Monday, June 27, 2016

Kung Fu Panda 3 (2016)

Yup, I know this is expired. But for late late late night = early morning works, especially since I didn't manage to see "Kung Fu Panda 3" until last week. Bad decision, so I thought it might be a good one to prevent others if there's anybody who has it on his list. After "How to Train Your Dragon 2" this was the second biggest dissappointment coming from DreamWorks. In this episode 3, the panda = Po gets an upgrade from Dragon Warrior to Chi GrandMaster for defeating Kai. I've already said everything, but let's detail a bit ...

Kai is a fearsome ox exiled on the other realm and forgotten ... until somehow finds a way to return among the living. After that Kai starts collecting live spirits into a bunch of green amulets. I didn't get the exact purpose for that, probably a sort of "there can be only one" without swords, just based on some inner energy powered kung fu that absorbs the enemy. Which again it's a bit hard to get how's working, being triggered more or less random during the animated battles (with a timing seemingly more hard to get than a "fatality" in a Mortal Kombat match). What's important is that the process of absorption looks rather non-violent and is also reversible (so .. really, swords and cutting heads wouldn't have worked here). Well, after Kai eviscerates the chi from almost every living creature, he finally finds Po gone for "chi mastering" training to a secret Panda village ("secret" = tourism branding). The final battle follows, and that's it ... you don't want me to "spoil the ending" don't you? (oh yes, we have also a soap-opera involving the two fathers of Po, but let's leave it for now .. maybe there's still somebody who's not yet convinced to give up on this).

Not in a good mood. Guess it shows ...
Rating: 2 out of 5

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Summer-Fall 2016 Movie Preview Part 2

Let's skip the intro, and quickly start September with "Morgan". IMDb says it's a SciFi thriller although the trailer has a strong horror smell. We'll see if the result is more "Ex Machina" or more "Carrie".

What's definitely a horror is "Before I Wake". As I was saying last time, I think the the "ghost story" subgenre got a bit overused in the latest years. However, here's a case that seems slightly more original than the rest trying the "dreams come true ... including nightmares" theme instead the evil spirit. Well ... original if we totally disregard Elm Street :) ...

This year we get a remake for "The Magnificent Seven". I have doubts that Denzel & company have any chance to live up to the Yul Brynner & company standards, not to mention the seven samurai of Kurosawa. But after more than 50 years from the last version we can indulge a try, can't we :) ?

In October we have three interesting thrillers. The first is "The Girl on the Train". The problem with this one is that the trailer says a bit too much ...

Second comes "The Accountant". Here we're better on the trailer spoilers side. But also rather common on the story side ...

And the third is of course "Inferno". Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) is back in the latest movie based on Dan Brown's novel. It doesn't seem worse than "Angels & Demons". We'll see if it's better than "The Da Vinci Code".

Let's wrap up with a Marvel movie in November. Apparently I can't ignore completely the superhero niche even if I'd like to ... This time however, there's something here that somehow got my attention. "Dr. Strange".

Friday, June 10, 2016

Summer-Fall 2016 Movie Preview Part 1

It's been two weeks since I want to write this entry, and I'm just postponing more urgent stuff to finally do this before we're passing half of the month. Because, well ... a preview including June releases doesn't mean much after June ends, right? So, let's make this fast and efficient ...

In June we have "The Wailing" aka "Goksung". It's rare (unfortunately) when an Asian movie catches some buzz also in Europe and finds a mainstream distributor in the US. Which typically presents some guarantees. Otherwise, I don't know much about this South-Korean flick, besides a hunch - checking the trailer - that's probably rough enough to be on par with the typical productions in the area (e.g., "Oldboy") but even this included, I still think it's worth checking out.

We stay in the hard thriller zone with "The Neon Demon", another niche title, the latest by Nicolas Winding Refn. I'll stick to the opinion that this guy is a mediocre director, who got one unique and single genius sparkle with "Drive" (I didn't see "Bronson"). Based on the current ratings, it will probably still be single and unique, but at least the score sounds nice ;) ...

I didn't see "The Conjuring" but I heard it's one of the best horrors in the latest years. Part 2 seems reasonably rated, despite the fact that James Wan clearly gets repetitive in this sub-genre of scary ghosts & evil spirits.

Let's try to move a bit out of the tensed area. Gradually :P. In July we have "Our Kind of Traitor", a new adaptation based on John le Carre. If "Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy" seemed overrated to me, "A Most Wanted Man" was excellent, moving a bit back in the more sentimental-drama area, characteristic for the author actually. We'll see what we'll get here ...

I was saying something about moving out of the tensed area. Neah. Where's the fun? :P "Cell", where we have Stephen King contributing to the actual script, besides writing the book, presents us a new version of a "zombie movie". And I like zombie movies, with or without genuine zombies :)

I don't have high expectations from "Star Trek: Beyond". 1. J.J.Abrams doesn't direct anymore - and although some would say that's good, when the replacement's name is Justin Lin ("Fast & Furious") I think we can't expense. 2. Simon Pegg might be quite good as screenwriter - but that's for comedies as "Hot Fuzz" & "The World's End". From there to "Star Trek" ... 3. The best movies in the series had a very well-shaped villain, even if we refer to it collectively = The Borg - the movie's catch factor being very often the tensed conflict. From what I see in the trailer, I don't give much chance that this one beats on "catchy factor" the reboot of ... 7 years ago (omg ... time flies) with the time-traveling Romulan, and for Khan in "Into Darkness" doesn't even make sense to start comparing ...

I doubt that "Guardians of Galaxy" can be surpassed by something else, but the DC super-hero universe doesn't even seem to offer something like the Marvel's anti-hero group. So, we're getting directly a super-villains group. "Suicide Squad" seems fun - at least more promising than the typical DC/Marvel recipe. Out in August.

The only animation that did catch my interest for this summer is "Kubo and the Two Strings". Looks different. Different than the cheap funny lines I've seen in trailers for sequels made to squeeze more money into the Pixar and Fox bank accounts. I'm not gonna even mention which animations, just to avoid disrespecting the originals. In "Kubo" I finally sensed a bit of something from "How to Train Your Dragon" (the first, not the second).

And since we started with something intense, let's wrap up the summer in the same range ;) more or less. "Don't Breathe" is a thriller with a pretty original intrigue, which at least I don't remember encountering before. What's the story? Check the trailer, it says enough :)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Il Racconto dei Racconti (2015)

Recyclin' recyclin' ... again I'm writing my weekly entry before an early flight in a couple hours, so indulge me being short with something picked from my degrading brain memory cells, not the oldest ones, but still enough to not remember everything ... A reason is that "Il Racconto dei Racconti" = "Tale of Tales" as international title is a mix. The way it develops first made me think on "Cloud Atlas". Strictly for switching the focus from one story to another, not the whole thing (different times, etc). More precise we have three stories going on in parallel. Where story = an actual fairytale. What connects them is probably just the human selfishness analyzed through three different perspective by looking at the fate of three city rulers, each of them advancing towards a more/less bitter end. The stories shock sometimes. I realized again actually how atrocious the fairy tales for children can be, and the interesting fact that you don't realize that when you're a kid.

There's no happy end here ... Although it might look like in one of them. In any case: - not recommended for sweet dreams :)

Rating: 3 out of 5

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I've read just one book by Stephen King. In the summer of 2014, when I somehow got a small slice of tranquility in ages ... Probably that's why I had the required patience with "11.22.63", which is not a weekend book (size related). Well, in 2016 the movie got out. A mini-series ... 8 parts .. as I said, not just a week-end.

Subject: An English teacher (from Maine, of course .. we're talking about Stephen King), finds out that his every-day diner has a time portal that the owner struggles to use to prevent the Kennedy assassination (ergo -> the title), which he thinks triggered the worst events in the US history. The problem is that he fails. The whole operation must start with several years before, the fixed arrival temporal destination being earlier than 1963. And since the diner's owner gets suddenly struck by cancer before managing to go through all years up to '63, the task is passed to our English teacher. That's a very compressed summary of the intro of a subject with many side stories and spanning plenty of branches.

For comparing the book and the movie I should give lots of spoilers. It's complicated without. Generally speaking the the differences are big, and unfortunately not also good for the TV version. First of all we have lots and lots of pieces cut out of the original. You could think that 8 parts are enough to fit everything, but the screenwriter decided no. More bizarre is that there are also added parts, so I don't think that lacking screen time was the problem. What's really bad is that the additions are sometimes senseless, the worst of all - compared to the written version: the main character gets a sidekick for his mission ... spoiler 1: in the movie he finds a "brother" on his way to Dallas; spoiler 2: the presence of the new character varies from useless to utter annoying, finally the screenwriters deciding that he's better gone ... I said I can't do it without spoilers :) But let's stop here ...

Final verdict: If in other cases - check out "The Man in the High Castle" - who wrote the script managed an exceptional adaptation, even including major changes, "11.22.63" is a failure that can be interesting just for who didn't read the book ... And that's without including the lead (James Franco) who I think can get a nod for the most tormented try to play a novel character that I've ever seen (to put it nicely) ...