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Jul 312014
 

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Directed by James Gunn. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper.

I must confess that when Marvel first announced a Guardians of the Galaxy movie, I was incredulous. How could they possibly make an obscure team operating in outer space work? However, from the moment I saw the first proper trailer, I just knew that GOTG might well be the best comic book movie ever. I loved the way James Gunn approached the movie – as a fun, light-hearted romp of epic proportions. Using classic pop songs also did not hurt its appeal as its soundtrack (eg. 10cc’s “I’m Not in Love”, The Raspberries’ “Go All the Way” and Rupert Holmes’ “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)).

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Jul 112014
 

DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Directed by Matt Reeves. Starring Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldham & Keri Russell.

The original Planet of the Apes film might well have been the first scifi movie I had ever seen back when I was abut seven. I quickly became a fan and watched every single sequel and even the TV series obsessively. PotA was a cautionary tale about man’s self-destruction and the rise of the intelligent apes to replace man as the dominant species on Earth. The franchise lost steam around 1975 but was revived in a risible remake helmed by Tim Burton.

Back in 2011, the franchise was rebooted with director Rupert Wyatt taking a different narrative starting point, in effect re-writing the origin story of the entire premise. Personally, I thought that Rise of the Planet of the Apes was competent but nothing spectacular, although the motion capture work (especially by Serkis – as ape leader Caesar) was ground-breaking, to say the least.

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Jun 062014
 

EDGE OF TOMORROW 
Directed by Doug Liman. Starring Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt & Bill Paxton.

Based on the Japanese scifi novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, Edge of Tomorrow tells the story of Major William Cage (Cruise) who is pitted into combat with alien forces against his will, is killed only to find that he is re-living the day of his first battle again and again. Eventually, he enlists the aid of Sgt. Rita Vrataski (Blunt), a Special Forces soldier and together they hatch a plan to defeat the alien invaders against seemingly insurmountable odds.

Movie buffs will instantly recognize the influence of Groundhog Day and classic scifi tropes in Edge of Tomorrow but this familiarity does not diminish the sheer enjoyment and entertainment the movie provides. Told from Cage’s perspective, it is easy to identify with the Major’s disorientation and disturbance when he realizes the gravity of the situation he is in but finding an ally in Vrataski propels the narrative with purpose and destiny. There are enough twists and turns along the way to keep things interesting without resorting to sentimentality although the soft denouement was probably necessitated by commercial concerns.

Edge of Tomorrow is essentially a vehicle for Cruise and Blunt to demonstrate their abilities and commitment to the roles. Cruise does what he does best – projecting the likable leading man that he obviously still is whilst Blunt is indomitable in her characterization of the super-soldier icon (“The Angel of Verdun”/”Full Metal Bitch”) for the human cause . The chemistry between the two leads is strong without being outstanding with Blunt stealing virtually every scene she appears in (as she did in Looper). Doug Liman’s direction is taut and direct, with practical special effects working well, whilst the creature design for the Mimics (the alien antagonists) is certainly intriguing,

One of the must-see scifi movies of the year!

Edge of Tomorrow is showing at the cinemas now.

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May 162014
 

GODZILLA
Directed by Gareth Edwards. Starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen and Bryan Cranston. 

Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich re-imagined the legendary Japanese monster as a female creature attacking New York City to nest its young. Based on the trailers, it did seem that Edwards’ Godzilla might follow that same path. But thankfully, Edwards movie takes a totally different tack and by the end, Godzilla is considered the “King of the Monsters” and a “saviour” of sorts.

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May 022014
 

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
Directed by Marc Webb. Starring Andrew Garfield, Jamie Foxx and Emma Stone

Based on the trailers & promotional materials, the producers of Amazing Spider-Man 2 had indulged in misdirection to suggest that Spidey would be fighting THREE villains in this film viz. Electro (Foxx), Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan) and Rhino (Paul Giamatti). In that respect, there were concerns that the film seemed too similar to Sam Raimi’s flawed Spider-Man 3 which was bogged down by THREE villains as well.

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Apr 162014
 

ASM2Wolvie

SPIDER-MAN VS X-MEN

Super-heroes are massive. Especially Marvel super-heroes. Both Fox’s X-Men and Sony’s Spider-Man franchises have been incredibly lucrative: X-Men has grossed $1,065,460,187 and Spider-Man, $1,375,853,166. And this May, the two franchises go head to head, who will come out tops? Our bet is on X-Men: Days of Future Past (which opens in Singapore on 22nd May). The star power on the movie will more or less guarantee box office success, and based on the final trailer below, might have a good story behind it as well.

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Apr 032014
 

thezerotheorum

THE ZERO THEORUM 
Directed by Terry Gilliam. Starring Christoph Waltz, Lucas Hedges, Mélanie Thierry, David Thewlis and Matt Damon

Director Terry Gilliam has called The Zero Theorum the final part of a dystopian satire trilogy or “Orwellian triptych” begun with 1985′s Brazil and continued with 1995′s 12 Monkeys. This time round, the story centres on Qohen Leth (Waltz), a reclusive computer genius working on a formula to determine whether life holds meaning. It’s clear to anyone who has seen these three movies that Gilliam shares the same concerns that Orwell had – the oppression of the individual by totalitarian organizations, the loss of personal liberties due to the role of technology in enabling oppressive governments to monitor and control their citizens.

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Mar 252014
 

Billed as the biggest superhero movie ever produced, Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past packs two generations of X-Men in a loose adaptation of Uncanny X-Men #141-142 (1980). Based on the two trailers already seen and the previous X-movies, it’s obvious that changes to the original stories is a given. The most one can hope for is that director Bryan Singer keeps faith with the core of the original stories, does not include too many lame characters (like X-Men: The Last Stand) and keeps the plot convolution to a bare minimum. Here’s the latest trailer for your viewing pleasure.

Opens 22nd May.

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Mar 052014
 

The sequel to 300, Zack Snyder’s adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel opens in Singapore tomorrow. 300: Rise of an Empire is based on Miller’s as yet unpublished graphic novel Xerxes and focuses on the second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BC. Noam Murro is the director whilst Snyder is involved as co-writer and producer.

Check out the latest trailer below.

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Feb 242014
 

A book about superheroes from one of the most iconoclastic of comic book writers, Grant Morrison. To sum it up, Morrison provides an analysis of over 70 years of the superhero mythos whilst at the same time dovetailing the subject matter into some kind of meta-autobiography.

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Feb 192014
 

To be honest, I was less than impressed when Marvel Studio first announced its intention to make a Guardians of the Galaxy movie. The original concept art that accompanied the press release (above) certainly did not help the cause. The main concern was Rocket Raccoon (an intelligent, anthropomorphic raccoon, who is an expert marksman and master tactician!) and the feeling that if the film-makers got Rocket wrong in making him believable, then that would destroy the movie’s credibility.

Of course, so far Marvel Studios have not failed to deliver with each of its films and in bringing in James Gunn (Slither, Super) to helm the first movie adaptation of Marvel’s outer space characters, it revealed an intention to tap into the director’s distinctive quirky style. And this is clearly evident from the first full trailer which presents a comic tone that works very well. I especially like the way that everyone makes fun of Star-Lord’s name.

And… Rocket looks awesome. Take a look!

Guardians of the Galaxy opens on 1st August. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bastita, Bradley Cooper & Vin Diesel.

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Feb 152014
 

JUSTICE LEAGUE: WAR

I suppose I am a bit late to DC’s New 52 concept which rebooted the company’s entire superhero line but the very idea repulsed me back then, so you will forgive me if I decided not to indulge when it all went down in 2011. The direct-to-video animated movie, Justice League: War, represents the first movie adaptation of the New 52 series (in particular, Justice League) and thus, I thought it would be an appropriate time to give my 2cts worth on this latest reboot.

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Jan 302014
 

If you have never watched Paul Verhoeven’s classic RoboCop (1987), then you might find this reboot to be entertaining fare. Nothing special but passable movie entertainment nonetheless. Whilst the original film came across as a visceral satire of the role that powerful corporations play in the USA and worldwide, Brazilian director Jose Padilha’s re-imagination renders any such social-political commentary inert and most of the time, his RoboCop comes across as safe, family-friendly entertainment.

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Jan 062014
 

MAGIC WORDS: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF ALAN MOORE (by Lance Parkin)

It’s difficult for me to be objective about the writer Alan Moore. After all, the man had been responsible for many of my favourite all-time comic book stories viz. Watchmen, From Hell, Marvelman/Miracleman, V for Vendetta, Top Ten, Saga of the Swamp Thing and so on. Apart from Philip K Dick, Alan Moore is my favourite writer. Period.

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Jan 022014
 

JUPITER’S LEGACY

Most PoP visitors will be aware of my ambivalence towards contemporary superhero comics. But every now and then, a series will appear that promises an intriguing take on the much maligned ‘genre’. Writer Mark Millar is a fairly big shot in the world of superhero comics and the Scot is best known for his work in The Authority and The Ultimates (not to mention Kick-Ass). Artist Frank Quitely has made his name working mainly with Grant Morrison on well-received titles like The New X-Men, All-Star Superman and We3. Last time these well-regarded creators worked together was on the aforementioned The Authority but this time, this creator-owned property gives them both a chance to let loose on the superhero mythos to fairly good effect.

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Jan 012014
 

Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

Reminiscing. About superhero comic books from the 1980s. Those were the days! *Sigh*

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Dec 302013
 

I am probably going to be lynched for saying this but… I never quite got into Dr. Who. Sure, as a child of the sixties, I can remember Peter Cushing and the Daleks being on TV and found the stories twee and totally lacking any edge. The only thing I liked about the series was the theme song!

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Dec 282013
 

MOVIES TO WATCH IN 2014

What are the ‘genre’ flicks we are looking out for in the coming new year? Top of the list just has to be Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past (May). Somehow managing to be a sequel to both X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men: First Class, DOFP is an ambitious endeavor, not only does it pool together two generations of X-Men characters but it is adapting one of the most significant X-Men comic stories of all time. When you also consider the stellar cast viz. Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Ian McKellen, Halle Berry, Jennifer Lawrence et al, there’s little doubt that DOFP is one of the most anticipated blockbusters in 2014.

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Dec 232013
 

Keanu Reeves is back in a genre film – his first since the conclusion of the Matrix trilogy. 47 Ronin is a re-telling of the classical Japanese tale of honor and revenge as a sword (or katana in this case) and sorcery fantasy.  An additional twist is the inclusion of Kai – Reeves’ half-breed protagonist – to highlight the Japanese prejudice against outsiders and to provide a doomed romance.

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Dec 182013
 

THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG

Regular visitors will be aware that I didn’t like the first installment of this bloated adaptation of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The Unexpected Journey ironically had too many familiar elements and tropes taken from The Lord of the Rings trilogy, as if director Peter Jackson was at pains to remind us of the association between the two trilogies!

(Spoilers appear below!)

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Dec 052013
 

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 trailer is here and guess what? The movie looks like Spider-Man 3 – y’know three villains overkill. Mm. Hopefully, it will make more sense than Spider-Man 3 did. Note: that last sequence really looks like a video game. Ugh.

What did you think of the trailer?

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Nov 082013
 

ENDER’S GAME (Directed by Gavin Hood)

I read Orson Scott Card’s scifi masterpiece when it was first published in 1985 and at the time, I was thinking that it was a superb cross of Starship Troopers and Lord of the Flies. It’s one of my favourite stories and you can imagine my emotional state as I was watching this film adaptation. Yes, I was crying like a baby. The adaptation is very faithful (I believe Card made that a condition of the option and license) and director Gavin Hood did a fairly reasonable job in getting the main plot points and themes of the book across. This achievement is aided by the strong cast with Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley and the young Asa Butterfield giving solid performances.

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Oct 312013
 

THOR: THE DARK WORLD (Directed by Alan Taylor)

Funny how Thor (the mightiest Avenger) is probably the weakest and least interesting character amongst the stars of the Marvel Studio flicks. The first movie spent time introducing Thor and like most origin stories, the interest was kept at a respectfully high level most of the time with the key being the character development of Thor himself.

This is where the sequel falls flat. Once you understand that Thor is arrogant, brash and headstrong (and loves Jane Foster), there is nowhere else to go unless you spice things up and the writers of Thor: The Dark World fail to do that completely. Thor is utterly boring (despite Chris Hemsworth’s best efforts) and predictable – lacking any edge whatsoever. Thor’s flaws and weaknesses (evident in the first movie) are glossed over and somehow he becomes the least interesting character in his own movie.

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