Movie Review: The Hitman’s Bodyguard

I know what they say about actors having to be versatile in order to succeed in the long run; but I also believe that some actors are tailor-made for certain roles. Think Schwazzeneger as the iconic Terminator, or Sylvester Stallone as Rocky. You simply can’t imagine anyone else playing those characters.

For me, Ryan Reynolds found his niche when he played the sarcastic and punny Deadpool – and he seems to fit into this ‘snarky but cute and somehow likeable’ image well. He reprises this persona in his latest movie, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, co-starring Samuel L. Jackson. 

Synopsis 

Private bodyguard Michael Bryce (Reynolds) offers top notch protection services and has his star on the rise – all until a shot through a plane’s window kills a corrupt Japanese businessman he was protecting. Reduced to protecting druggie corporate executives, he blames his ex-girlfriend, Interpol agent Amelia Rousell, for allegedly leaking the info and getting his client killed.

Meanwhile, ruthless dictator of Belarus Vladislav Dukovich (Gary Oldman) is brought to trial for crimes against humanity at the International Court of Justice, but is on the verge of being let off due to lack of evidence and witnesses being killed on his orders. In a desperate attempt, the prosecution calls for notorious hitman Darius Kincaid (Jackson) to give testimony, with the promise that they will release his incarcerated wife Sonia. Rousell is assigned to escort Kincaid to The Hague to testify, but the convoy is ambushed and everyone killed except them. Realising that operations have been compromised and that there is a mole in Interpol, Rousell is forced to call Bryce for help. Initially Bryce is reluctant as he has had run-ins with Kincaid in the past, but ultimately agrees in exchange for the restoration of his good name. Hilarity and action ensue, as the mismatched pair attempt to escape pursuit and make it to court on time.

Verdict

One reviewer called the film ‘cartoonish’. It’s certainly OTT, but in a fun way. Kincaid and Bryce are like yin and yang – the former brash and impulsive with a wing-it attitude, the latter meticulous and likes having everything planned out to a tee. Their on-screen chemistry and jokes make for a barrel of laughs, and just about holds the rather cliche plot together. The story itself is very straightforward with no major twist and turns, but I do like some scenes that add depth to the character’s backstory: like the story of how Kincaid became a hitman and his notion of justice. There’s also plenty of good action scenes.

All in all, the bullets fly, blood is spilled, explosions aplenty and epic car/boat/bike chase through Amsterdam make for a fun summer blockbuster.

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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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

Movie Review: Sully

2009 seems like a long time ago,  but I remember it quite clearly – flipping open the newspaper to an extraordinary picture of a commercial airplane in the water, with passengers standing on its wings. The photo was that of US Airways Flight 1549, which struck a flock of geese shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia Airport, disabling both its engines. The captain, Chelsey Sullenberger, made a split second decision to land in the Hudson River instead of flying back to the airport. All 155 passengers on board survived with minor injuries, and Sullenberger was hailed as a national hero. For a couple of months, the story stayed fresh in my mind, but like everything else, slowly faded into the archives of memory.

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Until the autobiographical movie, Sully, came out.

Directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Tom Hanks, it chronicles the story of Captain Sullenberger and the US Airways 1549 flight crew, both during and after the crash. The incident is told through flashbacks as Hanks, who plays the pivotal role of the Captain extremely well, suffers from intense PTSD visions  in which he constantly sees a plane crashing, blurring the line between hallucinations and reality. He struggles to cope under the stress of an investigation by the National Transport Safety Board, which seems determined to pin the crash on pilot error.

I didn’t have expectations going in to watch the film, as I thought it was just another action movie. So when the film opening showed Sullenberger getting ready to face an inquiry (the crash had already happened), I was a little surprised. The movie itself is only one and a half hours long – very short in comparison to the three-hour hold-your-pee-in films Hollywood likes churning out these days – but it keeps you engaged and interested throughout.

We all know the ending to this story: the Captain saves everyone and emerges a hero. For many, knowing the ending ‘spoils’ the movie, but Eastwood still manages to keep the audience wanting to know what ‘comes next’. He is also extremely clever at playing with the timeline. For example, Sully is in a pub, listening to the news of the plane crash, when the scene transitions to vivid ‘recollection’ mode. Suddenly, he is back on the plane, and the engines have just shut down. The passengers are in a panic as Sully tells them to brace for impact. Just before hitting the water, the scene comes back to Sully at the bar, startled out of his reverie.

In an environment saturated with over-the-top action films, sequel after sequel after bloody sequel, and lame superhero comedies, Sully is a refreshing change, precisely because it returns to the classic ‘hero’ roots. Unlike the modern anti-heroes (Deadpool, for example), or bad-ass types, Sully is an old-world hero with a silent but powerful dignity, shown through his actions rather than words. When faced with the inquiry, he is calm and professional, despite the provocation he faces from the board. After landing, Sully is the last to leave the plane, ensuring everyone is safe before he exists. Eastwood employs the theme of good ol’ fashioned heroism to great effect.

Hanks is stoic and radiates a professional calm – the archetypal snowy-haired, kindly father figure – which only he can pull off so convincingly. Sully is not a ‘warrior’, he is an everyday man doing his everyday job, but in the process becomes a hero. You can see his anxiety at being thrown into the spotlight during interviews. You can see the relief flooding his face when he realizes all 155 passengers onboard are accounted for. Heroes are often invincible, capable of amazing feats, but in Sully’s case, it is this very human touch that makes the character, and the film, so relatable.

All in all, a great tribute to an amazing human being, whose quick thinking action saved the lives of many, including himself. 
Score: 9/10

Movie Review – Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I’m gonna risk offending the entire StarWars fandom by saying that I’m not a fan of the series (!!!). I only watched Revenge of the Sith on TV and that was many, many years ago.

So when the latest installment, The Force Awakens, came to theaters in Malaysia, I was initially ‘meh’ on watching it. But the hype has been so crazy, it’s hard not to get swept up in it. Everywhere I turned, there were StarWars related stuff, merchandise, ad promos, parodies.. and a whole bunch of other money-grubbing capitalist nonsense. There was even a black Stormtrooper roaming the streets of Kuala Lumpur, going about doing everyday Malaysian stuff – a photography project which caught the attention of the main news outlets here. You can read on that in this link.

Since all my friends were raving about how this was THE film of 2015, my interest was piqued. So I went to catch a late night movie yesterday with another equal StarWars un-fan. The movie house was packed for every show; we were lucky to get two seats as it is.

Synopsis: 

The story is set 30 years after the destruction of the 2nd Death Star. Luke Skywalker, the last Jedi, has disappeared. Now there’s a new baddie ala communist militia – the First Order, whose mission is to destroy the forces of Good and the Resistance. The good people need to look for Luke so that he can help in the fight against evil, but while carrying the map, resistance fighter Poe Dameron is accosted in the sandy planet of Jakku and leaves a tiny Wall-E-like robot, BB8 (which is damn cute, by the way!)  to somehow deliver the lost map to base. The droid is found by a scavenger called Rey.

Meanwhile, Stormtrooper Finn who was on his first mission to Jakku is appalled by the Order’s methods when they slaughter an entire village of innocent people. Disgusted, he helps Poe Dameron escape, but their ship crashes back into Jakku and Finn finds himself alone. He meets Rey the scavenger, and together they escape the Order’s airstrike by stealing a ship called the Millenium Falcon. StarWars fans will know that this is the ship captained by Han Solo, whom they later bump into (small Universe they live in, no?).

The rest of the film is a lot of action, light sabres, blaster guns and spaceships as the Resistance fights against the evil First Order, who wants to destroy everyone with a enormous Death-Star-like weapon called the StarKiller. Throw in some father-and-son issues with the villain, Kylo Ren, who happens to be Han Solo and Princess Leia’s child… and you have a blockbuster film set to rake in millions at the box office.

Verdict

Never having paid attention to the previous films, it was quite a confusing ride. I was particularly perplexed when the villain, Kylo Ren, called a mask of Darth Vader ‘grandfather’ (wait, what? I thought Luke Skywalker was his son.. so why is Han Solo his dad? I then realised Princess Leia was also Darth Vader’s kid. .__.”) The cinematography is superb: they spared no expense. The sweeping landscapes, detailed sets + vast and epileptic-inducing galactic battle scenes are on par. Story wise, it’s as good as it gets – young kid realises they have hidden potential and the Force, sets out with ragtag gang to defeat the forces of evil.. same old story but nicely packaged and shot. There is a small ‘twist’ at the end but nothing audiences didn’t see coming a mile away. 

Overall, it is a beautiful film with a solid storyline that is relatively understandable, even for non Star-Wars fans. For the fans, it’s the much awaited installment after a long time away from the galaxy far, far away.

8/10

 

 

Pappa Rich, IOI Boulevard Puchong

Went to watch Alice in Wonderland with the hubby at IOI Mall today 🙂

The movie was okay; I’d give it 3 out of 5, though I thought it was rather short (about 1h30m). But I did agree with the newspaper review that Johnny Depp’s mad hatter was more Emo than Mad. I think Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen was really good, she’s a superb actress. I adored Mrs Lovette in Sweeney Todd, which she portrayed as well. ^^
The film’s visuals were quite good, and I liked the music score. The story is a little slow paced though, at least for me.
I’ve never read Alice in Wonderland’s original story *gasp* so I couldn’t compare how it was between the movie and the book.
We had lunch at Sushi King and hubby ate three plates of Unagi (his fave) and I had salmon temaki.

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Walked around and bought four new Shin Chan books. Then we had tea at Pappa Rich @ IOI Boulevard, Puchong.

I like the ambience, but it’s really hot there as they don’t have air conditioning. The big rotating fan wasn’t enough; plus the food was REALLY pricey. Taufoofah was RM4.50 wtf.

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Soya milk with Cendol and Gula Melaka.

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Iced lemon tea.

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Hubby ordered the fish cakes as a snack. RM5.80. The chilli sauce was good.

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My otak-otak, served in a dimsum basket. The taste wasn’t bad, but not special either. It was also RM5+, and hte portion was so kicik mayung.

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Hubby’s half boiled eggs.
The total came to about RM26. ==”
I could have Western food at a cafe. So I’m not going back to Pappa Rich anytime soon. xD
Mum wanted to go to Kuala Gandah tomorrow to see the elephants in the reserve, but I had assignments to do, so I’ll probably be going next week. We can feed the elephants and bathe with them! Mum asked hubby to go, so I hope he can come along too.
Off to dinner now. Ciaoz!

Twilight: New Moon

Went to check out the new Twilight movie: New Moon with Charlie and Bel yesterday (and mummy used her student ID as a Touch N Go at the LRT bahaha! And she was wondering why the card wasn’t ‘working’ for a good minute before realising. She’s going to kill me for blogging about this).

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Well, I’m not a fan of Twilight, and neither have I read the books before. The only reason I went to watch was because of…

The Twilight Saga New Moon movie image Taylor Lautner

Taylor Lautner or Jacob the Werewolf. 😀 *drools*

In the second film, Jacob gets way more screen time than in the first movie. Edward decides that it’s too dangerous for him to be around Bella anymore and leaves her (The first 30 minutes of the movie before Jacob appeared was so boring, Bel and I were like, *yawns*).  Bella is stricken lovesick and goes a bit xiao and sees images of Edward whenever she does something dangerous and stupid, like jumping off a 100ft cliff or crashing her motorbike (in which Jacob takes off his shirt and reveals his super hot abs).

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The rest of the movie is about her finding out that Jacob is a werewolf. Wow, how lucky can a girl be? Caught between a werewolf and a vampire. It is also about her being suicidal, and treating Jacob like a safety bubble to hang on to while moaning and feeling sorry for herself over Edward dumping her. It was kind of frustrating to watch – not that Kristen Stewart had any acting chops to begin with.

Me, I would have picked Jacob and his hot abs/cute smile and gotten it over with!

I know she’ll eventually end up with Edward and turn into a vampire anyway, but I’m still on team Jacob. Which side are you on?

Overall, the movie was slow at the beginning and it only got a little interesting at the end.

But it’s worth it just to watch the countless times Jacob takes off his shirt. 😀