Friday, July 17, 2015
I didn't really like this one.
On the plus side, it had a nice, personal, heartwarming story of redemption, rather than some grand scale saving of the world/universe.
On the down side, it was no different from any other average blockbuster release.
I have 2 gripes with this movie.
The first was that while it's okay as a blockbuster, this is a Marvel movie. There's quite a lot of expectation and anticipation in Marvel films, so when this one turned out just okay it felt underwhelming. And the plot holes ah... Seriously how could the villain ever believe that the good guy's daughter was on his side?
The second thing is that the cinema I was in hardly laughed during this movie. I don't know why the humour didn't get across to this full-house theatre but I felt really weird being the only one laughing aloud after a while.
So the experience wasn't great. Maybe it was my cinema. My sister enjoyed the movie elsewhere. But yeah, I didn't.
If you're not watching it for the cameos you will be disappointed.
Bechdel Test: Failed.
No. of films seen this year with:
White man saving the world - 11
Non-white/male protagonist - 11
Monday, July 6, 2015
It was a festive atmosphere rivalling the NDP. After learning the Jubilee Cheer, the 50,000 strong crowd did a Kallang Wave that the organisers had some difficulty in stopping once it picked up momentum and swirled through the circular new National Stadium.
The Jubilee Day of Prayer was the largest gathering of Christians in the history of Singapore. There has not been such a large inter-denominational gathering since maybe the time Billy Graham spoke at the National Stadium, long before it was renovated.
The main event commenced with a reading of Scripture. As 50,000 people read Luke 4:18-19 aloud, I felt a tingling down my spine, just thinking about how this many people could change the face of our nation together if we lived by these words.
But I soon felt like something was sorely missing. When the Prime Minister arrived later on to great fanfare and made his speech, I realised what it was that we lacked.
Hands stretched out in prayer for our PM.
We all read aloud the declaration about the captives, but nothing was mentioned from the pulpit of prison ministries. We had representatives of the major denominations in Singapore each come up and give exhortations, but none of them said anything about the poor (there was a lot mentioned about the family though).
You see, our PM was the first person to really talk about the poor. Sure, we had an offering for the poor, but nothing was mentioned about them. Who they were, where the money is going, nothing of this was highlighted. In fact, more was said about how we should be giving more, rather than any emphasis on who we were giving to. In a way, the poor were overlooked.
In a land like Singapore where churches have million-dollar facades and parking space is a major concern for leaders, the poor are probably not much a part of our congregations.
So I'm trying to wrap my mind around this whole event. 50,000 Singaporean Christians made history when they gathered together in unity on a Sunday afternoon. And why did they meet together? Well because they could (and it felt good). But what did the 50,000 voices, combined as one, tell the world?
Probably something along the line of: "We are Christians, we love each other."
But... so what?
What about the poor, the needy, the migrants, the disabled, the discriminated and the despised, the bullied and the captives? Why are we talking about the year of Jubilee but only focusing on the favour of the Lord without taking heed of the blind and the oppressed?
The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.
Because if the government is the one telling the church to help the less privileged, and not the other way around, then I fear that we as a united church have lost the plot.
Posted by Justin at 9:02 AM
Sunday, May 24, 2015
This movie started well. There was enough action and mystery, good guys and bad guys, and a Disney dream of changing the world or finding a better one.
A better world where your wildest dreams are possible. A world of peace and happiness. A place like Tomorrowland.
Okay maybe not this Tomorrowland.
So the female protagonist of this story whose name appears on none of the posters (Britt Robertson) is a kickass, curious and gutsy young lady who comes into possession of a pin that temporarily transports her into Disney's Tomorrowland, a sci-fi futuristic world where people zip around on jet packs and fly into outer space on rockets.
After her magical pin runs out of power she is left to figure out a way to get to this dreamworld, with the help of George Cloony. But beyond that point I think it lost the plot.
First up, the violence was ridiculous. The other female character was going full-on Black Widow mode, leaping on enemies and decapitating them with her bare hands. Yes they were evil cyborgs like Ultron, but we didn't know up to that time, which made the scene of this little girl stabbing and ripping off someone's head really freaky.
And then more robots that look like humans appeared and the movie turned into something not too unlike Terminator. These cyborgs were scary. And speaking of violence, one character (not a robot but we didn't know that until he) gets partially crushed waist-down by a huge piece of architecture landing on him. It's more violent than the Avengers; At least no one died onscreen in the first Avengers (Agent Coulson and Iron Man don't count).
Anyhow, when was the last time some protagonist who travels to another dimension in a spaceship gets told that her world is ending and she must do what she can to save it? When was the last time you heard a debate about whether we should save the current world or fleeing it for a better one? If you ask me... it's like watching Interstellar again. There's even talk of time travel mind you.
And then we have the ending... I thought she was going to save the world. But she dropped the ball. Literally - the bomb was in the ball and she dropped the ball. Oh well. At least the white man is around to save the day, even if he has to lose his 14-year-old looking robot love interest in the process.
George Cloony's character's love interest. Don't ask.
The first thing I said after the credits started to roll was... "How did the scriptwriter manage to get this script past the people at Disney? I mean... when they asked what this movie was going to be about, what did the person say?"
My best guess is that the scriptwriter said this movie is about getting transported to a Disneyland-like place by a magical pin and being inspired to dream dreams like a kid for the rest for your adult life. "Oh and by the way," the scripwriter would say, seeing the look of doubt on the Disney exec's face, "the collector's pins will sell like hot cakes."
And that is how magic happens.
Disney is either trying too hard or too little.
Bechdel Test: Passed.
No. of films seen this year with:
White man saving the world - 8 (argh I had such hopes for this one to be below)
Non-white/male protagonist - 10
Saturday, April 25, 2015
It's quite messy
Avengers: Age of Ultron had a plot with as much complexity as one of Shakespeare's plays. And the battle scenes could give me epilepsy (I'm so glad I didn't watch this epic movie in 3D). But I enjoyed it very much (other than the ending).
The film gave a lot of screen time to develop the characters that were in the background in the first movie. Hawkeye in particular became such a relatable character that he's probably my new favourite. The romance between Hulk and Black Widow was interesting at worse but still quite awkward and unconvincing at best.
I'm impressed by how the director gave each hero their moment, and prevented the testosterone trio (Iron Man, Captain and Thor) from dominating and overshadowing the others. The cameos by Vulture, War Machine, and Stan Lee were plenty of fun too.
This movie is really a Marvel reunion. And thought there was a world to save (from themselves), the characters knew how to make fun of themselves in the little moments. The story line is unbelievable to the extent that Hawkeye broke the fourth wall to echo our sentiments: "The city is flying! We're fighting an army of robots! And I have a bow and arrow! None of this makes sense!" In an unfortunate attempt to sum up all the previous 11 Marvel movies and foreshadow the Avengers 3, this movie sacrificed an important element- good storytelling.
What is going on? Explosions probably.
The ridiculously awesome battles compensated for the convoluted plot overdosedwith Easter egg mentions of other Avengers movies. The Hulkbuster battle was epic, as was the final defense of the pylon. But man my eyes hurt.
Brace yourself for some major ranting:
I struggled to get the plot. The conversations were going over my head, as were the American, Russian, Asgardian accents. I got so confused my brain started hurting as much as my eyes. And because the plot was not clear to me, I began to try and figure the movie out. But that is not wise for a movie like this that gets more convoluted when you think about it. For example:
Please explain to be why they didn't take out big Ultron when they had the chance. They attacked him simultaneously with beams of energy and overcame him, but left him damaged but not destroyed? People died because of that mistake.
Why did Ultron locked Black Widow in a cell with a computer, knowing she could always hack the system?
What exactly is Scarlet Witch's power?
And what right do the American Avengers have to attack a base on Russian soil?
Also, why did the Iron Man suit deploy onto Tony Stark when Captain America attacked him, but when Ultron first appeared, Tony had to use a screwdriver to fight?
And I have serious questions about the ending.
How could there be a happily ever after? Tony Stark caused this mess. He levelled a city. Two cities. How come he can just drive away and have a new Avengers base? People died man.
Also, how come the Internet people that handle the missile codes are okay with him walking in and hacking them?
Are these all just setting up the plot for the next movie? Avengers movies should be the sum, not the setting-up of the Marvel movies.
One final thing.
The trailers... You know the first trailer included a scene which was the second last one in the film? Seriously. The smaller climaxes involving the revealing of the new Avenger was also shown in the trailer, taking from the awesomeness of that moment in the movie when it finally arrived. And that was just the first trailer they released.
Marvel released 20 trailers. I don't dare imagine what I would have seen if I had watched them all. The whole movie probably. And the posters had freaking Vision in them. Urgh. Marvel. Stop. I hate you and your spoilers.