Green Book reviewed

chitown2

 

This past week my pal and I went to the movies again. We were supposed to see Green Book on two prior occasions but had to defer due to scheduling conflicts. We finally viewed this acclaimed production, and it was worth it. With Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali headlining the cast, the ride was smooth and witty. Green Book is a three-time Globe winner and is currently nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Mortensen) and Best Supporting Actor (Ali). The film also holds a Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, hovering at around 80 percent. With all these accolades you expected the picture to deliver the goods, and it did.

 

Don

Dr Don Shirley is a black savant with mad piano skills. He is on the lookout for a driver, and not just any chauffeur, but someone who will launder his suits, be his bodyguard, get his meals etc. Tony Lip (Mortensen) is a bruiser from the local pub who is out of a job and needs one badly. When he hears of Dr Shirley’s opening, he is intrigued. There is a scene earlier when he shows his dislike for people of colour. The same aversion comes up as he realises that Don is black. Ultimately, the good pay convinces him to give it a go. He then accompanies Don in the Deep South as he does his musical tour.

 

 

Contrasting styles

Throughout the picture, there is racial tension, lighter moments and darker ones. Don faces a lot of adversity during his spell, and Lip is often caught in between. The contrast between the mild-mannered Shirley and Lip is obvious. While Tony smokes his cigarettes and hangs out with the crowd, Shirley prefers to stay in his room and get drunk on expensive wine. While Tony likes to speak his mind, the doctor prefers peace and quiet. They are polar opposites, even in their diet. Tony couldn’t profile Don, as he doesn’t dig soul food and is not your typical black guy.

 

Witty

The picture is quite witty, mainly through Don and Tony’s banter but also with their interactions with others. Though set in the 1960’s, the highlighted issues are still somewhat relevant to this day. During the early 60s, segregation was still in place. Nowadays, racial issues are still a fact in the US; the news reports on police malfeasance against blacks are Exhibit A. We also get a mixture of reactions from Tony: apathy, violence against Don’s oppressors, and disdain towards Don himself. They both ran to, and away from, trouble.

 

nyc1

 

True story

I did not realise that this movie was based on a true story, not until the credits’ scene. The film highlights everything beautiful between two men of varied backgrounds. When two parties work towards achieving a goal, anything is possible. This was one of the lighter productions I’ve seen this year, alongside Instant Family. Tony’s insatiable appetite generated a lot of humour. He pretty much munches on something for most of the runtime. He even introduces KFC to his boss, and this inspires an awkward but riotous encounter.

 

Omnipresent

I concur that the high praise and box office success were well deserved. You could see why the movie continues to entice for months, having been released in November of last year. Green Book is such a fun picture that breezes by. Nick and I were walking around the mall when he said ‘Mahershala Ali’. He was referring to the moving banner that announced Battle Angel. ‘He’s everywhere,’ I told him. I reminded him that we also saw him in Spiderverse. ‘He’s the uncle,’ I told him in response to his query. Oscars win or not, there is no doubt that these movies wouldn’t be the same without Ali. Goodo.

 

Rating: 4.1/5

 

greenbook4

Posted in movies, reviews | Leave a comment

Big Little Lies reviewed

Big Little Lies

 

I mentioned previously that Homeland was a must-watch. After consuming the first three seasons, I was on the lookout for something new. I tried out Game of Thrones; it is visually stunning and has a cute cast, but some inclusions were distracting. Enter Big Little Lies (BLL). I first heard about the HBO production while watching the Emmys in 2017. Based on Liane Moriarty’s bestselling novel, the series deals with trouble in paradise. The angles were very well shot, making no one mistake that this wasn’t nirvana.

 

Jane

The show begins by welcoming Jane, a young mother, into picturesque Monterrey. She brings her son, soon enrolling him locally. She is vivacious and guarded, but harbors a dark past. While she is happy with her son, the father’s identity remains a mystery that she doesn’t want to solve. She first meets Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) and the two hit it off right away. They often hang out in the café, sharing stories and secrets. Madeline quickly becomes her confidante. On the very first day of school, something vile happens; there is a ruckus, with the lawyer Renata (Laura Dern) crying foul for her daughter (Annabella). When the latter points out Ziggy (Jane’s son), madness ensues. Meanwhile, Ziggy wants to know his father, but Jane rebuffs him at every time. All the while, snippets of police interviews with the townsfolk abound. From the start, viewers are alerted to a murder in sleepy Monterrey, and the authorities want to get to the bottom of this.

 

 

Madeline

Madeline is quick to side with Jane and ostracises Renata. An all-out war ensues, with Renata so certain that Ziggy is the bully, while the latter steadfastly denies this. The town is divided into the Janes and Renata’s. The former likewise struggles with her own daughter, Chloe, who rebels against her. She favours her own dad and stepmom even as Madeline is trying her best. The battle between both sets of parents is a recurring theme on the programme. Madeline and current husband Ed always try to outdo Bonnie and her ex-spouse, and vice-versa. Often heated, this sometimes escalates further. Like Jane, she also has her inner demons and later admits to Chloe that her life isn’t perfect. As a stay at home mum, she channels her energy into her project, a play. She has to fend off Renata, her own folly, and the bloodthirsty council just, so the show must go on.

 

Celeste

Celete (Nicole Kidman) is the third mother in the show’s focus. She is a devoted homemaker to her absentee husband and twin sons. She used to be a high-powered attorney but left the job to be a devoted housewife. Her angst and struggles are foregrounded in the series. Celeste wants to return to her work, but her partner (Alexander Skarsgaard) has his way. She is a victim, yet her friends have no idea what is going on. The couple then seeks therapy to iron out any creases between them. As she tries to be more independent, adversity would swallow her.

 

 

Vivid

For his portrayal of Perry Wright, Celete’s abusive husband, Skarsgaard won both the Globe and the Emmy for Best Supporting Actor. I could say that it was a very vivid portrayal, and that he owned the role. His acting was simply superb, fooling everyone that he was a high-powered executive in a suit when he was indeed touring the country for more sinister reasons. If we must learn one thing from this scenario, it’s this: don’t let the fancy clothes fool you. Appearances and first impressions AREN’T everything.

 

Of course, the recognition for BLL does not end there, with Nicole and Laura Dern both receiving coveted awards for their respective portrayals. There is no doubt that BLL was one of the finest programmes on television that year, if not the finest. Given the title spanned all of seven epidodes in 2017, it proves that quality is of more consequence than quantity. The production was originally meant to be a mini-series, but after a two-year hiatus, the show would return for another season this June. Most of the original cast were reported to be on board again, with some new faces added in as well. Given that it was one of the most loved shows of twenty seventeen, being this year’s most anticipated shows come as no surprise. It’s time for more lies and a lil’ more trouble in Eden.

 

Rating: 5/5

 

bll10

 

 

Posted in reviews | Leave a comment

The Mule reviewed

clint2

 

Yesterday my bud and I met up at the Parramatta cinemas. I wanted to see The Mule, and David was happy to tag along. The movie has been released for weeks now and was a commercial success, grossing over $100 million at the global box office, more than twice its budget. Interestingly, the last Eastwood movie I saw at the movies was also with David. That was in 2015, when we beheld American Sniper.

 

Premise

Eastwood’s movies are dark, and this one was no exception. Based from the trailer, I inferred that this would be a slow, dull watch. My friend admitted that it was deliberate, but I found it more engaging than I had imagined. The film’s premise won’t be a secret by now. Eastwood plays Earl Stone, a hardworking octogenarian driver in Chicago who has no time for his family. His daughter hasn’t spoken to him in twelve years, and his sustained absence at family gatherings has made him a pariah among his own kin. He faces money problems, and his house has been foreclosed. At his granddaughter’s engagement party, the former Korean War vet is called into a job that sounds too good to be true. He is given packages that he is not to open, he must drive to an agreed drop off point, and wait for a call on a cell phone provided by his ‘colleagues’. Soon Earl’s financial troubles are a thing of the past, but Stone has unwittingly opened the proverbial Pandora’s box.

 

 

Complex themes

The movie tackles complex themes, including family, old age, and the drug trade. In particular, Eastwood’s years is a focal point in the plot. He is able to get away with a lot because of his advanced years, even evading authorities. He does not know how to text, but he can deliver the goods. Furthermore, he can get away with bribing a sheriff if only to deflect attention from his dodgy ‘workmates’. Indeed, at one point, he is able to outwit an FBI agent (Cooper) over breakfast at the inn. Bates (Cooper) suspected the whole building but never once thought that Stone was the mule. All throughout the picture, you can see him shuffling and looking dejected. On the flip side, his age also lets him become somewhat of an outlier. Since he’s 89, he stands out from the crowd.

 

‘Tata’

Earl hauls in a lot of cash and is soon on his thirteenth run. He does this in his own style, with constant deviations and oldie music. These idiosyncrasies drive his handlers mad. However, his smooth driving catches the attention of the boss, and soon he is rubbing shoulders with the suits. All the while, he has no time for his family but makes up for it with an open wallet. He saves the veterans’ office, and even has time for women. Most importantly, he trades his old pickup for a brand-now black one. He is on the authorities’ radar but always seems able to slip away. They call him ‘tata’.

 

The feds are good, but it takes a while. From gathering evidence, planning and execution, intel to arrests, the process is arduous. They have a tall task ahead of them, and the cartel constantly improvises, leaving them with too little margin for error. Will they unmask tata once and for all?

 

 

Worth a look

Clint Eastwood assembles a stellar cast with Cooper, Lawrence Fishburne, Andy Garcia, Michael Pena, among others. The movie currently has a Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and I believe it’s worth a look. There is a lot to learn from this picture, much more than at surface level. Given it involves Mexicans, there’s even some Spanish dialogue thrown in there. Howzat!

 

Rating: 3.6/5

 

chitown

Posted in movies, reviews | Leave a comment

MacBook Air 2018 reviewed

apol

 

This week’s been quiet and yet not so quiet. I finished reading Less Than Zero by Bret Ellis, which confronts heavy themes for a relatively thin book. I was sick of all the hedonism and taboo and needed a sea change by the time I was done. Having read American Psycho ten years ago, I subsume that Ellis’s run-on style and detestable characters are pretty similar across his fiction; it’s only the settings and circumstances that change. During that time, I also saw Instant Family with a chum. Instant was a likeable movie with lots of laughs and I heard was based on a true story.

 

Highlight

The highlight of the week was getting my new gold MacBook Air (MBA). I’ve been using a mid-2013 Air for the last few years. I loved the battery life, the lightweight size, and the connections. My old Air had a charging port, two USB 3.0 slots, a Thunderbolt port, a headphone jack, and an SD card slot. They were really useful, as you can plug in various cables and having little worries. You could sync all your photos from your camera directly to your comp. The only external that I spent considerable money on was the SuperDrive, given that the Air didn’t have an optical disk drive. To sum, it offers a lot and doesn’t weigh that much.

 

 

Stagnant

However, as the years galloped on, the Air was left behind. New keyboards were being included on other MacBooks, retina display was the brand standard, and Touch ID the new norm. USB-C was fast becoming the status quo across the board, and Apple in particular was turning stingy on ports. All this time, the MBA retained its minimalist, silver appearance and tech specs that hardly evolved. Five years since my old trusty notebook was released, Apple finally decided to make some changes. Being released late last year, the newest model had retina display, Touch ID, a new trackpad, the latest Apple keyboard, and just two USB-C slots. The astonishing weight of 1.35 kilos was even lowered to one and a quarter kgs.

 

At first, I did not consider upgrading. My laptop was still serviceable, and my first impression was that it was overrated. The more I read about it though, the more good things I heard, the more convinced I was that now was the time. I played around with the new Air, and I’ll admit that the keyboard was foreign. Unlike the old scissor-like keyboard that somewhat resembled retro desktops, this one was flatter, and seemed more condensed. The keys were closer, and there was less effort required when typing.

 

 

Shopping list

I knew I wanted the gold colour. My other Apple devices were either silver or off white, so gold was a breath of fresh air. The next big decision was whether to get 128 or 256 GB. My previous one was the former, and I know it wouldn’t suffice. All in all, the tech specs were pretty good: 8GB RAM, 256 GB internal storage, Retina Display, Touch ID, Force Touch trackpad, the latest keyboard, in gold colour, all while retaining the same lightweight design. The screen is also slightly different, with slimmer bezels at the side. The same is true of the keyboard, having slimmer sides than before and thus a wider keyboard). Most people wouldn’t splurge on an Apple laptop, but I dare say it’s worth it. If you’ll be spending some time in front of a computer, then why not get the best?

 

Included

I still find having two ports rather thrifty on Apple’s part, but the other features as mentioned above, make up for this. You either have two and a thinner design or go for the MacBook Pro, which has four. Be prepared to carry around some added weight though, and the same colour schemes. Meanwhile my MacBook comes bundled with various pre-installed programs. From Safari to Mail, Notes to Apple News, iTunes to Keynote, Photos, and Pages, there’s a lot of options for the artist in me. Earlier in the week, I migrated some of my previous content onto this new computer. The process was kind of fast; I guess having double the RAM makes a lot of difference. Meanwhile, the dual-core 1.6Ghz i5 processor is pedestrian. My old one also had an i5 processor but was at 1.3Ghz. To be fair, the former had a fourth-generation i5, while this one has an eight-generation type. Many potential buyers have complained of this sophomoric engine. With most top of the line ultrabooks being quad-core and over 2 Ghz, this is something that needs to be addressed. In this case, you trade a slightly less powerful Mac for portability and reliability. In particular, the battery is almost as good as its predecessor.  Touch ID has been quite handy. With the Retina Display, images are crisper and much brighter. Apple fans have waited a long time for full HD (high definition) on an MBA. It’s about time.

 

Rating: 4.5/5

 

apoltres 

Posted in reviews | Leave a comment

Australian Open Twenty Nineteen

barty

Let me tell you something: this week, I was short on ideas for a blog post. I did not go to the cinemas, the weather was stifling hot, and I just finished a long overdue read (City of Bones). I was in the middle of the Barty-Sharapova tennis match on TV when inspiration struck me. I was looking at the week’s post all along. I could’ve written this an hour ago, but I wanted to finish the tie. Ash Barty was the lone remaining Aussie (male or female) in the singles draw. It was a tough out going up against five-time slam winner Sharapova, but Ash is looking really sharp and is as fit as ever. Allow me to provide some highlights of the 2019 Australian Open, the grand slam of the Asia-Pacific.

 

 

  • Channel 9. Ever since I can remember, Channel 7 beamed the tennis action live on free-to-air. I’ve come to know their commentators and analysts, from Jim Courier to Bruce McAvaney, Todd Woodbridge to Renae Stubbs. Throw in Roger Rasheed and even little Lleyton, Sam Smith and Tracy Austin, and you’ve got a star-studded line-up of great tennis minds. Nine won the broadcasting rights some time ago, and the experience so far this tournament has been impressive. You’ve got the evolved list of announcers, the 360-angle replay, and the expert commentators. The additions of former star Jelena Dokic and firebrand John McEnroe caps off the all-star cast.
  • Andy calls time. The three-time major winner has been battling serious injuries these past few years. His ranking has slipped, and his on-court performances have waned. He still remains a tough competitor, but his body couldn’t keep up. In a teary press con, the great ball retriever announced that this would be his last appearance at Melbourne park. After his first-round loss, contemporaries across the board showed their solidarity for the Scotsman through a tear-jerking tribute video. It’s one thing for fans to idolize you, but to have the same support from your adversaries is downright special.
  • The Demon. Most of Australia must have heard now of Alex De Minaur. The Aussie number one just won his first title at Sydney and is one of a few teenagers ranked inside the top 100. McEnroe was singing his praises, the commnentators loved his never-say-die attitude, and he even awed the legendary Rod Laver. People have said how great the demon handled expectation, but I saw this as a recipe for disaster. The more that people piled up the praises, the harder for the lad to meet those demands. When even his third-round opponent, Rafael NADAL, was speaking glowingly of De Minaur, I knew the guy was in trouble. I wasn’t mistaken. With a 6-1,6-2,6-4 trashing, Nadal proved that Alex had a lot of work left to be done. It was the exact same score of their 2018 Wimbledon encounter, and even McEnroe was stunned as he searched for words. This matchup reminded me of Bernard Tomic against Roger Federer at the Open a few years ago. Too much hype, too little substance.
  • Roger marches on. Despite being thirty-seven years old, Federer has defied his age. He may not be world number one but continues to amaze and win. He hasn’t dropped a set all tournament and has a laser focus. You can even say that he almost has as much fun in the post-match interview as he does beat his opponents. With four kids already, he is the ultimate super dad. Indeed, most kids (and even adult fans) would mention Federer as their favourite player in Melbourne.
  • Back to Barty. When Maria won the opening set, 6-4, I was thinking game over. I busied myself preparing lunch when suddenly, I saw the score was 3-1 in favour of Ash in the second. I was as surprised as everyone when Barty levelled the match 1-set all. She even had a double break in that stanza. Barty led 4-0 and I thought she would make quick work of the tall Russian. However, Sharapova showed she’s the champ by ralling to take four of the next five games, trailing 4-5. When all seemed lost, Ash hung in there. She was only up a break when some strong serving ended any doubt. While Maria saved three or four match points, Barty put her to the sword. She becomes the first Aussie woman at the quarters in Melbourne since Dokic ten years ago. She faces Czech Petra Kvitovic in the next round, who squeaked by her in the Sydney International last weekend.
  • The Aussies performed quite well this year. A few male and female players progressed to the third round, including a couple of wildcards. They certainly had the crowd behind them. They were there waving flags, chanting their support, clapping, encouraging the local heroes, and cheering after favourable points. Barty was gracious, thanking the Aussie crowd for all their support, and that she loved playing in front of her home crowd. Apart from Barty, Kim Birrell had a strong showing and reached the third round. Alexi Popyrin was another unknown making his mark. Alex Bolt likewise knocked on the door. As she said, ‘we’re very lucky to have a home grand slam’. Only four cities in the world have that honour, and Melbourne is one of them.

 

 

Melbourne, 2019. What an event! The tennis demigods from the far seas have descended onto Melbourne Park and watching them compete is an absolute pleasure. We relish as they chase after balls, serve aces, overcome rallies, challenge umpires, break rackets, win games, win sets, and win matches. Bon Appetit.

 

Special mention: who could forget that Frances Tiafoe celebration? He channelled some LeBron after winning his second-round match-up. Reminded me of Marc Gasol doing a McGregor after hitting a key three pointer.

 

tiafoe

 

 

Posted in reviews, Travel | Leave a comment

Last five

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

I saw Spider-verse with a friend since my last post. I was tempted to relate about it here, but given how my prior two were movie reviews, I thought another reading list was a safer bet. The last one was in October; since then, I have read a further five books to finish the year. I am about a third through a new one. This list is an eclectic catalogue: there are big names like Grisham and Reilly and a newbie like Sam Felsen. I have remained a Connelly specialist, as someone had observed. Indeed, I crossed the new year while contending with Connelly’s latest. The following are my five books to end 2018:

 

  1. The Black Echo. Connelly’s debut novel won the Best First Novel award in 1992. Having perused the book, I could say that, structurally, the book is very different compared to the author’s other work. At the time, Connelly was still working as a police reporter for the LA Times. There are far fewer sections, and they are notably divided by date. Longer though the sections are, they are evenly spaced, which gives some pauses for the reader. Early on, Connelly’s talent is on full display. From a well thought out plot, gripping action, pulsating dialogue, and all the bells and whistles, Connelly looked as though he had been writing for years. A Vietnam War veteran, Harry Bosch, barges into the scene, trying to solve a murder that involves a former colleague in the tunnels of Vietnam. Along the way, he crosses paths with the FBI, is under investigation by his own department, and has to stave off the Deputy Police Commissioner all in an effort to solve the case. As he goes deeper and deeper, he inches closer to the identity of the killer, a perp whose true face would shock him. Rating: 5/5
  2. The Reckoning (Grisham). I’ll admit that I haven’t been reading as much Grisham lately. There was a time where all I borrowed was Grisham. Altogether I’ve read in excess of twenty Grisham novels, and this one certainly lived up to the hype. The murder of the reverend Bell astonishes a small town in rural Mississippi. What’s even more unsettling is how the local war hero, Pete Banning, refuses to say anything to his family, friends, and even his lawyer. The book is not only a stage of small town politics, but also tackles family dynamics, 1940s America, and of course, World War II in colour. A whole section, all hundred pages of it, is dedicated to the war effort in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation. This was the best part, a history lesson on the shortcomings and casualties of WWII, highlighted by the infamous Bataan death march. While I do not dig the gruesome detail and war portraits, I loved the guerrilla warfare, the kindness of strangers, and the Pinoys and Americans fighting alongside each other. While I thoroughly enjoyed this bit, others weren’t so enamoured. In fact, many people admitted to skipping this section as it was ‘boring’ and they didn’t get it. Personally, I could NEVER do this, to skip an entire part of a book and then read on like nothing happened. I find that very convenient and rather privileged. It’s like getting a chopper lift from base camp to Everest; what’s the fun in that? As readers, we have the right to devour the best books, but we shouldn’t pick and choose the best sections. Otherwise, we would be making a mistake. For instance, twenty pages into Marcus Zusak’s latest release, I got fed up with the flowery prose and painstaking description, so I hit the abort button. I wouldn’t skip the middle chapters though just to have a smooth read. Rating: 5/5
  3. The Three Secret Cities (Reilly). I’ve finished the last three books in the Jack West series, including The Four Legendary Kingdoms (2017). Already a fascinating set, the Scarecrow (Shane Schofield) crossover adds even more spice. I was lucky to be the first person to borrow said book from my library. The series is reminiscent of the Indiana Jones film franchise and there is no shortage of adventure and artefacts. In this instalment, a blend of mercenaries and villains hunt down West and his circle. Loyalties are tested, myths reimagined, and secrets revealed in this race against time to save the world. Along the way, West will gain help from places he’s never imagined, and readers would scratch their heads as the fabled Atlantis and Knights come to life. In true Reilly style, every page has a purpose and thus nothing is wasted. You certainly couldn’t skip a hundred pages without feeling lost!

Rating: 4.75/5

 

  1. Green: a novel (Sam Graham-Felsen). Recommended by a former colleague, Green is a relatively short read. At 300 pages, the young adult novel is the thinnest book I’ve read all year. Focusing on middle school blues, race relations, and 90s pop culture, Boston is the setting for this impressive debut. As you skim the book, you would easily relate to Dave, Mar, and the rest of the kids at the King. The latter could stand for any high school, with warring kids, gym class, subpar cafeteria food, and big dreams. You don’t have to be black, white, Latino, or Asian; you need only have been a teenager once. Admittedly, it’s a time warp, with Sega’s, Larry Bird, Charlotte Hornets, VCR’s, and NBA cards. It is also very well written, making for easy reading. The peer pressure, basketball, and 90s Boston all gets to young Dave, who aspires to enter Latin like the rest of his school. By getting into Latin, you’re a shoo-in for Harvard. He befriends Mar, a black boy from a nearby neighbourhood who has his own struggles. Together this odd couple attempt to defy the odds, whether from within or beyond. Highly recommended. Rating: 4.5/5
  2. Dark Sacred Night (Connelly). My last book of 2018, bringing my total to 19. Like Scarecrow’s crossover in Reilly’s series, this time it’s ‘late show’ detective Renee Ballard as she intersects with Bosch. There are a few cases covered here, but the main one involves troublesome Mexican gangsters in San Fernando. They are well connected too, since San Fernando’s not LA, so everybody knows everybody. People who’re supposed to help do not cooperate. Therein lies the problem: there are walls everywhere, and roadblocks disrupt Bosch’s progress. He likewise seeks the killer of Elizabeth Clayton, the erstwhile junkie who he helped rehabbed. Will they get to said murderer in time? Or will it be too late? Not as good as Connelly’s earlier work, but not bad either. Rating: 4/5

 

 

At the moment, I’m fighting with City of Bones (Connelly). I’ll make sure to include it on my next inventory. Five books in two months, including two Connelly’s. The list includes some of my favourites such as Grisham, Reilly and of course, Bosch. Sometimes, it pays to stick with the tried and tested, but I wouldn’t growl when trying new books either. Every now and then, it’s nice to get out of your comfort zone, but for the moment I remain (mostly) a Connelly specialist. Count me in.

 

harvard2

 

 

Posted in Books, reviews | Leave a comment

Aquaman reviewed

aqua 9

 

Dubbed ‘the biggest movie this summer’, Aquaman blasted onto Aussie cinemas on Christmas Day this year. It made a killing in overseas markets before debuting at number one at the U.S. box office. Since one of my friends was unavailable, I invited another (Dave) for a viewing this past week. I had a pair of gold class vouchers which expires in two months. I couldn’t think of another film as worthy for a first-class screening during that span. While walking around in the mall prior to the session, my friend admitted that he hadn’t really heard of Aquaman.

 

Epic

Aquaman is an epic production. From a 140-minute running time to sumptuous CGI, to gargantuan characters and set pieces, to mythical quests and adventures, the movie is larger than life. A Warner Bros. picture, Aquaman is from the DC Universe, together with the likes of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Arrow, and others. Some people tend to see the live-wire action and the otherworldly visuals. However, what struck me was the consequence of family, the bond between mother and son, and the nexuses between heroes (and heroines). My buddy told me that ‘the opening scene was really something’. I agree. The scene where soldiers storm the Bastille to fetch the princess (Nicole Kidman) reminded me of the Stormtroopers snatching Princess Leia.

 

 

Arthur

Aquaman/Arthur (played superbly by Jason Mamoa) is variously labelled a ‘half-breed’, a ‘mongrel’, and ‘a traitor’. He is the son of the banal lighthouse keeper and the princess. Aquaman is badgered to take his rightful place on the throne, as doing otherwise would be catastrophic. Arthur has to constantly battle his own insecurities, his fears of not being good enough to be king. Princess Mera (Amber Heard) guides him along the way and becomes his greatest ally in the fight against his evil half-brother Orm, who lusts for the throne. Soon both become outcasts in their own kingdom, a kingdom Aquaman has only just visited.

 

Arthur will learn that he, like other Atlanteans, could talk underwater. His mentor would tell him that apart from that, Atlanteans could also see in the dark and could adjust accordingly to the cold temperature. The ultimate goal is to defeat King Orm, for which the legendary Trident is necessary. Arthur has shown his affinity for the deep even as a boy, where he could stop shark attacks and communicate with sea life forms. As an adult, he policed the oceans like Robin Hood and thwarted the bad guys. Will the outsider capture the golden trident?

 

 

Action overload

There is no shortage of no holds barred action sequences. In fact, there is way too much fight scenes in my opinion. This is rather distracting, even in the picturesque underwater setting. I did not see Wonder Woman at the movies precisely for this reason. In a sense, this bloated product reminds me more of The Lego Movie and Batman v Superman rather than Star Wars. Aqua is also reminiscent of Black Panther, with the soul-searching and the road to being king. While the latter has Wakanda, the former has Atlantis. Speaking of which, I’ve encountered Atlantis in Reilly’s latest novel. Different media provide different secret locations. Some scenes in Arthur’s journey were likewise reminiscent of another sci-fi epic – Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, the background music eerily familiar.

 

Disappointing

The movie has received mixed reviews from critics. However, my friend and I both agree that it was an okay movie. Spectacular CGI, yes, but predictable story. In a tide of bad options, I believe that Aquaman was the least wasteful. I know Mary Poppins has arrived, but it’s not my kind of movie. Same with Dragon 3, as I’ve just seen another family flick. At the end of the day, my verdict is that Aquaman was disappointing, a subpar Gold Class experience. Nick said he saw Bumblebee and it was a must-see. ‘I wished I saw that one instead,’ I told him.

 

Rating: 3.25/5

 

aqua 3

Posted in movies, reviews | Leave a comment