THE PROMISE (FILM REVIEW)

The 47-storey scalloped architectural project that is Sathorn Tower is like the Titanic. It was to be the tallest and most luxurious of buildings in Bangkok, commanding priceless views from its prime position. But Thailand’s financial crash in 1997, nicknamed the Tom Yum Goong Crisis, sunk the development and everything was brought to an abrupt…

CHINA’S VAN GOGHS (FILM REVIEW)

Made in China. The very line elicits derogatory reactions – cheap, fake, inferior. In the village of Dafen in the city of Shenzhen, one can say this rings true. In 1989, a Hong Kong businessman began turning hamlet into horde, with his peasants-turned-oil painters replicating masterpieces of the Western world for sale. He started with…

GEOSTORM (FILM REVIEW)

The worrying trend of climate change has provided fodder for big movies these last few years. From documentaries to epic disaster movies, the topic is a compelling one as we throw out many “what if” scenarios. Geostorm is the latest entry that places us in the future of a possible scenario, where we use tech…

MIDNIGHT RUNNERS (FILM REVIEW)

South Korea has been dishing out finely polished film productions in recent years, going big-scale from sets to budgets. It’s good to see someone in Asia carrying the torch in this region, as other giants like Hong Kong, China and India struggle to catch the wind in their filmmaking sails. Midnight Runners is South Korea’s…

KODOMO TSUKAI AKA INNOCENT CURSE (FILM REVIEW)

Children, can be creepy. With their beguiling ways and cherubic faces, they intensify horror when gurgle becomes growl and smile becomes sneer. This formula has kept classics going – think Children of the Corn or The Omen – and in Japan, director Takashi Shimiau has been terrifying audience with Toshio, the mewling boy from Juon….

THE TAG-ALONG 2 (FILM REVIEW)

It won awards for the two leads and topping The Conjuring, was also the highest grossing horror film in a decade for Taiwan. So it’s not surprising that the 2015 The Tag-Along spawns a sequel from director Cheng Wei Hao. The Tag Along 2 is more of the familiar, following the predecessor’s key devices but…

ZOMBIE FIGHTERS (FILM REVIEW)

There’s a slew of disposable films coming out these days. They tend to be offsprings from a successful title or copycat formula, and usually ends up a poorer cousin of the original. Zombie Fighters is director Poj Arnon’s latest installment and to reference the earlier metaphor, this would be a one-ply – it’s physically there…

MON MON MON MONSTERS (FILM REVIEW)

Right off the bat, acclaimed director Giddens Ko makes his statement – this is not like his 2011 hit You Are The Apple of My Eye. Mon Mon Mon Monsters may be set in a high-school, but bears nothing of the previous work’s whimsy or sentimentality. Instead, it asks the classic question – what makes…

WONDER BOY (FILM REVIEW)

Behind every song, there is an untold story – the liner of Wonder Boy promises. The inspired biopic film of our homegrown singer-composer Dick Lee sounded like a good idea during inception, but sadly ends up off-key. Benjamin Kheng is the 16-year-old Dick Lee, an outcasted musically-inclined boy who has a thing for composing his…

Wish Upon (Film Review)

It seems like horror films these days come more with cred tags than an actual tagline. You know, the sort that goes “by the makers/producers/director of Insidious/Conjuring/Annabelle”? Wish Upon is the latest entry, opting to put the combination of Director and Annabelle together to achieve that repute. The cursed wish box film certainly holds some…

Spiderman: Homecoming (Film Review)

Coming after the box office titan that is Wonder Woman, one can only imagine the pressure faced by the execs at Marvel and Sony. Especially after a string of reboots that were tepid at best. They have nothing to worry about with Spiderman: Homecoming. It is amazing. Just when superhero franchise fatigue is setting in,…

Wu Kong (Film Review)

Also known as Wu Kong Zhuan, this newest adaptation of the Monkey King’s adventure stems from the writings of an internet sensation by the name of Jin Hezai. The budding internet novelist burst into fame in 2000 with a version that layered modern-day ideas into the classic, in a more consumable tone. Think Young Adult…

The Wall (Film Review)

There’s two sides to every story. And The Wall tries to paint that by pitting an American Ranger against an Iraqi sniper in a tense 90-minute standoff in the desert, with titled wall between them. It’s 2007 and the Iraqi war has ended. Sergeants Shane Matthews (John Cena) and Allan Isaac (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are a…

The Mummy (Film Review)

Do you remember that game we played when we were young? The one where someone would start writing a paragraph of a story and pass it on to the next person to continue, but only letting them see the last line from that paragraph? After the last person finishes, the final tale that unfolds will…

Colossal (Film Review)

Gloria (Anne Hathaway) has fallen and can’t get up. The spunky online writer with a blunt haircut lost her job in New York and can’t muster enough self-worth to pursue another one. She proceeds to lose boyfriend and home, forcing her to escape to her parents’ unrented vacant house in her small hometown. This girl…

House Of The Disappeared (Film Review)

This might be the first time I’ve seen more ladies than men at a horror screening. I think the strapping Ok Taec Yeon had something to do with this. In House of the Disappeared, Mi-hee (Kim Yunjin) returns to house arrest after a 25-year jail-term sentence for murdering her husband and, presumably, her missing son….

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Film Review)

King Arthur is a name that launches a thousand myths. Excalibur. Camelot. Merlin. The knights of the round table. Avalon. The symbols that have been spun around a very real British leader in the 5th-6th century became one of England’s most beloved legend. In steps 21st-century director Guy Ritchie. The gutsy talent’s search for a…

Alien: Covenant (Film Review)

I never considered myself a purist. But Ridley Scott might make one of me yet. Director Scott’s Prometheus began a journey into an origin story, effectively transforming the word universe from noun to concept. Although panned by some fans wanting their high-thrill monsters and less rhetoric, the first prequel was not only a box-office success,…

Siam Square (Film Review)

What is busiest during the day, usually morphs into the creepiest at night. And so with Siam Square, Phairat Khumwan conjures an urban legend of a missing girl who haunts the grounds at night, forever searching for her way out. I’m sure there’s a big life lesson here, ending with a big, “moral of the…

29 + 1 (Film Review)

Age milestones, like the annual New Year event, have a profound effect on human beings. Somewhere along the way, they have warped from celebrations to stressful introspective checkpoints. “What have I done with my life so far?” one asks of themselves. No one is feeling this more keenly than Christy Lam (Chrissie Chau), a high-flying…

Going In Style (Film Review)

You’ve got Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Alan Arkin – something’s gotta work, we say. Unfortunately, even this trio of legends fall flat in Zach Braff’s Going In Style, going through the entire film like a dress rehearsal. It’s like that itch which you can’t really get to, or that sneeze that never came –…

Fabricated City (Film Review)

“If it wasn’t something new, I had no reason to come back,” proclaims Director Park Kwang-hyung on his latest film, Fabricated City. And admittedly, the classic story of a scapegoat turning tables on his offenders is getting a little predictable. After a decade-long break, Park injects enough ingenuity into his latest work to keep the…

Rings (Film Review)

Origin stories are coming fast and furious in the film industry these days, as studios milk successful classics for all their worth. Reboots, spin-offs – you name it, there’s one for all the major titles. Part of this movement has stories being expanded, and although this execution has proven successful for a few, it usually…

Hidden Figures (Film Review)

“Freedom is not asked. It’s demanded,” hisses the husband of Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae). In Hidden Figures, freedom is very much needed in segregationist Virginia, 1961. On top of fighting patriarchal battle-lines with condescending men, our trio of brainy mathematicians must fight racial discrimination as African-American women working in NASA. Taraji P. Henson is Katherine…

Before I Fall (Film Review)

Before I Fall is based on a Young Adults book written in 2010 by Lauren Oliver. It is also, quite frankly, not unlike a 100-minute ThoughtCatalog film. Audiences with a perchance for these two genres should find themselves suitably indulged, but others may find themselves polarised by the treatment. The film starts with a philosophical…

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (Film Review)

As with all franchises, words like final, ultimate and last become tools more for marketing than actual reflections of closure. Folks tell me that they intend to watch this film because “I want to see how it ends” or “I might as well finish it”. See how that works? Alice (Milla Jovovich) is back. Emerging…

Split (Film Review)

If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ll know the surprisingly clear premise of Split – the latest film from M. Night Shyamalan. A mysterious man kidnaps three girls and traps them in an unknown location. As they struggle to escape, it would seem that he has accomplices – except it turns out, “they” are him. It’s…

Master (Film Review)

The latest cat-and-mouse Master by director Cho Ui-seok is a formulaic crowd-pleaser. We enter the chess game between dogged detective and colourful villain in the middle of the set, but still get rewarded with the diet of car chases, double-crossing maneuvers, some gunfight, and an exotic locale – in this case, Manila, Philippines. The standard…

Age of Shadows (Film Review)

With super slick productions increasingly coming out from South Korea, one might say that the tides are turning towards the rise of Hallyu-wood. With sharp visualisations and even sharper jawlines, the attractive aesthetics of their resources are winning audiences over, especially when it comes with finesse for refreshing classic plots. Director Kim Jee-woon is one…

The Great Wall (Film Review)

The Great Wall of China – over 21,000 km of brick, stone and wood, is an undisputed impressive piece of work. It’s forbidding, inspiring, and a titan of a feat, being built upon the tragic backs of many forced into its construction. The passing of two thousand and three hundred years has taken away some…