Thursday, October 27, 2011

“DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK” Movie Review. Is there a Real Need to?



Check the promotional photos.

These pictures spin a thousand woes.

They depict a sense of impending gloom – of long, dark shadows looming within the abyss of a creepy crypt.

The mood is visual perfect.

You will be assailed by a deep tinge of the foreboding, of an overpowering chill that will cause your skin to crawl.

That’s the film director’s intention, to grab the viewer by the balls (metaphorically).

“DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK” is a feature film that is designed to spook you dry.

But first, we will have to draw a differential line between a Western audience and an Asian one.

Let’s hurry over the preamble:

GUY PEARCE plays a workaholic property developer who moves into a rundown Victorian mansion with his new wife (KATIE HOLMES) and young daughter (BAILEE MADISON).

Happiness is all around, until they uncover a vast, sealed-off room in the derelict basement.

Then the ghosts come visiting when strange voices start croaking the little girl’s name.

She is desperately lonely and tries to make friends with the unknown strangers, but they have other devilish ideas in mind.

Unbeknownst to this unsuspecting little family, the former tenants are still in residence: tiny, toothy creatures who whisper within the walls, play in the dark and occasionally sticking out a menacing claw in the direction of its prey.

It goes to state the obvious that kids, no matter how brave they are, would never dare to venture down an eerie basement on their own.

Yet this one did, courtesy of the illogical scriptwriter.

The first half of the yarn plods ever so slowly as a prelude to a build-up, or  you can say it’s a quiet lull before the storm.

This Reviewer fidgets impatiently, whilst waiting for the first ghastly goblin to rear its ugly head to roll the action.

Finally a motley of these goblin sized creatures with long, sinewy limbs and dangerous claws appear, leaving little to the imagination.

Nah, the audiences are not hollering in fright.

Far from that.

In the East, movies pertaining ghosts and ghouls are a dime a dozen – because Asian audiences relish a good scare, as always.  In doing so, they derive the immunity syndrome.

The blood curdling genre has become a staple diet in Asian entertainment, and as the saying goes, too much of a good thing kills.

Blood-sucking demons and vicious spirits are purely, a subject of mind-over-matter.

“DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK” has a testy title.

Directed by TROY NIXEY, it treads on a well-worn theme of a awe-inspiring dwelling that harbors evil spooks.

But it has little to offer in the scare department apart from the strong moods that will transport the viewer through occasional moments of levity and sequences of nerve-shattering suspense.

KATIE HOLMES and GUY PEARCE are gifted performers wasted in a film that does not fully tap their potential.

Take heed of the dark though.

What’s lurking in the shadows may not be what  you are looking for.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

“TRESPASS” Movie Review. What’s SAUCE for the GOOSE is NOT sauce for the GANDER.



You can say that I am still seized with this bout of guilty pleasure after attending the preview of “TRESPASS”.

This is to warn myself that I have been treading on treacherous grounds.

All I did was to let my hair down and went with the flow.

I put myself through the sadistic terror the baddies inflicted on the corporate man, his woman and their daughter in a wealthy suburban abode.

Now, this film has taken a severe beating and garners the most of negative, scathing reviews from the world. You just leave it to the armchair critics and they’d have lots to gripe about.

I view it differently. Hence the guilty pleasure.

My point here is, in life, as in everything, not every great mind thinks alike. It’s best that you exercise your own opinion.

You can always be the one-in-a-hundred person.

Maybe I am the odd-one-out who see things a little differently, think a little differently and observe matters far more differently.

What is sauce for the goose may not be sauce for the gander.



But the REEL star of this home invasion thriller  is the gloriously elegant, desolate mansion where the entire story takes place, all within the span of a single night.

Sarah (KIDMAN) is an architect who’s happily married (or maybe not) to Kyle Miller (CAGE), a diamond merchant.

They are a seemingly upper class couple with an exclusive beautiful abode decked with the trappings of wealth.

Hold on there, all that glitters may not be gold.

There’s also, a lovely but rebellious daughter Avery (LIANA LIBERATO) added to complicate the parable.

Their luxurious lifestyle has inadvertently attracted a bunch of greedy thieves who plan to usurp their wealth.

Ten minutes into the film, on this fateful night, the unruly gang storm into the household and demand that the safe be opened.

They covet the contents – easy money to last them a lifetime.

Kyle knows that if he were ever to hand over the goods, the entire family’s lives will be extinguished, so he bids time, on whatever luck he can amass.

With a mix of bravado, Kyle enters into a deadly negotiation with the crooks, hoping that his ploy will pay off.

What ensues afterwards is a cat-and-mouse game in which a mayhem of loyalties are tested.

We witness screaming, cursing, punching, scrambling and threats amid the chaos.

Twisted revelations begin to surface – all within the confines of this stately home.

Secrets are out of the bag, lies are told to keep the viewer guessing whether there’s more to meet the eye.

Is the beautiful wife really faithful?  Or is the classy family just a showcase?

Things aren’t quite what they seem.

“TRESPASS” is competently directed by JOEL SCHUMACHER who took 40 days to film a one-night home invasion drama.

There’s a stark morale that we can learn from this movie.

First, lock your door at all times.

Second, don’t be such an absolute idiot to open your floodgate unprepared.

You may usher in unwelcome strangers who will terrorize your family.

“TRESPASS” is dedicated to die-hard fans of NICOLAS CAGE and NICOLE KIDMAN.

It is not that bad, really.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

“LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE” 奪命金 MOVIE REVIEW. Film Director JOHNNIE TO returns in Top Form.


“LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE” is one taut financial thriller.

It hits home a gritty truth that the Hong Kong populace is driven by competitive greed and obsessive wealth.

This one throws you into the murky depths of reality where you get to swim with the money sharks.

It’s a matter of life and death and expounds man’s ever going pursuit of a quick fix to get rich, and what’d have happened when the best of plans go awry.

Just be warned, do not touch what’s been predestined not to be yours.

Because theft is a seedy word and comes with a hefty price tag.

Money is everything.

And people are willing to do anything, everything,

and even die for it.

Money has, and always will be, the root of all evils.

“LIFE WITHOUT PRINCIPLE” is not crafted as a shoot-them-up action film.

It preys, rather, on the human psychology on greed. Nobody can be satisfied with just having enough. 

DENISE HO is Teresa who’s listless and unhappy in her demanding job as a financial analyst. She is forced to sell high risk securities to her customers in order to achieve her sales target. Far from doing well, her latent insecurities are eating her and driving her up against the wall.

LAU CHING WAN plays a blinking and bumbling small time gangster called PANTHER. He’s a loyalist to his sworn brothers and will stick by them through thick and thin.  He learns his way into the futures index to reap easy money in order to post bail for his irresponsible, lawless buddy. Some buddy, right.

RICHIE REN is Cheung Ching Fong – a straight, upright and honest police inspector who smells trouble big time when his materialistic wife fights with him on a down payment to purchase a luxury sea-facing condo that they both cannot afford.

The path of these three unlikely characters careens and intertwines when a boastful middle-aged loan shark is murdered for his bag of 5 million dollars, putting everybody in a tight spot.

This is where the protagonists are forced to examine the inner self, about the dangers that come with ill-gotten wealth.

Master of the craft JOHNNIE TO offers a nicely caliberated mix of intellectual dread and visceral shock in this suspenseful thriller that will keep you enthralled till the last frames where the credits roll.

Let’s hear from the man himself when he says “This is a turbulent world and in order to survive, people have no choice but to play the game.”

 A splendid script and brilliant performances by LAU CHING WAN and DENISE HO.

It’s a tour de force that’s truly worth a visit.

Go catch it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

“THE THING” 2011 MOVIE REVIEW. A New Decade. A Brand New Fear.


Be warned that “the thing” is not something you should take lightly.

It could be a blood-sucking demon that has been inadvertently unleashed, so flee, for heaven’s sake.

We start, as in this case, with a small expedition of Norwegian scientists inclusive of a pretty female palaeontologist Kate Lloyd (Marie Elizabeth Winstead), who are all bent on recovering historical relics for fossil examinations in an isolated Antarctic base.

They stumble onto an extraterrestrial ship that had sunk over 100,000 years ago, buried beneath the deep-freeze waters in the Antarctica.

There’s an awesome, additional bonus that comes with the finding: we are drawn into another startling discovery, that of a frozen alien monster that’s seemingly dead.

These smart alecs intend to bring the surprise snatch back to mankind for fossil analysis to create history.

Heard of the adage, just “let sleeping dogs lie”?

Some people won’t.  Yet, if they did, we won’t be having this story.

Jubilation brings about elation and they begin to throw caution to the four winds, even to the extent of drilling into the creature’s skin to extract a tissue sample from the lifeless body without a proper projection.

What happens next?

The beast is angry when awakened.

It takes on a rampage and it’s total mayhem from then on.

The ferocious demon displays menacing, crabby pincer-like tentacles, rears its ugly head and swiftly escapes.

But not for long.

It returns with a vengeance, to wreak havoc and as quickly as it kills, it also seeks elusive refuge by “entering” the body of the victim.

The extraterrestrial demon has the uncanny ability to mimic any life form it encounters. You’ll cringe as you witness a man’s decapitated open-mouthed head sprouting spider’s legs scampering across the floor.

In an utter confusion of paranoia, the remaining frightened survivors fight to stay alive, distrusting one another.  Who’s alien? Who’s human?

It is a tough escape route that’s fraught with deadly perils.

“THE THING 2011″ is a prequel to John Carpenter’s 1982 classic of the same name, and inevitably cinematic comparisons will be made.

It’s a field day for armchair critics.

Let’s say each version has its own merits.

This is a brand new decade, thereby inciting a brand new fear.

The ingredients of strong creature violence and gore are all here, and you will be treated to scores of  ghastly perversions of the alien body.

This is a mind-bending hermaphrodite that possesses phallic tentacles as well as a vagina dentata.

Yeah, the animators made good use of the lush abundance of magnificent post effects.

The definitive body horror effects displaying the alien’s shape contortions are a nauseous sight to behold.

A chilly soundtrack spookily unfolds an enigmatic terror story.

First-time feature director Matthjis van Heijningen Jr does an admirable job in building up and maintaining the film’s suspense and claustrophobia.

Take heed of ‘THE THING”.

It augers a fierce supernatural force that guards a portal to the past.

Once you open this pandora’s  box, you incur the wrath of a sleeping alien.

If you defy the order, then be prepared for the chills.

You’d call it real fear, in real time, in a new decade where there are new rules.

Be warned, chum.