapestry, woven together into a creation just short of a masterpiece, but still beautiful enough to be admired, to be revelled at.

And most noticeable was during the entire length of the film, Mukhsin never mentions to Orked about how he feels, letting such moments pass by him like a leaf in the wind.

But it’s still enjoyable, nevertheless, and brings a feeling of warmth, like a hot cup of Milo when you’re feeling hungry, or a hot bowl of chicken soup when you’re sick in bed with flu. “Mukhsin” may not blow you away, but it’ll definitely stir up some old, heartwarming memories in that closet of your soul.

The Drowmage rates this as : Stars 4

Other Drowmage News : Meeting the Cast of “Mukhsin”

“Music & Lyrics” Review = Another Ho-Hum Romantic Film February 8, 2007

Posted by drowmage in Movie Reviews, Movies, Music & Lyrics, Photos.
20 comments

So I went to watch the movie today. And when the movie started, the first thing they show is a music video from the supposed pop group that Hugh Grant‘s character, Alex Fletcher, belonged to before they broke up in the movie.

Music & Lyrics Poster

Yeeelchhh. Imagine the Drowmage cringing and trying very hard not to smack her head many many times during the rendition of the oh-so-Duran Duran/NKOTB songs. Here’s a trailer for the movie, so you know what I’m talking about.

Music & Lyrics Trailer

Ok, so back to the review…

The movie is about a washed-up ’80s has-been singer, Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) who is struggling as a performer now. He sings at the fair and at whatever weird shows his manager can book him for, and his fans are women who seem to be stuck in the past and in their mid-40s. His chance to get himself out of this rathole of being a one-hit wonder comes in the form of Cora (Haley Bennett), who is “bigger than Britney and Christina put together”, when he is asked to come up with a song for her to perform with him in a duet. The problem? He’s crap at lyrics, and has less than a week to come up with the song, and with the best lyrics or else he’ll get shelved into the dark hole of has-been singers. When he overhears his plant lady (who the hell has a plant lady anyway?), Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore), who is a great lyricist and he convinces her to write the lyrics, while he writes the song, for Cora. And what follows is the usual cliche fare of all romantic comedies with a happy ending. Yay.

The last time I heard songs from the ’80s, was when I was in sixth grade and listening to “New Kids On the Block” and “Tommy Page” (I know! I know! Stop cringing!) In any case, when I heard the first few lines from Hugh Grant singing “Pop Goes My Heart”, I had enough goosebumps to last me a lifetime. The song and the music was sooo fracking cheesy – as it was meant to be according to the prod notes I read, but still…. I think they’ve hit an all new low with this. Hugh Grant looks so old in the movie, and so damn haggard (40s is the new look, perhaps?). I read that he had to undergo professional training to sing and dance in this movie. If that’s the best he could come up with, well, in the words of Simon Cowell, “You can’t sing; you can’t dance; so what do you want me to say?”

Drew Barrymore is more toned-down here, compared to her last few comedies. I don’t know, her jokes and her acting seemed almost too… autonomous (is that even a word?) and just boring. I saw her on Saturday Night Live acting as Olive from “Little Miss Sunshine” on a parody called “The Dakota Fanning Show” with Amy Poehler, now THAT was funny. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Check it out here.

Brad Garrett is just too funny as Fletcher’s manager, Chris. Do you love “Everybody Loves Raymond“? I do. Again, Brad displays that funny, sarcastic, dead-panned humour we’re used to seeing in “Raymond” and “Gleason“. Also, I definitely give props to Kristen Johnston in her role as Sophie’s sister, Rhonda. Yes, she’s re-enacting her usual style we know and love from “Third Rock From the Sun”, but that’s why she’s such a funny female comedian! (Want to see more of the hilarious Kristen? Try getting ahold of Episode 18, Season 6 of “Sex and the City”, titled “Splat!”)

The movie is ok. It’s not the funniest I’ve seen, and in terms of romantic comedies, movies like “My Best Friend’s Wedding” and “The Truth About Cats and Dogs” still sit on top of my fav list. The problem with “M&L” is that the story doesn’t hold you. It relies on cute song lyrics, the poke-fun at cheesy has-been musicians moments, and the dry wit of Hugh Grant’s English humour. And that’s about it. There’s no connection between Alex and Sophie the way the director wants you to believe – yes, there’s sort of a playful banter going on between them, and yes, there’s an underlying hint of flirtation going on between them. But there’s no CHEMISTRY. You don’t feel drawn in, and you know it’s so damn cliche when you actually sit and wait for the two characters to kiss and sleep together, because that ultimate ‘romantic climax’ happens in every fracking romantic comedy known to mankind.

The music is.. ho-hum. Believe it or not, the theme song (no, not that atrocious “Pop” song) Way Back Into Love was written by the same guy who wrote That Thing You Do from the movie of the same name, Adam Schlesinger. I don’t think he’ll be getting any nominations for his mediocre composition here.

Apart from it’s mediocre performance, and so-so music and ho-hum storyline, I have a MAJOR gripe. Cora, the singer, appears in the finale at her show, stepping out of a large Buddha statue, dressed like a skank (very Britney), and gyrating with the back-up male dancers wearing monk robes. All this in front of the statue. If that’s not a complete insult to Buddhism, I don’t know what else is, but it was done with a very bad taste. The movie tries to redeem itself for its ignorance by having Hugh Grant/Alex Fletcher mention that Cora/Haley Bennett thought that the Dalai Lama was a real llama, so hence the ignorance at the usage of a religious statue in a concert.

I wish I could get that damn song out of my head. I’ll leave you with the music… and the lyrics…

I said I wasn’t gonna lose my head
But then PoP! goes my heart
I wasn’t gonna fall in love again
But then PoP! Goes my heart
And I just can’t let you go
I can’t lose this feeling
…..

Drew and Hugh

Drowmage rants : I want to put more pictures, but am too lazy to google them. Updates soon to come.

The Drowmage Rates this at : 3 Stars

Update : Here are the pictures – if you want to use them, email me and ask for permission, then I will check with the powers-that-be. I don’t operate this blog for profit, so I get nothing out of posting these pics and reviews here.

Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) looks a bit old and dry eh?

A scene with Sophie Fisher (Drew Barrymore)

Cora Corman (Haley Bennett)

Rhonda Fisher (Kristen Johnston)

Pop Goes the Weasel… I mean, My Heart….

Update 1st March: I don’t know why I even bothered, but seeing the amount of hits on this site from people just looking for the music video for “Pop! Goes My Heart”, well, here’s what I found on YouTube…

“Curse of the Golden Flower” Review – Curse of the Bouncing Boobs? December 29, 2006

Posted by drowmage in Curse of the Golden Flower, Movie Reviews.
3 comments

Review :

Let us make this easy. Do not, at any point, try to compare this movie to the likes of Yi Mou’s well-known movies in this country, such as “Hero” or “House of Flying Daggers”. With descriptions such as “promises to be Zhang Yi Mou’s most action-packed and biggest production to date”, I had expected dazzling fighting sequences and a compelling storyline that would perhaps rival that famous “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” from Oscar-winning director Ang Lee. Don’t hold your breathe though; “Curse of the Golden Flower” focuses more on being historically correct regarding the golden age in China during the later Tang Dynasty.

The movie is about the balance of power between the Emperor (Chow Yun Fatt), and his Empress (Gong Li), whom he took as his second wife when he was just a general in order to gain access to the throne. Their three sons are torn between family loyalty, that is, loyalty to the father figure and the Emperor; and loyalty to the stepmother and the Empress. Even more caught up in his emotions is the Crown Prince, who has been having an illicit affair with his stepmother while the Emperor was away. As the days progress, so does the plot to overthrow the Emperor and the final showdown begins at the hour of the Chong Yang Festival, when thousands of soldiers bearing the insignia of the golden chrysanthemum launches an attack on the palace.

I was extremely disappointed by Chow Yun Fatt’s performance as the Emperor of China. He didn’t seem to be very intimidating as the Emperor, even though the dialogue he was given, if delivered properly, would have sent chills down a person’s spine. The words were meant to reflect a cold-hearted Emperor who was so embedded in his cultural principles of family piety that he felt nothing for his Empress, so much so that he was willing to slowly poison her. The much-look-forward-to scene, where the Emperor is striking down his son with his golden belt, to show the cold heartedness of a great ruler who is a father figure, is cut out of the movie – leaving one feeling that they may have just chopped out the best scene ever. One for Censorship.

Gong Li has had amazing roles before, and as usual shines in her portrayal of the Empress. The Empress is caught in the political intricacies of the palace and a woman’s suppressed role in China during that era. At every hour of the day (a large hour, or shichen, according to the Chinese time measurement, is equivalent to our two-hour period, and was labelled according to the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac), she is brought a drink of strong liquid, prescribed by the Emperor which is meant to help her with her illness. However, she is fully aware that it is the drink itself which is the cause of the illness which grips her constantly. With this, her performance shines as she portrays the regal woman who, bound by tradition and the Emperor’s terrifying edict, cannot speak out against the plot to kill her and struggles with each cup of poison which she has to drink.

Jay Chou, as Prince Jai, seemed wooden at first in “Curse”, but as the movie progresses, so does his acting. There also exists a chemistry of sorts between his character and the Empress which transcends into the undying loyalty up until the end when he leads the coup d’etat against his father.

The movie is not without its plot twists and surprise moments, especially when the birth mother of the Emperor’s sons are revealed, and everything begins to unravel at the night of the Chong Yang Festival.

Instead of focusing so much on the surrounding architecture and interior design of the palace, Yi Mou should have also shown us the results of this opulence; the suffering folk and run-down villages who had to pay taxes for the royal family to live so grandly during China’s ‘golden age’. Perhaps then the message of the film might have been clearer; that the royal family, for all their external wealth, is no better in character than their farmers.

By the way, in the entire movie, you’ll notice that all the women have amazingly bouncy boobs, accentuated by the tight cloth wound around their chest to push them up and create an amazing cleavage. It’s hard to take note of the acting when Gong Li’s chest looks like it’s about to pop out.

The scene which had a huge impact symbolically, was when the palace square, littered with thousands of dead soldiers and filled with crushed chrysanthemum petals, were all swept away and replaced with new flowers by hundreds of loyal palace servants – as if nothing had ever happened. A powerful scene requiring no words, it reflects the sentiment of the current era; what we do know of history, is what the victor, and not the vanquished, puts in writing.

It’s a beautifully crafted movie, visually appealing, and for the historians, something to feast your eyes on as China’s history is brought to life. But as the minutes pass, you come to realize that there isn’t much substance to the story. As the movie tagline quotes an old Chinese saying, “Gold and jade on the outside, rot and decay on the inside,” the movie’s beautiful exterior seems to hide the dull tarnish of the supposed action-packed plot.

The Drowmage Rates this at : The Drowmage's Movie Ratings

“Ultraviolet” doesn’t shine so well… December 20, 2006

Posted by drowmage in Movie Reviews.
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I’ve just finished watching “Ultraviolet”, and frack, it’s a stupid show. Sure, there’s impressive CGI, but for most parts it was so unfinished that it made “Cicakman” look like a shoo-in for the Oscars.

First off, the synopsis : “Ultraviolet” is set in a future where humans became infected with a highly contagious virus, called the human phague, which made them super-strong, super-fast, and super-regenerative (starting to sound like a broken record here), yet with a short life-span of 12 years from being infected. Because their teeth also grow to resemble fangs when they became infected, they were called ‘vampires’ and shunned by society.

Years later, most of them were wiped out by the virus or by the government’s “protection camps”, and we see Violet, played by Milla Jovovich, entering the government facility in order to intercept a case meant to be sent to a lab. When she is about to pass it to her colleague ‘vampires’, she opens it out of curiousity and finds out that it is a human boy (apparently in some dimensional stasis).

And she feels overwhelmed by the fact that they are about to kill a boy (since she lost her unborn child in the government labs), and goes ballistics, saving the boy, hoping that he held the cure to her survival.

The dialogue was so vague and ‘tarded. The plot was weak, and made little sense. Sure there was action, but there was nothing to make you believe that Violet’s actions were something that you needed to root for.

After a while, you begin to wonder just how many people can one woman face up against. In the first half and hour, the fight scenes are impressive. In the next half an hour, you get a feeling that it looks the same as the previous fights. And in the final part of the movie, you’d wish that they had planted a nuke in the building just so it would be over, darn it.

Milla Jovovich has acted in some impressive movies before, such as “Joan of Arc” and… well, er… “Joan of Arc”. Nothing else really comes to mind as she became the stereotypical female-video-game-action-hero in “Resident Evil” and “Resident Evil 2”, and wait! the soon to be released “Resident Evil 3”! In “Ultraviolet”, she delivers her lines without conviction, and makes you cringe with every cliche line that was delivered.

Come to think about it, she did pretty alright in “The Fifth Element” as Leeloo, but I refrain from saying anymore about the almost porno movie, “Return to the Blue Lagoon”, which was a sequel to the incest-like movie, “The Blue Lagoon” (starring the then 14-year-old Brooke Shields). Can you believe I saw these two movies on AXN Asia?

But I digress… back to the review.

The character Six, played by Cameron Bright, has the worst lines ever, saying things which would have definitely sounded more plausible if an older man were to say them. Pulling off his character with no conviction, you’d wish he had just kept quiet. I preferred it when he was portraying the character Leech, the mutant-neutralizer-boy in “X-Men 3”, who didn’t utter a single word and made Six look like a wooden shoe reading his lines.

The conclusion : “Ultraviolet” sunk lower than “Aeon Flux”. I begin to wish for the good old days where sci-fiction films revolved around movies like “Mad Max” and “Highlander”.

The Drowmage Rates this at : stars-1-5.gif