Monday, 29 July 2013


Everyone has a list of their favourite movies. I personally keep a list of my Top 10 favourite movies of all-time, hand written, in a journal. Since technology is so advance now, I stored it on my hard disc. And since, I am new to blogging, why not store in online and on my blog.

I will also include links to Internet Movie Database and Wikipedia for plot details, production history, and crew credit list. WARNING! These links WILL have spoilers if you have not watched the films.

I am gonna share with all my readers my personal Top 10 favourite movies of all time. I will also touch on a little bit of information about the film. Of course, I will share with you as to why and how these movies have managed to capture my heart.


10. The Exorcist (1973) 


After a young suburban girl has been acting strangely in her house, her mother begins to realize that she is being possessed by an evil spirit. In seeking help, she turns to a priest who recently lost faith in God. As the priest undertakes the exorcism ritual, he begins to discover more than he bargain for.

In my opinion, and I am sure many will agree, this is the most scariest film ever produced. If you are a movie buff, this is a must watch! I have seen this film four times and it scares me every time, even when I watched it during the day when the sun is up.

For more info, click on IMDB and Wikipedia.

9. The Dark Knight (2008)

The sequel to Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins (2005) which pits the iconic comic book superhero against one of his iconic nemesis The Joker. In order to stop the notorious villain, he must make many sacrifices which will question the integrity of his noble intentions.

Dubbed as THE number one most favourite superhero film by many critics, the film places the comic book character as a person who is just as vulnerable as anyone of us. The movie grounds superhero films into the realities of today's world. Adding spice to the film is the unforgettable Oscar winning performance of the late Heath Ledger as The Joker. 

For more info, click on IMDB and Wikipedia.

8. Schindler's List (1993)

Based on a true story during World War 2 in Europe, the film highlights the mistreatment of the Jewish people by the Germans. Focused specifically on a concentration camp in Europe, the Jewish people were tortured by a ruthless military officer played by Ralph Fiennes. Enter a German businessman named Oskar Schindler who sympathizes for the Jews and uses all means necessary to rescue them from torture.

As the film is rooted in the sensitive subject of race and religion, this movie has a universal appeal. For me, it transcended my beliefs and became a film about true humanity. After a glittering career of box-office hits and critically acclaimed films, director Steven Spielberg finally won his first ever Academy Award for his efforts.

For more info, click on IMDB and Wikipedia.

7. Life is Beautiful (1997)

Another film which takes place during World War 2 but this time in Italy. This Italian language film traces the journey of a young Jewish man as he woos a beautiful woman and later gets married and has a son. When the war hit Italy, he attempts to escape the war with his son by disguising it as a game.

This is one of the sweetest films I have ever seen. It shows an undying love a father has for his son, creative imagination to shield his son from the horrors of war, and a mood so uplifting that it will make you smile. A war film that doesn't show much (maybe not at all) the atrocities of war. The film is directed by its lead actor Roberto Benigni.

For more info, click on IMDB and Wikipedia.

6. The Usual Suspects (1995)

After a yacht explodes at a harbor, two survivors of the incident recounts how the disaster happened. While one suffers severe burns and barely could talk, the other survivor recounts the events that led to the explosion. As told through the eyes of a criminal named Verbal Kint in flashbacks, he tells of a group of several other individuals who were involved and how the robbery gone bad was the work of a mysterious criminal mastermind.

A film that is told via a non-linear structure (in laments term, jumping here and there with flashbacks) is always difficult. However, from start to finish this film keeps the suspense escalating until it reaches an amazing ending which will keep you talking for years to come. The film draws the audience deep into the storyline and gets involved in the mystery plot with subtlety. The film was nominated for only two Academy Awards and won them both. This shows great strength in a film with a 100% success rate.

For more info, click on IMDB and Wikipedia.

5. Inception (2010)

A wealthy businessman, who is determined to bring down his rival, hires a group of highly trained professionals specializing in planting or extracting an idea into a person's subconscious mind while dreaming during sleep. Unknown to the group's leader Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his team, their mission was thwarted by unforeseen incidents within the subject's mind. At the same time, Cobb has to deal with past memories which is interfering in his mission.
As of 2013, this was the last great screenplay based on an original idea from Hollywood film-makers. The film implies the notion that one can enter the mind of a human and plant ideas to make them believe it is true. Like the film, the director and writer Christopher Nolan manages to implant the idea to the audience that the dream world is actually similar to true reality. The film immerses you so deep that you will start trying to solve certain clues contained in storyline. Once you have watched this film, it is guaranteed that you will get yourself talking about it.

For more info, click on IMDB and Wikipedia.

4. Avatar (2009)
In the far future, Earth has almost exhausted its natural resources. A group of military and scientist personnel journey to the planet Pandora to search for these resources, among them, a paraplegic Marine named Jake (Sam Worthington). Pandora is populated by the species called Na'vi and in order for humans to interact with them, human hybrids called 'avatar' are utilized. As Jake is transformed into an 'avatar', he discovers a world with many splendours on Pandora and establishes a friendship with the Na'vi people. However, his human collaborators has other plans and it is up to Jake to choose sides and fight.

This much anticipated film is the highest-grossing film of all time gaining more than $2 billion at the box-office. Director James Cameron shot the film entirely using 3D cameras and technology which resulted in plenty of delightful shots. Besides that, Cameron who also wrote the film, manages to tell a story which makes the film full of action, drama, and adventure. A movie long in duration and doesn't feel boring. Managed to transport me to a different world. Prior to Avatar, he made another film which is my next Top 10 entry.

For more info, click on IMDB and Wikipedia.
3. Titanic (1997)

Set against the backdrop of the true story of the Titanic sinking in 1912, the film tells the story of star-crossed lovers Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet) who meet on the passenger ship liner. They both encounter resistance from Rose's family and Jack tries hard to adapt to his new surroundings. However, unaware to them and the passengers on Titanic, the ship will meet a doomed fate dubbed by many as the worst disaster in history.

This film is a milestone from several aspects. Firstly, the special effects. The physical effects endured many challenges as director James Cameron insisted on building an actual ship close to scale. Secondly, the film is famous for going over-budget and critics dismissing the film as a failure even before it came to cinemas. This was proven wrong when the film grossed more than $2 billion worldwide at the box-office. Thirdly, a theme song titled 'My Heart Will Go On' which was composed by James Horner and sung by Celine Dion reached worldwide success. Why this film is number 3 on my list? It proves that big budget films, if told with heart, can make it big.

For more info, click on IMDB and Wikipedia.

2. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

A wrongfully accused banker is sent to prison allegedly for the murder of his wife and her lover. In prison, he befriends a fellow inmate who shows him the ropes of surviving. Over many years, he slowly earns the trust of inmates and guards but he has a secret determination only he has the key to solve it.

This film strikes the very soul of a human being. Its a movie about finding the brighter aspects of life despite being in a hopeless situation. For a heavy drama film, it doesn't feel boring. The climactic ending is not only touching but it also has a surprise outcome. This film is listed as number 1 in many top 10 lists around the world and I agree, this film is the BEST there is. I very highly recommend this movie and movie buffs should consider it a compulsory viewing requirement. It is even better than the film at number 1 on my list but why isn't it? Read on.

For more info, click on IMDB and Wikipedia.

1. Forrest Gump (1994)

The film traces the life story of a simpleton and slow-witted individual named Forrest Gump, from his adolescent years right up till adulthood. As he grew up, he manages to partake in important events in human history. At the same time, he struggles to hold down the love of his life, caring for his mother, and supporting friends who need him the most.

To me, this film has it all. In almost every scene, a positive human quality is highlighted. They encompassed such feelings as motivation, determination, and bravery.

I feel films which is number 1 in a top list of anyone should be a film that relates to what they experience in real life. For me, Forrest Gump was released when I was 18 years old and during that age, many changes and challenges happened to me which resulted in who I am today. This film taught me a lesson, pushed me to achieve goals and that is why it is number 1 on my Top 10 list of favourite films. 

For more info, click on IMDB and Wikipedia.

As you can see, the majority of films in my list are from the 1990s, the decade I grew up in. I won't be surprise if most of your favourite films are from the decade or decades you grew up in. There are many other amazing films out there from as early as the 20th century to present time. However, these films are my Top 10 because they had an impact in my personal life.

Friday, 26 July 2013


Marvel Comics has unleashed their second movie this summer based on their stable of comic book superheroes. Wolverine, famous for being part of the mutant band called X-Men, returns to the big screen again in The Wolverine which sees his character riding solo for the second time from his superhero friends. Wolverine is one of my favourite characters. I even had my hair done to resemble Wolverine's hairstyle. I will reveal the photo at the end of the review.

The Wolverine is a follow-up to the character's stand alone film after the success of X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009). It is without a doubt that Hugh Jackman would return to play Logan a.k.a. Wolverine. The film is now directed by James Mangold (Knight & Day, Walk The Line). The film co-stars Tao Okamoto, Haruhiko Yamanouchi, Hiroyuki Sanada, Rila Fukushima, Will Yun Lee, and Svetlana Khodchenkova.

As you can tell by the names of the actors, the film has a Japanese theme to it. In the world of Marvel Comics, Wolverine in Japan is one of the famous storylines among fans. But will the movie adaptation live up to it?

Hugh Jackman as Logan a.k.a. Wolverine

After the death of Jean Grey, Logan has gone into hiding and becomes a recluse. Lately, he has been experiencing nightmares about a past history in Japan. As he struggles to survive, a young Japanese woman shows up and request Logan to meet her master, an old friend of Logan. Once in Japan, Logan discovers an elaborate plot to destroy his old friend and works his way to protect his family.

Logan and Yukio (Rila Fukushima) arrives in Japan

Written by famous screenwriters Christopher McQuarrie, Mark Bomback, and Scott Frank, the film is quite a good adaptation of the superhero character. Somehow, it veers off by focusing too much on backstories. Good characterization for the main cast. Not too cheesy lines too. There were pretty good comedic moments though I felt there should be more.

The Wolverine and his claws

It is a Hugh Jackman film. Most of the scenes have him in it. He towers over the other actors (in terms of performance and height). The rest of the cast did okay with the exception of Hiroyuki Sanada who plays Shingen. The inclusion of a vixen didn't help boost the acting credibility.

Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper

Director James Mangold was never quite good in action films. His action-driven films such as Knight & Day and 3:10 to Yuma were flops. However, his dramatic-based films such as Walk The Line and Girl, Interrupted were very good. Mangold's direction is just okay at best. The action scenes were pretty lame and had minimal exciting moments. The visual effects was not too grand either.

Jackman and Sanada filming a scene

Good start, punchy and exciting. Very very slow in the middle and draggy. Great ending but I felt it could be better.

Superhero in action trying to make right of what went wrong and in the meantime, tries to rescue the damsel in distress.

Wolverine battles his enemies

Great script and great storyline but doesn't sustain long enough to keep the audience interested. Many unknown supporting characters.

Hugh Jackman improving his performance compared to the previous film. Nice comedy insertions and beautiful Japanese girls.

Japanese actress Rila Fukushima as Yukio

Yet another summer popcorn movie. Mildly entertaining but a good storyline. Do STAY for the middle of end-credits for an EXTRA scene that teases the next movie in the X-Men universe which is X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014). You won't want to miss it.

6.5 out of 10

My 'Wolverine' hair

Friday, 19 July 2013


A star-studded cast of who's who of Hollywood is assembled for RED 2, a sequel to the 2010 film RED. The word RED stands for Retired and Extremely Dangerous. It consists of a group of veteran convert operatives in the world of American espionage. Based on comic books published by DC Comics, this little known material was a surprise hit in 2010.

Produced by Lorenzo diBonaventura (Transformers films, G.I.Joe films), RED 2 is now helmed by Dean Parisot in the director's seat. The film reunites the core casts from the prequel; Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, and Helen Mirren. This time around, they are joined by the lovely Catherine Zeta-Jones, Byung-hun Lee (Korean actor who played Storm Shadow in the G.I.Joe films), David Thewlis, and Oscar winner Anthony Hopkins. Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber returns as writers.

(L-R): John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker, and Bruce Willis.

Veteran covert operative for the CIA Frank Moses (Willis) is called out of retirement after his reputation was tarnished due a secret mission decades ago. Reluctant to return because of his desire to spend more time with his girlfriend, he is forced into action together with his team after being hunted down by government agencies. As he and his team gather, they soon find out a plot that requires them to save the world.

Catherine Zeta-Jones in a scene from the film.

In the prequel RED, the film had a straight-forward plot. RED 2 had multiple plots which made the film messy and unorganized. Despite the cheesy lines, which is a trademark and was in the prequel, it couldn't save the film from its plot-holes. However, it does retain the comedy level (also a film trademark) from the first film, in fact, it was slightly better.

Byung Hun-Lee is ready to aim.

An ensemble cast in a film so mouth-watering which only dreams are made of. All performed well but from a mediocre script, an actor can only do so much. The comic chemistry among the actors were pretty good and did garnered some laughs from the audience. In my opinion, John Malkovich performed better in this film than the previous.

British actress Helen Mirren in action.

Not as grand as I hope it would be. Action was just okay. Despite the film being filmed at locations such as Russia, France, and London, the cities were not majestically photographed.

Bruce Willis and Anthony Hopkins sharing a scene

Slightly draggy because it wants to explain a lot. Overall, the up and down mood of action and comedy was a little too much. It didn't feel boring in length.

Espionage action thriller with some infusion of comedy. Reminiscence of historical issues such as The Cold War between U.S.A. and Russia.

(L-R): Hopkins, Zeta-Jones, Parker, Willis, Malkovich, Mirren, and Lee.

Just an average action comedy film. I felt it could be better if more action is put in the film. It had some great comedic moments. Best for adults.

5.5 out of 10

Friday, 12 July 2013


The Hollywood slate for summer films just heated up with the inclusion of a science-fiction film involving extensive visual effects. It is common for such type of films to be produced yearly by Hollywood. This time around, Warner Bros. in collaboration with Legendary Pictures (Nolan's Batman series, Superman Returns, Man of Steel, The Hangover film series), presents a futuristic take on how humans might battle aliens in Pacific Rim.

Pacific Rim is directed by Mexican director Guillermo Del Toro who directed Hellboy and Hellboy 2, and was nominated for Best Screenplay at the Academy Awards for Pan's Labyrinth (2006). The film is from an original concept written by Travis Beacham and Del Toro collaborated on the script. The film stars Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi (the first Japanese actress to be nominated for an Oscar in 50 years for the movie Babel in 2006), Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, and Ron Perlman (his 5th collaboration with Del Toro to date).

The fact that this was an original concept and not adapted from any previous material is impressive. Yes, it does have its influence in the Kaiju film genre which is popular in Japan, but nothing so massive has been visualized on screen before. Although Roland Emmerich's Godzilla (1998) did make it to Hollywood, that film was a box-office failure.

Before I begin my review, I will define two terms which will appear repeatedly. These terms are often mentioned in the film, so no spoiler here.

Kaiju: The word is a literal Japanese translation of 'strange beast'. Over the years, the word has developed into referencing monsters or giant monsters on film. The most famous Kaiju is Godzilla. For this film, the word becomes a character.

Jaeger: A gigantic robot in humanoid form which is powered by humans. The mechanism can only work if powered simultaneously by two pilots. For this film, the name is derived from its German developers.

Earth has been under attacked by aliens sporadically but humans have found a way to fight back. The Jaegers (robots) now defend Earth from Kaijus (aliens) which invades from under the sea. After several years, the Jaegers become less dependant and in danger of being terminated. However, those who believe in them takes one final stand to eliminate the Kaijus from the face of the Earth.

Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) in a scene from the film.

An original concept storyline with a mediocre plot. Characterization was well done which seems to be difficult in science fiction films. Too many technical jargon but it doesn't confuse the audience too much. Some sub-plots were unnecessary. However, the combat and action sequence were written very well. Dialogue was not cheesy and corny. There are several underlying themes of teamwork and bravery which worked quite well.

Max Martini and Robert Kazinsky as a father and son team of one of the Jaegers

The lead roles are helmed by relative unknowns. Both performed okay. The main supporting cast of Idris Elba and Ron Perlman was a good inclusion to balance it out. To give the film a little comic relief, Charlie Day and Burn Gorman provided a welcome break from the tension.

Hunnam and Kinochi in one of the Jaegers

Kudos to director Guillermo Del Toro for taking what seems to be a weak script and make it a spectacle. The shots were very similar to what you would see in Japanese Kaiju films. At certain times, it felt like he was paying tribute to those films of yesteryears. The visual effects is done by powerhouse Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) and the visual effects supervisor is also a powerhouse, John Knoll (the Star Wars prequels trilogy, the Pirates of the Caribbean film series). Knoll and his team brought the Jaegers and Kaijus to life with well designed effects and exciting sequences. Though most of the sequences are in the 'dark', I feel the effects were superb and very well made. There were some shots where I went "Wow!" together with the audience in the cinema I was in. Ramin Djawadi (Iron Man) brought the film to life with his awesome musical score.

Director Guillermo Del Toro giving directions to Idris Elba during filming

Right from the beginning, a huge amount of backstory was explained. Good entry in the film so it doesn't feel boring. It does not feel draggy or slow, just the right pace. The film culminates excitingly though I felt there could be more of it.

Teamwork and adventure. Individuals come together to defend the future of Earth with a military 'feel' to it.

Rinko Kikuchi as the female lead Mako Mori
The strength of the script may be questionable but we can't expect so much from Hollywood summer films. Unknown leads might be unfamiliar territory to some.

The visual effects. If you are a visual effects junkie, this movie is for you.

One of the many Jaegers featured in the film

A typical Hollywood 'popcorn' film but this is one of the best so far. The action scenes and visual effects are feast for the eyes. I didn't watch in 3D but I think it will look good in it. Wait for the mid-credits for an additional BONUS scene! Recommended for family.

8 out of 10

NOTE: I have purposely not included movie stills of Jaegers and Kaijus fighting for I feel that it is best seen on film.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013


I usually post my movie reviews on the weekend date before the release. This review was delayed due to commitment to a screening which happens after the date. My apologies to those who were expecting it. Thank you KLIPS Malaysia for giving me the opportunity to attend the screening.On with the review...

Jerry Bruckheimer. A veteran name often associated with producing big budget blockbuster films. This summer he brings The Lone Ranger, an adaptation of a heroic cowboy character and his Native American sidekick, which first appeared on U.S. radio in the 1930s and made into a television series in the 1950s.

The Lone Ranger reunites Bruckheimer with his Pirates of the Caribbean film series director Gore Verbinski and the lead of the film series, Johnny Depp. The Lone Ranger also stars Armie Hammer in the title role, William Fichtner, Tom Wilkinson, Ruth Wilson, Barry Pepper and Helena Bonham Carter.

Lawyer John Reid (Armie Hammer) returns to his hometown to be of service to his community. Upon arrival, he discovers a mysterious dispute involving a Native American tribe. After an unfortunate battle with a notorious outlaw, he is injured and rescued by a Native American named Tonto (Johnny Depp). Together they hunt for the villains who caused chaos to the land.

John Reid (Armie Hammer) and Tonto (Johnny Depp) looking out for baddies.

The Lone Ranger reunites producer Bruckheimer with his Pirates of the Carribbean writers, Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. Newcomer Justin Haythe joins the team. Now, the Pirates of the Caribbean series was great, but this one didn't live up to par and at level 'okay'. The plot is easy to understand and not too complicated. There were great one-liners in the film that is sure to make you laugh. I liked the idea of the movie told in flashbacks.

Leading lady Ruth Wilson in a scene from the film.

Tonto and the sacred horse. I like this horse.

Johnny Depp is one of my favourite actors. He did very great in the film. Although I can't say much about the supporting cast. The lead role in the storyline is played by Armie Hammer but more focus is given to Depp because he is the bigger star. Both had great tremendous chemistry but I felt Hammer could do more. The rest of the cast were just okay. I would like to have seen more of Helena Bonham Carter though.

Helena Bonham Carter in a scene from the film.

The film is well shot with great cinematography and visual effects. Director Gore Verbinski managed to showcase the epic landscape of the American wild west beautifully with great shots. Minimal visual effects but effective. However, I felt there were too much action scenes and was a little over-kill.

A scene in the film which was pretty well shot.

Here is where the film lacks. It is draggy. It try to tells too much of the film which resulted in its slow pace. Some scenes felt too long and I kept wanting the scene to move on quickly to the next. The only thing that saved it was the comedic one-liners which broke the tension.

Armie Hammer is the lead role as John Reid a.k.a. The Lone Ranger

A action adventure buddy type film with insertions of comedy to make it interesting.

Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer sharing a scene.

The pacing is too draggy and slow. I guess this why critics worldwide gave negative reviews. Only the finale was great.

The chemistry between Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer.

A summer popcorn movie which can be delighting depending on your mood. The film does have its moments but watch out for the downsides.

6 out of 10

Native American is politically correct term to refer to Red Indians in America.