The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (review)



Peter Parker faces one dilemma after another, and must find the clarity within himself to do the right thing. Unfortunately, even with the best intentions, he is sometimes faced with unpleasant outcomes. Learning to live with himself could prove far more difficult than fighting off his (almost comical) enemies.

Speaking of those enemies, what a bunch of characters. I almost felt sorry for them, seeing what turned them into the villains of the story. They kinda remind me of traumatized pets that turned feral, and have to be put down. It would have been easier to cheer for Spidey if he was fighting a truly evil foe (like King Joffrey from Game of Thrones). However, victim or not, Electro and the Green Goblin can’t be allowed to run around, hurting people, can they? The confrontations were classic Spider-man.

The plot, adapted from a comic book storyline, was pretty solid and should be familiar to long-time Spider-man fans. I would liken it to a Marvel comic book with pages of chick lit, philosophy and juvenile drama inserted in-between. That and several plot holes might turn off some viewers. Thank goodness there’s Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), who makes the movie so much more interesting, and makes the slower parts more palatable – even enjoyable. If anyone could keep Spidey one step ahead of his enemies (and himself), it is Gwen. (Sorry, MJ.)

It’s not for everyone, and some might feel short-changed by all the fluff in what they would otherwise expect to be a pure superhero movie. But if you can get past (or even enjoy) those “other” parts, then you might want to swing by your favorite cinema and give it a shot.


The Muppets: Most Wanted (review)


There is wit and humor and love and adventure in the latest Muppets movie, and if you at one time or another have ever been a lover or a dreamer, then you must see it.

It takes a special kind of magic to make adults and kids alike believe that a single mole can make a frog entirely unrecognizable – and the Muppets have this magic. It also takes a special kind of silliness to think that “Die Muppets” on a poster at a German theater reflects the public’s disappointment with their performance. They have that in spades, too.

You will never notice the time pass as Kermit, after being tricked by a sinister master-villain, uses everything he can to survive a Siberian gulag and its fearsome prisoners and jail guards, to be able to return to his friends and save, well… I can’t really give away too much.

From the Arctic (or Antarctic) to the desert and back, to a wedding with the most inconspicuous flower delivery guy and usher, there are plenty of reasons to watch this movie. Will the evil mastermind have his way, or will the Muppets’ friendship and dumb luck prevail in the end? I hope that, like the little kids who watched and laughed, you have faith enough to know the answer, and a sense of wonder enough to enjoy the ride.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (review)


I really like Steve Rogers. He is my favorite Avenger. A simple man with a simple view of life: “I’m always honest,” he finds it hard to live in a world where decisions are based on grey areas, where honesty and integrity are not always viewed as virtues, and where his closest friends sometimes pretend to know something they don’t, or not know something they do…

It’s this tension of opposites that makes life difficult for the Captain. He truly is a “man out of time” as Loki put it in the Avengers movie. He knows exactly who he is, and what he must do, but life makes it very difficult for him at times. The first movie, “The First Avenger”, was set in a time when things were simpler. It was easy to tell the bad guys from the good guys. Steve, the scrawny kid who hated bullies, fought against the enemy, protected his friends and loved ones, and no one questioned his values.

In The Winter Soldier, he is thrust into a world where people no longer say “good morning” to strangers in the elevator, where the good guys finish even farther behind, and where it’s far more difficult to know who your true friends are, let alone find someone to love. In any other movie, this plot device would have felt worn-out, but not for Captain America. In no other situation would his character be better exposed.

[This paragraph contains spoilers, so please skip if you haven’t seen the movie.] The appearance of an old friend was not really a surprise to me; he’s too important a character to simply eliminate. I had this feeling from the moment of his tragic “death” in the “The First Avenger”. For the same reason, I think the Red Skull will reappear in one of the future movies, but that’s anybody’s guess. The scene with Peggy was beautiful and satisfying, and made the movie all the richer. I was initially on the fence about Falcon, whom I thought was “Ironman lite”. However, as one of the few true friends of Captain A., and with some witty lines, he reinforces the movie quite nicely.
[End of spoilers]

And so I come to the conclusion. In the same way that The Dark Knight was more than just a superhero movie, The Winter Soldier rises above its genre and is a movie about character, values and conviction. I really wish Cap could find an easier way to live his life. Perhaps he’d be able to laugh more, crack more jokes (like Tony Stark), and take life a little less seriously (like SpongeBob). Perhaps he would get hurt a little less often. But then, it wouldn’t really be him anymore. And I’d like to believe that the world still needs people like Steve Rogers.

Even if you don’t agree with me or Steve, go watch the movie anyway. It was loads of fun. 🙂

PS. If I had to nitpick:
– Did he really have the time to go to the museum just to grab his old uniform, when the world as we know it was about to crash?
– The count-down timer as a means to convey tension at the end is getting really old. Please, think of something better next time.

Pacific Rim review (spoiler-free, but with some mild profanity. And apologies to Twilight fans..)


(Note: this was posted months ago on FB. I just thought I’d share it here, as it is still one of my favorite recent movies.)

My basic thoughts are: omg. How could something so cheesy on paper be so good on the big screen? The people who made this movie could probably remake Twilight and make it not suck.

Giant robots with human pilots fighting giant monsters (each one more badass than Godzilla), a leader who vows that “tonight, we are cancelling the apocalypse!”, uniforms that remind you of Power Rangers – I was prepared to roll my eyes, snicker and care little about the characters (like what I do during slasher flicks). But this movie.. was quite amazing.

It had a sense of fun too, with well-placed tongue-in-cheek moments similar to those seen in the Avengers, moments which are missing in Man of Steel, which I now rank below Pacific Rim. In the end, in spite of my grown up sensibilities, it made me want to believe again. In giant mechs, cute Japanese pilots, and saving humanity from the brink of destruction. It’s still showing. Go watch it.

300: Rise of an Empire review

300-rise-of-an-empire - medium

The most fun I had watching 300: Rise of an Empire was watching a friend try and figure out whether it was a sequel or prequel to 300. It was the story that ultimately let this movie down. If you want to know what it felt like watching this, read on.

I learned only today that Themistocles, the chief protagonist, was a real historical character (much like Saito of the Ishin Shishi who appears in several works of fiction). In the movie, however, he felt like a supporting character. I can’t quite decide whether Sullivan Stapleton was not up to the role, or if the material was just too bland for any actor to rescue. Either way, it took me at least halfway through the movie to realize, with a wry smile, that there wasn’t going to be any other major character involved. This was it.

Hope for something better was kindled whenever David Wenham (who played the one-eyed Spartan, Dilios) appeared, but this happened too few times, and the spaces in between felt almost like infinity. The same goes for Lena Headey (Queen Gorgo). In the end, it just felt like a sequel that was placed on the shoulders of lesser Greeks, at least in the field of battle. I might as well mention that the Persians looked less fearsome too, than in the original movie, as if commiserating with the audience on the absence of Spartans.

One can only hope that the upcoming Superman-Batman movie, to be directed by Zack Snyder (who wrote Rise of an Empire’s screenplay), will not follow a similar course. For now, as consolation, I’ll consider this as part of the price we pay for democracy.

Her (a movie review)

Her ()

What if your soulmate had a mind, but no body? Would you risk the hazards of such a relationship?

The premise is intriguing. If you couldn’t tell the difference between a real person and a computer program, would it really matter? After all, we humans are only here for a short time. Perhaps we should stop agonizing over petty details and, to borrow a memorable line, allow ourselves some joy.

But what is the price of such joy? While no one truly knows, Her certainly provokes thoughts, while tugging at the heart. Scarlett Johansson stars as the voice of Samantha, the OS who becomes self-aware and, despite having no body or soul in the traditional sense, inspires more emotional attachment from the audience than the cast of all Final Destination movies combined.

Joaquin Phoenix superbly plays the role of Theodore, the lonely man with an ironic job, who falls in love with Samantha. Amy Adams, in the supporting role of Amy, provides the subtle contrast between a real woman and a virtual one. Rooney Mara nicely rounds up the main characters as Catherine, the deeply flawed “perfect” wife that Theodore reluctantly divorced.

It’s as much a science fiction movie as it is a romantic one, and because it involves the infinite, is also spiritual (SexyKitten notwithstanding). I would recommend watching this with your Tamagochi, but if you don’t have one, human friends will do.

American Hustle review


It’s too late to recommend or warn against seeing, but since it still feels somewhat fresh in my memory, might as well write something.

American Hustle did not require me to pause the movie (which I couldn’t do at the cinema anyway) or watch it a second time, just to understand what the <cough> was happening. It was a simple movie, in that sense. And yet, how that little scene about a character’s hair held my attention tells something of the movie’s sophistication. Captivating, but subtle. There’s a time and place for James Bond and The A-Team, and then there’s one for movies like this.

Nor did it have frenetic action sequences or sense-numbing special effects. Yet it managed to evoke tension and discomfort (again, the operative word is “subtle”). The topics it covers are pretty serious, but there’s enough tongue-in-cheekiness to let viewers watch in lighter, popcorn mode. (In fact, my companions ate their free popcorn despite having no drink.) Some would call this a “dark comedy”, while others might say it’s a funny drama.

Either way, this is one hustle that’s worth your time.