Movie Review: Stephen King’s The Dark Tower

Every time anything with Stephen King’s name stamp on it comes out, I get super excited (He is, after all, one of my favourite authors!), so I was super psyched to watch The Dark Tower movie.

As a self-professed King fan, I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read any of the Dark Tower books in his behemoth 7-titled series – but only because it was hard to find earlier titles in bookstores, and I didn’t want to start in the middle. This was a blessing in disguise. I went in to the movie with only the tiniest notion of what the books were about (a gunslinger in a fantasy world where forces are out to destroy The Dark Tower, which links all the worlds together), so I had none of the ‘baggage’ or expectations of a reader. And guess what? I liked the film, despite its abysmal 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Maybe it would have been different if I had read it (case in point: The Hobbit – which Hollywood utterly destroyed) but I thought it was a nice, solid film with good casting and a well balanced dose of action.

Synopsis:

11-year-old New Yorker Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) has recurring dreams of a Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), who forces children with psychic powers to channel their energy into destroying a Dark Tower. He is aided by monsters, dressed in human skin suits. There is also a gunslinger who opposes him.

Jake’s visions coincide with increasingly frequent earthquakes in the city. When he relates these to his mother, stepfather and psychiatrists, they dismiss it as trauma from his father’s recent death. His stepfather, who wants him out of the house, eventually convinces Jake’s mother to send the boy away to a hospital – but when the alleged facility people come to take him away, he recognises them as the monsters from his dreams because of the seams under their necks. Fleeing, he eventually locates an abandoned house from one of his visions and discovers a portal, where he travels to a parallel dimension dubbed the Mid-World. There, he encounters the Gunslinger Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), the last of his kind from a line of medieval knights, sworn to protect the Tower. Roland is seeking the Man in Black, Walter, as revenge for killing his father who was also a gunslinger. Jake learns that the Tower is all that is protecting the universe from ‘outside’ monsters, hell bent on invading and destroying reality as we know it – and that the Man in Black wants to let them in by harvesting the powers of psychic children.

Meanwhile, Walter investigates Jake’s escape and the portal breach; coming to the conclusion that Jake’s psychic powers are far beyond anything that they have seen so far. And so the hunt for Jake begins… can Roland protect him and save the world?

Verdict 

I don’t know why there’s so much hate for the film. Maybe I have low standards (?) but I quite liked it. Of course, it’s not mind-blowingly good, but with a run-time of only 96 minutes, it was short, sweet and entertaining. The Independent called it ‘wildly unfaithful and simplistic to fans of King’s books’. Maybe so, but how do you condense a mammoth 7 books into one short film? Even Peter Jackson had to stretch out the Hobbit into a trilogy. I felt that Nikolai Arcel did a pretty decent job, considering.

The plot is simple enough that newbies should be able to understand without having to read an encyclopedia of King lore, and the cast is stellar. If nothing else, critics all agree that Idris Elba makes an excellent Roland. His world-weary portrayal of a Gunslinger who has lost his way and purpose, only to find it again through an optimistic, never-say-die young boy, is inspiring. Elba is effortlessly cool and scenes where he draws his gun and shoots baddies are awesome. I especially liked the Gunslinger’s Oath (which, in my mind, when recited by anyone else would appear almost cheesy and comical).

Jake is also very likeable; coming across as courageous and quick-witted. Some critics have panned the way the movie focuses on Jake more than the Gunslinger, but I felt it was a good way to build up the story without taking away from Roland’s role. Action sequences are choreographed well, and I enjoyed picking out the little Easter eggs from King’s other novels throughout the film.

The weakest link among the cast is, sadly, The Man in Black. Matthew McConaughey’s slick, snakeskin-oil salesman persona lacks real menace, and for a sorcerer who can make others stop breathing with just a few words, he seems rather mild and tame compared to some truly disturbing villains.

While I wouldn’t say it’s a great film, I felt it wasn’t as awful as critics made it out to be. Definitely watchable, especially on a lazy weekend.

Score: 7/10.

 

 

Movie Review: Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets

Ever since I saw the trailer for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets last year, I’ve been waiting to watch it coz it looked so visually enticing. The movie is based on the best selling French comic series, Valerian and Laurellin, and is directed by Luc Besson (of Fifth Element fame). According to interviews, Besson had originally wanted to create this film rather than Fifth Element (now a cult favourite – and one of my favourite movies too :)) but he was only able to realise his dream recently. It is crowd sourced and funded by Besson himself at a budget of 200mil, making it the most expensive ‘independent’ movie in French history. You can definitely feel the Fifth Element vibe in this film though, just from the trailer:

Synopsis 

It’s the 28th century, and top space agents Valerian (Dane de Haan) and Laurellin (Cara Delevingne) are working for the police force atop the Alpha, a human-built space station that is now home to millions of creatures from different planets, who live in harmony and exchange their knowledge and cultures. While out on a mission, Valerian has a dream of a peaceful humanoid race living on a tropical paradise, where they fish for energy pearls and use animals called ‘converters’ to duplicate them – before everything is destroyed by falling debris from the sky, and he is jolted awake.

The pair travel to a marketplace, where their mission is to retrieve a package from a black market dealer. The package turns out to be the converter Valerian had dreamnt of, and the customers in the deal are two of the mysterious humanoid race. After escaping from the dealer’s pursuit, they return to the Alpha, where they are told by Commander Fillit that part of the station has been infected by an unknown radioactive force, with no troops returning and the infection spreading. The two are assigned to protect the commander, but before the mission can continue the room is stormed by the humanoids, who kidnap the Commander.

Who are the mysterious humanoids, and what do they want? How is it related to Valerian’s dream, and why is the converter they are carrying, the last of its kind, so important? Our top agents set off through a series of adventures across the massive space station to find out…

Verdict 

Many reviewers have bashed Valerian, saying that the story is shallow and the acting wooden. I agree to some extent – but that’s not what i was expecting when I bought my ticket. I was expecting explosions, space action, colourful-looking aliens – and the movie delivers with aplomb. It is such a joy to behold the wonderful characters and the world that is Valerian’s; it’s like entering an exotic land for the first time to a sight and sound sensory overload. The story itself loses focus as it steamrolls to the end, but I felt that certain characters were developed well – just not our two main protagonists. The Pearl race(the humanoids), have an interesting backstory, and they’re extremely pretty to look at (the wonders of CGI). Even Rihanna, who plays Bubbles, a shapeshifter, has some golden moments, and the General who leads the team after the Commander’s kidnapping was also stellar in his performance.

The weakest link in the whole film were its two ‘heroes’ – Valerian and Laurellin. Which is ironic, seeing that the whole film was to be based around them. Perhaps Besson wanted to remain true to the love story between the two, but DeHaan and Delevingne have absolutely zero chemistry between them and the supposedly romantic/lovey-dovey conversations felt forced and emotionless. Delevingne, despite having starred as Enchantress in Suicide Squad, seemed not to have improved in the acting field. There was a comment that said the two looked like siblings, which was totally true. It felt incest-ual somehow lol.

No doubt Valerian falls short of Besson’s sci-fi piece de resistance, Fifth Element, but it has just enough of special effects and mindblowing scenes to carry its own. Years down the road, it might even become a cult favourite! We shall see.

Rating: storywise/acting, 4/10, visuals: 10/10. Average score: 6.5/10.

 

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Movie Review – Spiderman: Homecoming

Captain America and the Gang may have protected the Earth from alien invasions, but it’s Spiderman that has always been my favourite superhero. If you’re getting mugged in a dark alleyway by a hoodlum, it won’t  be IronMan flying down from the sky to save you – it’s going to be Spidey swinging from his webs. I like how he looks out for the ‘little guys’ – his tagline is, after all, ‘Your Friendly Neighbourhood Spiderman’ – a true working class hero who prowls the streets protecting its citizens while the ‘big boys’ are busy defending the universe.

Following Hollywood’s tradition of milking the shit out of a franchise, there’s a brand new Spiderman, and it tells the story of Peter Parker in his teenage years. I went in with no expectations. After all, the Amazing Spiderman 2 just showed 3 years ago, and here they were ‘rebooting’ it already.. how many times can a story be told?

Well… needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised because Spiderman: Homecoming is one of the better superhero movies to come out in a long time.

Synopsis: 

The film opens with Adrian Toomes and his salvaging crew cleaning up the scene after the Battle of New York (from the last Avengers movie), before they are unceremoniously laid off by Tony Stark’s US Department of Damage Control. Angry at being driven out of business, Toomes convinces his colleagues to keep the alien technology they found on site to create advanced weapons and sell them on the black market.

Fast forward eight years and 15-year-old Peter Parker is drafted into the Avengers by Tony Stark, in a sort of ‘internship’ programme. However, he is told that he isn’t ready to be an Avenger and resumes his classes in high school. Frustrated and eager to prove his worth, Peter sneaks out nightly to perform crime fighting duties. He becomes disinterested in studies, believing he is destined for greater things, and drops out of his school Decathlon team in order to have more time as Spiderman. Coming home from his daily rounds, he is accidentally discovered by his best friend Ned, revealing his identity.

One night while attempting to stop what he thought was a regular ATM robbery, Peter runs into goons using high weapon tech sold by Toomes, which destroys a sandwich store across the road. He attempts to call up his superior at the Stark Company, Happy, but is dismissed. Determined to show he is ready to be ‘treated like an adult’, Peter and Ned try to get to the bottom of the mystery. Interrupting a weapons deal with a local thug, Peter confronts two of Toome’s associates, culminating in a high speed chase in which he nearly drowns after Toomes in his Vulture suit drops him into a lake. He is saved by Stark, who warns him to stay out of trouble.

Of course, like any teenager, Peter does just the opposite…

Verdict 

Finally, a superhero movie that’s not just mindless explosions and special effects!

Spiderman: Homecoming follows a tried-and-tested plot of a young hero who discovers the meaning of maturity and destiny. Aside from being a superhero film about good vs evil, it also plays out like a good high school drama, as Peter takes on all the issues teens go through: bullying, crushing on girls, math quizzes, rejection and a good dose of angst. The film takes time to flesh out the characters and set up the scene for the final showdown.

I think one of the most endearing things about the Peter Parker character is that he’s a giant nerd and the underdog, so we can’t help but cheer for him. Actor Tom Holland is an exceptional Peter, capturing the essence of a headstrong, rebellious youth trying to find his way in life, to make a mark in the world. His on-screen chemistry with almost all the other actors are on point, creating very believable interactions. Speaking of actors, this is one of the most diverse Spiderman movies – just look at the Decathlon team!

Another great development is Toomes, aka the Vulture. While other super villains seem hell bent on world domination or revenge, the motivations behind Toomes’ actions are more relatable to ordinary audiences. If Peter Parker is a working class hero, then Toomes is a working class villain – driven to a corner by the higher-ups and authority, he resorts to a life of crime in order to provide for his family, and will not hesitate to kill in order to protect them.

Some might say that Spiderman: Homecoming has a straightforward, ‘simplistic’ plot, but it’s good-natured and pays tribute to the early days of the character – just a young man trying to do good in whatever way he can. It doesn’t try to be what it isn’t, or distill over 50 years of history into a single 2-hour + movie, and that, in my opinion, is what makes it tick.

Score: 7.5/10 

 

 

 

 

 

Movie Review: Power Rangers 2017

Few things evoke a 90s kid’ sense of nostalgia more than Power Rangers.

I can’t be the only one who sat religiously in front of the TV on Saturday mornings, waiting for the iconic theme song to come on. My favourite scene always involved the Zords combining into Megazord and bashing up bad guys. At grade school, being a fan of Power Rangers (along with such series as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dragonball and Sailormoon) was the height of cool, and we constantly snuck in stickers, cards and collectibles into our bags, to be swapped during recess. When my dad got a console, we got The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie game, which I’d play for hours on end (always picking Aisha, the yellow ranger, or Kimberley, the pink ranger – coz girl power, right?).

When tweenhood came and I started fan-girling about other stuff, I stopped watching the series. Over the years, I’ve not had much chance to think about the show and the joy it used to bring my brother and I as children. Until I saw the 2017 trailer at the theatre a couple of months back. It looked completely different from the shows I used to know – darker, cooler, more in tune with a modern generation – a far cry from my memory of silly, over-the-top villains and spandex costumes. When it starting showing at theatres, I went with S to watch it. Going in with zero expectations (we all know how reboots can be these days), I was pleasantly surprised by the movie’s plot, quality and character development.

Synopsis

The film opens with the Power Rangers, a group of alien warriors, on Prehistoric Earth. Betrayed and defeated by their ex-team mate the Green Ranger (aka Rita Repulsa), the Red Ranger Zordon, takes all of the Rangers’ power source – the Power Coins – and hides them before ordering his robot assistant Alpha 5 to send a meteor onto Earth: killing him and sending Rita to the bottom of the sea.

Fast forward to modern day Angel Grove, football star Jason is thrown off the team and placed under house arrest after a failed prank. He is sent to detention, where he meets ‘misfits’ – the autistic Billy and the cheerleader Kimberley. Jason and Billy explore an abandoned gold mine, where the latter detonates explosives to destroy some rock, attracting the attention of Kimberley (who was diving nearby) and fellow students Trini and Zack.

They find the Power Coins, but the blast has also attracted the local police, so they make their getaway – speeding towards a train track where their vehicle is totaled by a train. Despite the accident, all five wake up in their homes the next day with no memory of what transpired after, and with strange powers. Seeking answers, they return to the mine where they find an ancient spaceship and meet Alpha 5 and Zordon’s consciousness. Zordon tells them about the original Rangers, and how Rita has been awaken after being fished out from sea by a trawler. He warns that she will recreate her monster, Goldar and seek the Earth’s Zeo crystal, which she can use to control planets. If she succeeds, all life on earth would die.

The teens train but are unable to morph. Frustrated, they fight against each other, and the group seems to be in disarray. With time running short, will they be able to defeat Rita Repulsa and save the world?

Verdict 

The movie seriously surprised me. While the plot was rather cliche (misfits find newfound powers, train, bond with each other, get over their weaknesses and become superheroes), the new ‘modern’ take on a well-loved franchise brought with it a breath of fresh air – prepping it for a new generation whilst still satisfying the older one’s sense of childhood nostalgia. The movie dedicated a big chunk to developing the characters, whom are not only racially diverse but also culturally inclusive, and they pulled off the messages without being condescending. For those looking for OTT action scenes, you won’t find them much in this film – except the ‘climax’ where our heroes battle it out with the baddie. All in all, I’d rate it a respectable 7.5/`10.

Now excuse me, I’m going to go listen to the theme song.

Go, Go Power Rangers!

 

Movie Review – Hidden Figures

There are two things that prompt me to write a review immediately after watching a film. Either it’s so terrible/bad I feel impelled to warn others not to waste their money on time or it, or it’s so good that it becomes a duty to share its brilliance.

Thankfully, Hidden Figures is the latter. It is, in my opinion, one of the best films this year – with an actual, inspiring story instead of the insipid garbage Hollywood has been churning out lately (sequels, more superheroes, etc.) Based on a true story, the film highlights the lives of three African-American women working at NASA during the Space Race, and who changed the course of history.

Synopsis: 

It is 1960s America and and the country is competing with Russia in the Space Race, to send the first human being into orbit. At a time where ‘coloured’ groups are fighting for equal rights to live in an integrated society, where ‘whites’ and ‘coloured’ facilities are segregated, the irony is not lost on the audience.

Enter three friends – mathematician Katherine Goble (Taraji P.Henson), unofficial supervisor Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and aspiring engineer Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae) – African American women working at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The women worked as ‘computers’ in a segregated division of the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, where they did calculations (this was before the computers we use today were invented).

Following a successful Russian satellite launch and increasing pressure to send American astronauts into space, Katherine is roped in to help the Space Task Group, under the direction of Al Harrison. She becomes the first ‘coloured’ woman on the team. If anyone has ever felt out of place somewhere, they can surely relate to Katherine’s first entrance into the office – her white, male colleagues staring at her like a freak show as she makes her way to her desk.

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Aside from dealing with her hostile new colleagues, who are dismissive and demeaning (especially head engineer Paul Stafford), she is also a victim of the era’s racism – after attempting to pour water for her coffee at the communal water dispenser, the next day, a separate pot emerges labelled ‘coloured’. There are also no coloured bathrooms in the new building, resulting in Katherine having to dash half a mile away to her old office in order to use the loo everyday. When director Al questions her, Katherine explodes (in an Oscar-worthy winning performance!), silencing the entire group as they hang their heads in shame, before she leaves with dignity. Back at her old office, Katherine is surprised when Al shows up with a sledge hammer, demolishing the ‘coloured’ bathroom signs and announcing that all toilets would just be toilets. He also allows her into meetings, despite Stafford’s protests. Her contributions enable the group to create an equation to guide the space capsule they were planning to launch into a safe re-entry point. Thanks to her abilities, her colleagues gradually accept her as a part of the team.

Meanwhile, Mary identifies a flaw in the experimental space capsule’s heat shields. Encouraged by her mentor, she decides to pursue an engineering degree and convinces the judge to grant her permission to attend night classes in an all-white school. She later goes on to become NASA’s first female African-American aeronautical engineer.

Dorothy learns of the impending installation of an IBM electronic computer that could replace her co-workers, so she secretly visits the computer room and starts the machine. She visits a public library, where the librarian scolds her for visiting the whites-only section, to borrow a book about Fortran. Another example of the racism in that era: when Dorothy tries to explain that the book she wanted was not available in the coloured section, the librarian says that ‘it’s just the way it is’. She ends up taking the book anyway (in your face, librarian!) and teaches her co-workers how to run the machine. She is officially promoted to supervise the Programming Department, becoming the first African American woman to be appointed as a supervisor.

An epilogue reveals where the three friends are later in life: Katherine married and went on to calculate the trajectories for Apollo 11 and Apollo 13 missions; and she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015. The Computational Research Facility at the Langley Research Center was renamed in her honour in 2016.

Verdict: 

After stuff like 50 Shades of Grey or chic flicks where women are either objectified or in constant need of being rescued, Hidden Figures was extremely refreshing and uplifting. The story highlights not just the struggles of being a woman in a male-dominated field/society, but also the challenges faced by the African-American community in a time where racism was rife (and is regressing, looking at world issues today). It is a story of persevering against all odds, of rising above them, and of being brave enough to make changes for the better.

While some events have been dramatized for the big screen and didn’t actually occur to the people the movie is based on, they were good examples of how the African-American community suffered for many years under a segregated, racist regime. The cast delivered superb performances, and I found myself rooting for them and almost clapping at some scenes. Taraji P Hensen’s heartfelt emotions when she yelled at Al practically radiated off the screen: we feel for her, having to put up with people who look down on her, having to work like a dog and spend time away from her family – all these emotions pent up and unleashed after reaching breaking point.

We also cheer for the inspiring successes our characters gain. Mary’s speech to the judge as to why she should be allowed to enrol in an all-white school was something that stuck with me.

“I plan on being an engineer at NASA, but I can’t do that without taking them classes at that all-white high school, and I can’t change the color of my skin. So I have no choice, but to be the first, which I can’t do without you, sir. Your honor, out of all the cases you gon hear today, which one is gon matter hundred years from now? Which one is gon make you the first?”

Other moments: The white supervisor, Mrs Mitchell, who constantly calls Dorothy by her first name, acknowledges her as ‘Mrs Vaughan’ by the end of the film, giving her due respect. Stafford, who at first insists Katherine only ‘type up the report’ and not add her own name to it, finally concedes, seeing as how she has been contributing to the programme.

In short, Hidden Figures is a must watch for its inspiring story, and I think it’s great that they are telling stories that matter, beyond entertainment value. To be honest, I had never known about Katherine and the African-American women at NASA, the first of their kind who paved the way for others to come after. In that sense, the movie title is apt – bringing these hidden figures and their important contributions, to light.

Score: 9/10. 

 

Movie Review – Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Has it really been 15 years since the first Resident Evil movie? I’m convinced Milla Jovovich is a vampire, she never seems to age. 😀 While I’m not a big fan of the series, I have watched all the films online. So when I heard that the ‘final’ instalment of the series was out, I thought it fitting to go and catch it at the cinema.

Synopsis: 

The film kicks off with an origin story, of how the T-Virus came to be. Dr James Marcus, the original founder of Umbrella Corp, had a daughter who was dying of premature aging. To save her, he developed the virus to cure all diseases on Earth. Initially it seemed to work, but the side effects were soon apparent, turning people into zombies. Marcus’ business partner Dr Isaacs wanted to use it as a military weapon, but when Marcus refuses, the Dr murders him.

Fast forward to the future, Alice (Jovovich) emerges as the only survivor at humanity’s last stand at the now-ruined White House. Searching for survivors, the Red Queen (computer from the Hive, Umbrella’s headquarters) appears and tells Alice to return there because Umbrella Corp has developed an airborne antivirus which will kill all organisms infected by the T-Virus before wiping out the rest of humanity.

Alice races against time to get there, but is captured by Dr Isaacs. She escapes and bands with a group of survivors, including Claire Redfield, to get to the Hive. On the way there are various obstacles to get through, including mutated dogs, monsters and more zombies, as well as the pursuing Dr Isaacs. Upon their arrival, the Red Queen tells them that there is an antivirus, and reveals the reason she is helping them is to put a stop to Umbrella’s plans which was all along to wipe out humanity with an apocalypse while their top employees remain frozen in the facility, and emerge in a ‘cleansed’ world which they could rebuild in their image. It’s up to Alice and her pals to put a stop to Umbrella’s evil plans and end the virus once and for all.

Verdict

I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Final Chapter was a decent wrap-up, tying up some loose knots and ends of the story whilst delivering lots of action, guns and zombies. If you’re not familiar with the RE-universe, though, it can still be enjoyed as a regular action film. There are somethings that are overly cliche: too many jumpscares, for instance, and the usual ‘who dies next in Alice’s group’ plot, but the action sequences are well executed and there is some semblance of story. Still can’t live up to my favourite, the first RE, but it’s not a complete bomb. Fitting end to a franchise that hasn’t always been the best in terms of storytelling/logic, but still raked in lots of moolah all the same.

Score: 6/10 

 

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Movie Review: Disney’s Moana

 

I’m gonna get a lot of flak for this, but I think Frozen was one of the most overrated Disney films of all time. 

There, I said it. No doubt the fans will be calling for blood lol.

It wasn’t bad, but I just didn’t understand the whole hype surrounding it and how people were going on about how ‘original’ and fantastic it was. I asked a friend (who watched it five times! who watches a movie five times at the theatre?) why she liked it so much and her answer was that it was ‘different’ from the usual Disney films about being rescued by Prince Charmings – it was about ‘sisterly love’.

Er… nope. If you want to talk about ‘original’ Disney movies that have moved away from the mold, there was Atlantis, which remains, in my book, the best Disney animation ever. There was also the Emperor’s New Groove. But audiences back then weren’t prepared for something that wasn’t about Princesses and their Happily Ever Afters, since both those films didn’t do so well.

Giving credit where credit is due, Frozen did introduce a ‘new’ generation of moviegoers to more diversified story lines. Zootopia was a big success, and now we have Moana, which is set to repeat the steady pattern Disney has set for its future animations.

I wasn’t expecting much going to watch this film, but I left surprised and pleased, because this is easily one of the best animations that Disney has churned out in some time.

Synopsis: 

The story begins with a background legend – that of Te Fiti, an island goddess who created life and raised islands. Her heart powered these abilities, but it was stolen by the shape-shifting demigod Maui, who wanted to give it to humanity as a gift. When the stone was removed, darkness descended and Maui was attacked by a lava demon, Te Ka, causing the heart to be lost in the ocean along with his magical fishhook.

A thousand years later, we meet Moana, the daughter of a chieftain on the small Polynesian island of Motunui. She grows up in this beautiful, paradise-like place. Her village is a peaceful one, where everyone helps each other and all is provided for thanks to the island’s abundant resources. But Moana yearns for the sea and wants to see what lays beyond ‘the reef’, the horizontal line of ocean she often gazes wistfully at even as she readies herself to take over leadership of her community.

Moana seems resigned to her fate, until one day when the fish become scarce, vegetation starts to die and the coconuts begin to spoil. Moana suggests to go beyond the reef to get more fish, but her father angrily rejects her, saying it is the law of the elders. Moana’s mother reveals that the chief is afraid of the ocean as he lost his best friend to it when the pair attempted to sail beyond the reef.

Moana’s grandmother, Gramma Tala finds Moana dejected on the beach and reveals a hidden cave to her behind the island’s waterfall. There, she discovers a rig of canoes, which her ancestors had used when they were seafaring voyagers. Tala also gives Moana the heart of Te Fiti, which she has kept safe for her granddaughter ever since she was chosen by the ocean, and shows her that the darkness unleashed by Maui’s theft is now consuming the island.

Tala falls ill suddenly and with her dying breath, tells Moana to save her people. She departs in a sailboat to look for Maui so that he can restore the heart of Te Fiti. After braving a storm, she finally reaches an island where she finds the demigod, but he is reluctant to do what is asked of him, and constantly tries to trick her and steal the boat. Along the way, the pair encounter numerous obstacles, and eventually Maui agrees to help set the heart back in its place. What follows is an epic adventure – reclaiming Maui’s hook from a giant coconut crab in the realm of Monsters, Maui teaching Moana how to sail and navigate by stars, Moana encouraging the demigod to reacquaint himself with the powers of his magical hook. The two forge a close bond and face Te Ka, but during the fight, Maui is overpowered and damages his fish hook weapon, while the boat is thrown far out to sea. Fearing it would be broken forever, Maui abandons Moana and tells her that the ocean chose the wrong person to save her people…

Of course, this being a Disney movie, audiences should know what outcome to expect but I don’t want to spoil it further. XD

Thoughts: 

Disney has really put a lot of thought into creating the movie based on Polynesian culture, and this shows in the rich colours and textures, as well as the uplifting songs (sung in the Tokelauan language). The sweeping vistas of turquose waters and rolling green hills evokes a feeling of freedom and vivacity, which is synonymous with island life.

Moana’s character, torn between duty to her people and her yearning of her heart, is one that I feel many young people can relate to. Unlike many Disney ‘princesses’, she doesn’t have a love interest (even Anna in Frozen stuck to that, even though she did choose a commoner rather than someone of noble blood), in line with her image as a strong-willed, independent woman. Her interactions with Maui are hilarious, but it’s quite clear from the get go that this is a story about the titular character. One can’t help but marvel at the values of courage to follow your dreams that Moana embodies.

Here’s an interesting Buzzfeed article about the development of Moana: the original focused on Maui, and Moana was merely a secondary character out to rescue a love interest. But during research trips, the directors started focusing on the theme of Navigation instead. I’m glad they did, because it truly set Moana apart.

Verdict:

9/10. One of the better Disney films, and I’m including this to my favourites! 🙂

 

Piaget Style Icon – Jackie Kennedy

She was a media darling and one of the most photographed ladies in America in the 1960s. Even today, her influence resonates through in modern fashion and pop culture. She gave us the signature sleeveless A-line dresses, above the elbow gloves, low heel pumps, clean cut suits with skirt hem to the middle of the knee, and pillbox hats. I’m talking about Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy, First Lady, or Jackie as she is fondly known among the masses.

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Pablo Larrain’s latest feature film, Jackie, offers a new take on this well-loved American cultural and style icon. Starring Natalie Portman, the movie is a blend of fiction and nonfiction, an unflinching portrait of a woman in the public eye as the wife of one of America’s most well-known presidents, John F Kennedy. The story follows the last four days in Jackie’s life before the assassination of her husband.

The character is well known for her elegant fashion and accessories, including some fine time pieces. In the film, she will be wearing her original gold Piaget watch and other jewelry pieces. Here’s a look at the watch, re-released to coincide with the film:

 

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Featuring an oval jade dial set with diamonds and green tourmalines, the watch is fitted with a supple fabric-like bracelet made from gold mesh – highlighting the brand’s fine goldsmithing techniques and beautiful coloured stones. There are also two other versions, one in blue and other in red.

 

 

 

 

 

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The collection will be available for sale from January 2017 onwards.

piaget.com