Wednesday, 18 April 2018

In Memory of R. Lee Ermey (1944-2018)

R. Lee Ermey (1944-2018)

Hello everyone, it’s been a while since I've done a news update on my blog. I’ve got sad news to tell you that R. Lee Ermey, a former U.S. marine and actor known for his iconic performance of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in ‘Full Metal Jacket’ and his distinctive, commanding voice as the leader of the plastic army men Sarge in the ‘Toy Story’ series has died from complications of pneumonia at the age of 74 on April 15th 2018. 

He was born Ronald Lee Ermey in Kansas and served in eleven years in the Marine Corps before spending fourteen months in Vietnam and then in Okinawa, Japan where he was promoted to staff sergeant. Ermey’s first appearance in film was in ‘The Boys in Company C’ and in the following year, he was in a uncredited role of a helicopter pilot in Francis Ford Coppola’s war epic ‘Apocalypse Now’ while working as a technical advisor on set. Ermey was originally brought on as a technical consultant on ‘Full Metal Jacket’ where he convinced Stanley Kubrick through an instructional tape to cast him as the profane, sadistic drill instructor, even allowing him to ad-lib 50% percent of his dialogue in the film. This resulted his performance being worthy and acclaimed in the film and has earned Ermey an Golden Globe nomination as Best Supporting Actor. 

Ermey was usually typecast in roles of authority figures in such films as ‘Mississippi Burning’, ‘Se7en’, ‘On Deadly Ground’, ‘Toy Soliders’, ‘Prefontaine’, ‘Fletch Lives’ and ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. Emery even lent his voice talents as Sarge in the animated feature ‘Toy Storyas well as it’s two sequels and his television appearances in ‘The Simpsons’, ‘Family Guy’, ‘SpongeBob Squarepants’, ‘Miami Vice’, ‘Kim Possible’, ‘Scrubs’, ‘The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy’, etc. In addition to that, he also hosted two documentary series on the History Channel and a reality show on the Outdoor Channel in America.

Thank you for your service, R. Lee Emery and may you rest in peace, sir!

Monday, 16 April 2018

Tomb Raider Review

Tomb Raider

Release Date: 15th March 2018 - Australia

Production Companies
Warner Bros. Pictures
Metro Goldwyn Mayer
GK Films

Roadshow Distribution

Genre: Action/Adventure

Rating: M

Runtime: 118 minutes

Budget: $90,000,000

Box Office Gross: $268,036,569 (Worldwide) (This figure may change as new editions earn more money and increase the overall value of the box office gross)

Plot Summary
When the fiercely independent Lara Croft finds herself on the island where her adventurer father disappeared, she must push herself beyond her limits.

Alicia Vikander - Lara Croft
Dominic West - Lord Richard Croft
Walton Goggins - Mathias Vogel
Daniel Wu - Lu Ren
Kristin Scott Thomas - Ana Miller
Derek Jacobi - Mr. Yaffe
Alexandre Willaume - Lieutenant
Hannah John-Kamen - Sophie
Nick Frost - Max
Antonio Aakeel - Nitin
Maisy De Freitas - Young Lara (7 years old)
Emily Carey - Young Lara (14 years old)

Director - Roar Uthaug
Story - Evan Daugherty
Story/Screenplay - Geneva Robertson-Dworet
Screenplay - Alastair Siddons
Executive Producers - Noah Hughes, Patrick McCormick and Denis O'Sullivan
Producer - Graham King
Production Designer - Gary Freeman
Costume Designer - Colleen Atwood
Co-Costume Designer - Timothy A. Wonsik
Cinematography - George
Stunt Coordinator - Mark Henson
Special Effects Supervisor - Max Poolman
Visual Effects Supervisor - Hubert Maston
Film Editors - Stuart Baird, Tom Harrison-Read and Michael Tronick
Music - Junkie XL

I’m so sorry for putting this blog into a three-week hiatus, I haven’t had time to think as I was too busy dealing with other projects as well as a portfolio and interview preparations. Remember when the early TOMB RAIDER movies were adapted into the big screen from its notable video game franchise and the first instalment was a smash hit and a career-defining moment for one of Hollywood’s contemporary leading actresses, Angelina Jolie. Now there’s a new cinematic interpretation that is said to have been inspired by the video games’ rebooted origin stories and takes a new spin into the iconic female character Lara Croft, into her new setting and personality. I’ve never played any of these games elsewhere but this new movie was much grittier and realistic and a bit of an improvement to its predecessors which were both subpar to everyone’s opinion. 

Most moviegoers have anticipated this picture and I just didn’t care how much has changed in the revised film adaption of TOMB RAIDER. I’m sure this new movie will go far and succeed as one of the few good movies to be based on a video game unlike each one that turns out to be lacklustre and has brought nothing new and exciting to the official game template. The adventurous feel is still there in TOMB RAIDER but the storyline feels like a cut-and-paste translation of other origin stories. I feel that it’s the filmmaker’s doing of trying to convene a gritty look in the picture. The action scenes are terrific and more interesting is how the film contains some decent effects as well as a splendid pace.

Angelina Jolie was the original actress that portrayed Lara Croft, she has now retired from playing the character and will be deeply missed. Alicia Vikander is nearly as terrific and seems to be enjoying her performance despite her own take of the female adventurer/archeologist being passable. It’s not hard to see and understand why she was chosen for that imperfect role since she was younger than her predecessor.

I believe the filmmakers have actually got some of the right aspects, even though it’s close to being the best video game movie adaptation. TOMB RAIDER is currently awaiting for its release in stores and online-streaming. I wish you all the best, if you give the movie a try.

Star rating: (7/10) Good Movie 

Monday, 19 March 2018

Black Panther Review

Black Panther

Release Date: 14th February 2018 - Australia 

Production Companies 
Marvel Studios
Marvel Entertainment

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Australia

Genre: Action

Rating: M

Runtime: 134 minutes

Budget: $200,000,000

Box Office Gross: $1,182,500,528 (Worldwide) (This figure may change as new editions earn more money and increase the overall value of the box office gross) 

Plot Summary
With his father having died, T’Challa is the new ruler of the advanced kingdom of Wakanda. As his alter ego Black Panther, he must defend his land from enemies both outside and inside the country.

Chadwick Boseman - T'Challa/Black Panther
Michael B. Jordan - Erik Killmonger
Lupita Nyong’o - Nakia
Danai Gurira - Okoye 
Martin Freeman - Everett K. Ross
Daniel Kaluuya - W’Kabi
Letitia Wright - Shuri 
Winston Duke - M’Daku
Sterling K. Brown - N’Jobu
Angela Bassett - Ramona
Forest Whitaker - Zuri
Andy Serkis - Ulysses Klaue 
Florence Kasumba - Ayo
John Kani - T’Chaka
David S. Lee - Limbani
Nabiyah Be - Linda
Atandwa Kani - Young T’Chaka
Ashton Tyler - Young T’Challa
Denzel Whitaker - Young Zuri
Sebastian Stan - Bucky Barnes (Cameo) (Uncredited)

Writer/Director - Ryan Coogler
Based on Comic/Executive Producer - Stan Lee
Based on Comic - Jack Kirby
Writer - Joe Robert Cole
Executive Producers - Victoria Alonso, Jeffrey Chernov, Louis D’Esposito and Nate Moore
Producer - Kevin Feige
Co-Producer - David J. Grant
Production Designer - Hannah Beachler
Costume Designer - Ruth E. Carter
Director of Photography - Rachel Morrison
Second Unit Director/Stunt Coordinator - Andy Gill
Stunt Coordinator - Jonathan Eusebio
Visual Effects Supervisors - Geoffrey Baumann, Stuart Lashley and Doug Spilatro 
Visual Effects Supervisor: ILM - Craig Hammack
Animation Supervisor: ILM - Matthew Cowie
Editors - Debbie Berman and Michael P. Shawver
Music - Ludwig Göransoon

Audiences and fans have quickly rejoiced for the Black Panther now he's got movie of his namesake thanks to Marvel, in its ongoing cinematic franchise. The Black Panther character made his screen debut in CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (click here) and Marvel has always had plans for a spin-off feature cementing Black Panther's transition from the comic-book world to the big screen. Many viewers have waited patiently for this movie until 2018 when it recently opened in cinemas. BLACK PANTHER precedes the upcoming AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR movie which will follow-up the former flick in a few months' time. 

For some reason, the BLACK PANTHER movie reminds me a bit of THE LION KING (click here) because it had a few of the mystical aspects that were integrated into its futuristic theme. The CGI was an absolute splendour and the city of Wakanda was incredibly detailed thanks to the many visual effect. The CGI artists have brought this production element to a whole new level of creativity. Director Ryan Coogler of CREED fame was involved in every aspect of making this feature and it’s not the first black superhero movie to receive a circle of widespread attention. Fewer films have tried that (with the semi-exception of BLADE) but none could even attain the positive response from its intended audience which Coogler's films have.

Having looked into CIVIL WAR, I wasn't able to mention the talent of Chadwick Boseman who is BLACK PANTHER’s eponymous hero when I first critiqued the previous film. He was absolutely terrific in his truly inspiring performance that made him a household name and he doesn't disappoint in this spin-off. Michael B. Jordan lands in a definitive portrayal as Killmonger; a would-be usurper who has gained a lot of empathy from fans and viewers about his troubled backstory. Among the all-star cast was Andy Serkis as the mercenary Ulysses Klaus, a role that he reprises from AGE OF ULTRON (click here). In BLACK PANTHER, Serkis' character is supposed to be the main villain but is instead bumped off by Jordan's standout role. Forest Whitaker and Lupita Nyong'o were also featured in this prominent feature.

I have enjoyed this movie sincerely as I did like the style and visuals, I appreciated that BLACK PANTHER didn’t go unnoticed for it was the worthy middle child of Phase 3 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This could be your last chance to go see the film in cinemas before all the session times end. It’s recommended to all fans of Marvel who were all strongly familiar with the character in reading its comics.

Star rating: (9/10) Excellent Movie 

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Review

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Release Date: 26th December 2017 - Australia 

Production Companies 
Columbia Pictures
Matt Tolmac Productions
Radar Pictures
Seven Bucks Productions

Sony Pictures Australia 

Genre: Adventure/Comedy

Rating: PG

Runtime: 111 minutes 

Budget: $110,000,000

Box Office Gross: $930,758,257 (Worldwide) (This figure may change as new editions earn more money and increase the overall value of the box office gross)

Plot Summary 
When four teenagers discover an old video game console they’ve never heard of, they are immediately thrust into the game’s jungle setting, via the bodies of their avatars. They’ll have to go on the most dangerous adventure of their lives, or they’ll be stuck in the game forever...
What they discover is that you don’t just play Jumanji –Jumanji plays you. 

Dwayne Johnson - Spencer
Kevin Hart - Fridge
Jack Black - Bethany
Karen Gillan - Martha
Nick Jonas - Alex
Alex Wolff - Young Spencer
Bobby Canavale - Van Pelt
Ser’Darius Blain - Fridge
Madison Iseman - Young Bethany
Morgan Turner - Young Martha
Rhys Darby - Nigel
William Tokarsky - Bread Vendor
Rohan Chand - Boy at Bazaar
Colin Hanks - Adult Alex (Uncredited)
Marc Evan Jackson - Principal Bentley
Sean Buxton - Alex’s Father/Jogger
Tim Matheson - Older Alex’s Father/Old Man Vreeke (Uncredited)
Missi Pyle - Coach Webb
Maribeth Monroe - Teacher

Executive Producer/Director - Jake Kasdan
Based on the Book "Jumanji"/Film "Jumanji" Screen Story - Chris Van Allsburg 
Based on the Film "Jumanji" Screen Story/Screenplay - Greg Taylor and Jim Strain
Based on the Film "Jumanji" Screenplay - Jonathan Hensleigh
Screen Story/Screenplay - Chris McKenna
Screenplay - Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg
and Jeff Pinkner
Executive Producers - Ted Field, Dany Garcia,
David B. Householter, Dwayne Johnson and
Mike Weber
Producers - William Teitler and Matt Tolmach
Co-Producers - Hiram Garcia and Melvin Mar
Production Designer - Owen Paterson
Costume Designer - Laura Dean Shannon
Director of Photography - Gyula Pados
Supervising Stunt Coordinator - Gary Hymes
Special Effects Supervisor - J.D. Schwalm
Visual Effects Supervisors - Chris Waegner
and Robert Winter
Editors - Steve Edwards and Mark Helfrich
Music - Henry Jackman

Most people would have seen the original 1995 film adaptation of JUMANJI as children and maybe understandably biased towards the latest release in the JUMANJI story. Having a movie that is supposedly a reboot could be distasteful for those who have read the book and grown up with the previous cinematic version. This would be especially so when this reboot has revolved around a video game instead of a board game. What is more, for some JUMANJI fans, the presence of actor Dwayne Johnson will not be able to save the film and live up to the standards of the late Robin Williams. However, I was surprised that this was in fact, an actual continuation of the original movie; not a senseless remake derived from pure egotism. WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE is a cleverly updated version that adds in a video-game/body switch premise. It's lighthearted tone proves to audiences that this sequel is actually entertaining to even the most nostalgic viewers.

 WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE's comedy was simply over-the-top but gets outrageously funny in a fast accelerated pace. The film delivers innuendos not suited for children under age 6 years. The cast was truly wonderful, with the four main actors Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillian out having fun with their performances as teenagers trapped in their avatar bodies. The comedian Black is even portraying a teenage girl in her male avatar which adds to the outrageous humour. It wouldn’t be the only time that Johnson has visited the genre when he did JOURNEY 2 (click here) years back. His macho persona hasn't prevented Johnson from handling the role way better than his ill-fated on-screen part in BAYWATCH.  Karen Gillian, in her movie stardom, was looking much brighter compared to her early years in DOCTOR WHO, she is very remarkable for her role. One of the younger Jonas Brothers gets a role as a pilot but is doing it okay and I liked Kevin Hart as the other source of  truly funny comic relief.

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE honours the dying wishes of Williams and is a literal game-changer. It eventually continues the lost spirit of the 1995 classic that has been buried in a pile somewhere beneath the family category. I readily recommend to all audiences not to miss this movie - or wait until it comes out on DVD and Blu-ray as well as online stream.

Star rating: (8/10) Very Good Movie

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Winners of the 90th Academy Awards

And The Oscar Goes To..... (90th Academy Award Winners)

In the last two weeks, I’ve been very busy and haven’t had time to publish any reviews or news updates, so I apologise for that. Now, without further ado, here are the winners of the 90th Academy Awards.

It was better than last year’s ceremony where there had been a huge mix-up with the envelope in announcing the winner for Best Picture. Thankfully this didn’t happen again in this ceremony! I was slightly disappointed that Dunkirk didn’t win for either Best Picture or Best Director. Then again, it would’ve been the proudest moment for Chris Nolan to receive this award instead of coming out empty-handed, without a little gold trophy.

Best Visual Effects
Blade Runner 2049 - John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover

Best Film Editing
Dunkirk - Lee Smith

Best Costume Design
Phantom Thread - Mark Bridges

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Darkest Hour - Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick

Best Cinematography
Blade Runner 2049 - Roger Deakins

Best Production Design
The Shape of Water - Production Design: Paul Denham Austerberry; Set Decoration: Shane Vieau 
and Jeff Melvin

Best Sound Mixing
Dunkirk - Mark Weingarten, Gregg Landaker and Gary A. Rizzo

Best Sound Editing
Dunkirk - Richard King and Alex Gibson

Best Original Song
"Remember Me" from Coco - Music and Lyrics by Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez

Best Original Score
The Shape of Water - Alexandre Desplat

Best Animated Short Film
Dear Basketball - Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant

Best Live Action Short Film
The Silent Child - Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton

Best Documentary - Short Subject
Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405 - Frank Stiefel

Best Documentary - Feature
Icarus - Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan

Best Foreign Language Film
A Fantastic Woman (Chile) in Spanish - Directed by Sebastián Lelio

Best Animated Feature Film
Coco - Lee Unkrich and Darin K. Anderson

Best Writing - Adapted Screenplay
Call Me by Your Name - James Ivory based on the novel by André Aciman

Best Writing - Original Screenplay
Get Out - Written by Jordan Peele

Best Supporting Actress
Allison Janney - I, Tonya as LaVona Golden

Best Supporting Actor
Sam Rockwell - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as Officer Jason Dixon

Best Actress
Frances McDormand - Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as Mildred Hayes

Best Actor
Gary Oldman - Darkest Hour as Winston Churchill

Best Director
Guillermo del Toro - The Shape of Water

Best Picture
The Shape of Water - Guillermo del Toro and J. Miles Dale

Academy Honorary Awards
Agnès Varda
Charles Burnett
Donald Sutherland 
Owen Roizman

Special Achievement Academy Award
Alejandro González Iñárritu for his virtual reality project Carne y Arena

Monday, 12 February 2018

Shane Review (Updated)


Release Date: 2nd October 1953 - Australia

Production Companies 
Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures Australia

Genre: Western

Rating: G

Runtime: 118 minutes

Budget: $3,100,000

Box Office Gross: $20,000,000 

Plot Summary
Enigmatic gunslinger Shane rides into a small Wyoming town with hopes of quietly settling down as a farmhand. Taking a job on homesteader Joe Starrett's farm, Shane is drawn into a battle between the townsfolk and ruthless cattle baron Rufus Ryker. Shane's growing attraction to Starrett's wife, Marian, and his fondness for their son Joey, who idolizes Shane, force Shane to realize that he must thwart Ryker's plan.

Alan Ladd - Shane
Jean Arthur - Marian Starrett
Van Heflin - Joe Starrett
Brandon deWilde - Joey Starrett
Emile Meyer - Rufus Ryker 
Jack Palance - Jack Wilson
Ben Johnson - Chris Calloway
Edgar Buchanan - Fred Lewis
Elisha Cook Jr. - Stonewall Torrey 
Douglas Spencer - Axel 'Swede' Shipstead
John Dierkes - Morgan Ryker 
Ellen Corby - Mrs. Liz Torrey 
Paul McVey - Sam Grafton
John Miller - Will Atkey - Bartender
Edith Evanson - Mrs. Shipstead
Leonard Strong - Ernie Wright
Ray Spiker - Axel Johnson - Homesteader
Janice Carroll - Susan Lewis
Martin Mason - Ed Howells
Helen Brown - Martha Lewis
Nancy Kulp - Mrs. Howells

Producer/Director - George Stevens
Based on the Novel - Jack Schaefer 
Screenplay - A.B. Guthrie Jr.
Additional Dialogue - Jack Sher
Art Directors - Hal Pereria and Walter H. Tyler
Costumes - Edith Head
Director of Photography - Loyal Griggs
Film Editors - William Hornbeck and Tom McAdoo
Music Score - Victor Young


1953 Academy Awards
Best Cinematography, Color - Loyal Griggs (Won)
Best Picture - George Stevens (Nominated)
Best Supporting Actor - Brandon deWilde (Nominated)
Best Supporting Actor - Jack Palance (Nominated)
Best Director - George Stevens (Nominated)
Best Screenplay - A.B. Guthrie Jr. (Nominated)

One of the great Western classics of the 20th century, SHANE was the byproduct of old-fashioned Hollywood. This was a commendable effort from all of the cast and crew including its director, the late George Stevens who worked around the clock to produce a film that definitely showcased the landscapes of the American frontier. Most importantly, it was certainly influential to movies in later years, such as the non-western flick LOGAN (click here), as well as being referenced in numerous times in pop culture. SHANE's ending is considered to be a moment of ambiguity where it could possibly rival every scene from other classic westerns, the likes of which don’t come off in the same mood of closing as SHANE did. 

Alan Ladd gave a well-deserved performance as the strong type of protagonist that shared the title of the movie. Jean Arthur in her last role as an actress was absolutely lovely as the gorgeous Marian whom the lead character is immediately attracted to. Jack Palance displays a sheer amount of menace and arrogance in his star-making role as the notorious hitman Jack Wilson. Brandon DeWilde was a child star when he gave his distinctive performance of the hero-worshipping young son who wishes to be the heroic gunslinger like Shane when he grows up. Although DeWilde went on to have a dozen mostly minor film roles after SHANE, his career was cut short by his untimely death in a fatal car crash at the age of 30.

I have nothing more to say about the other qualities that made SHANE great. I consider this film to be a great classic and one to be enjoyed by all ages. Even the modern viewers who were unfamiliar with this feature will definitely appreciate it, as their parents and grandparents have once seen the film and fondly remember it in their younger years.

Star rating: (8/10) Very Good Movie

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

500th Review!! Pitch Perfect 3

Pitch Perfect 3

Release Date: 1st January 2018 - Australia

Production Companies
Universal Pictures
Perfect World Pictures (in association with)
Gold Circle Films

Universal Pictures Australia

Genre: Comedy

Rating: M

Runtime: 93 minutes

Budget: $45,000,000

Box Office Gross: $182,640,310 (Worldwide) (This figure may change as new editions earn more money and increase the overall value of the box office gross)

Plot Summary
After the highs of winning the World Championships, the Bellas find themselves split apart and discovering there aren't job prospects for making music with your mouth. But when they get the chance to reunite for an overseas USO tour, this awesome group of nerds will come together to make some music -  and some questionable decisions - one last time.

Anna Kendrick - Beca
Rebel Wilson - Fat Amy
Hailee Steinfeld - Emily
Brittany Snow - Chloe
Anna Camp - Aubrey
Hana Mae Lee - Lily
Ester Dean - Cynthia Rose
Alexis Knapp - Stacie
Chrissie Fit - Flo
Kelley Jakle - Jessica
Shelley Regner - Ashley
Ruby Rose - Calamity
Andy Allo - Serenity
Venzella Joy - Charity
Hannah Fairlight - Veracity
John Lithgow - Fergus
Matt Lanter - Chicago
John Michael Higgins - John
Guy Burnet - Theo
Elizabeth Banks - Gail
DJ Khaled - Himself
Troy Ian Hall - Zeke
Jessica Chaffin - Evan
Moises Arias - Pimp-Lo
Derek Mehn - Sunburst
Kismet Collaco - Little Fat Amy
Michael Rose - Aubrey's Father
Trinidad James - Young Sparrow
D.J. Looney - DJ Dragon Nutz
Niko Nedyalkov - Mikhael

Director - Trish Sie
Based on Book - Mickey Rapkin
Story/Screenplay/Co-Producer - Kay Cannon
Screenplay - Mike White
Executive Producers - Jason Moore,
David Nicksay and Scott Niemeyer
Producers - Elizabeth Banks, Paul Brooks
and Max Handelman
Production Designer - Tony Corbett
Costume Designer - Salvador Perez Jr.
Director of Photography - Matthew Clark
Film Editors - Craig Alpert and Colin Patton
Score - Christopher Lennertz

This is it, everyone! This is the 500th review for my blog! Be sure to write any comments when you’re done looking at this milestone review. Meanwhile, I didn’t really care much for the PITCH PERFECT series so have not seen the first two installments about an all-female group of singers competing in musical conventions. This setting reminded me of a chorus group where my mum was one of the members and they all participate in acapella singing. There’s an equivalent of the fictional Barden Bellas convention in Australia where they compete to sing in America. Its called Sweet Adelines International. Though not quite revolutionary, PITCH PERFECT 3 did however convince me there are some surprises added to this sequel as rare bonuses. The humour is productive and funny and there is some unexpected action involved near end of the storyline.

The actors and actresses are doing great in keeping the plot of the sequel intact, especially because the old cast from the previous PITCH PERFECT movies are back in the spotlight. There is also terrific singing by the actresses in their cover songs. In fact,  I considered one of these covers to be the best and was instantly better than the original when it was performed in the film's climax.

Good but not great, PITCH PERFECT 3 is at least an entertaining film that was meant for the huge crowd. I could at least expect some more of the sequels of this kind when I re-watch it on home video. Happy 500!!

Star rating: (7/10) Good Movie