Part 2 of sorts of my favourite in film of 2018… my 5 favourite trailers! My favourite trailers are the ones that affect me and immediately drive a keen level of anticipation in me for the film. To me, the best trailers are as absorbing as a good film, with a conscious use of music, visuals and dialogue to foster the feel of the film. Keep in mind that this list contains trailers of films that came out in 2018. Thus, phenomenal trailer such as the Dumbo trailer, which came out in 2018 but is for a film showing in 2019, will not be included. Without further ado… Continue reading
In 2019, Disney will release not one, not two, but three live-action adaptations of their animated classics, namely Aladdin, Dumbo and The Lion King. This alone should be testament to how packed 2019 is going to be with films I can’t wait to catch in cinemas. Needless to say, this list was rather difficult to make given the sheer number of potentially amazing films on the calendar, but here are my eleven most anticipated films of 2019. Continue reading
Going into the cinema, one of the biggest question marks for this film was definitely the plot. Seeing as Crimes of Grindelwald is based off an original screenplay by JK Rowling, who has been kind of going wild throwing twists and turns in her story world, I was expecting a film full of plot twists and references to the Harry Potter series.
The film started off well; I enjoyed the opening sequence where Grindelwald escapes while being transferred to another prison. I thought the act of him throwing the creature that had helped him subdue his captors out of the carriage to its death was an apt way of displaying how he’s completely contrary to Newt; he doesn’t care for the lives of beasts at all. Likewise, we also see how he’s contrary to Newt in terms of his ability to win people over with his ‘silver tongue’ (I’m honestly not sure if this was an actual magical thing or just a way to describe his persuasiveness); having won three guards at the prison to his side and as we see, has pulled Abernathy over, who was even willing to have his tongue cut off in Grindelwald’s place. Indeed, we see Grindelwald’s insidious pull throughout the film; bringing Auror’s to his side, and of course, Queenie.
After the nice opening sequence, we cut to three months later, where we see Newt in the UK Ministry of Magic. We are introduced to Leta Lestrange, played by Zoe Kravitz, who clearly has history with Newt. Perhaps the almost uncomfortable close-ups of their faces as they converse is a reflection of their former intimacy. We are also introduced to Newt’s brother, Theseus, who I suppose is meant to be something of a foil to Newt’s character, seeing how he’s an Auror, a vocation Newt clearly dislikes, and appears to be a socially superior version of Newt that could have been; seeing how he is held in high regard in the ministry and is wedded to Leta.
Here’s where the plot begins to get messy.
We’re thrust into a whirlwind of urgent exposition as Newt meets Dumbledore (played very well by Jude Law, by the way), we’re given some news on Tina, who is also in Paris looking for Credence, and of the new Nagini-Credence relationship. We’re also introduced to Yusuf Kama, who I honestly felt was a completely unnecessary character who only served to complicate the plot without adding any real substance to it. We also learn of the conflict within the Queenie-Jacob relationship, as wizards are barred from marrying muggles, giving reason for Queenie to turn to Grindelwald at this injustice. Oh, and Bunty. I thought she was a somewhat interesting if also unnecessary addition, who also only served to complicate things needlessly with her clear affection for Newt, leaving one to surmise that there’ll be an arc involving her unrequited love (which never surfaces in this movie; she doesn’t appear at all after the few minutes we see her, perhaps in the sequel?). There’s also the introduction of Nicholas Flamel, who always seems only to appear as a nod to fans of the original series, as he’s mentioned as Dumbledore’s friend in the first Harry Potter book. His role is, like Bunty, rather needless. He seems to serve only as a powerful wizard who shows up in the finale to aid in battle. I think it’s clear an issue arises very quickly in this film, which is that it’s simply way too crowded. The problem is not that there’s too big a supporting cast, it’s that J.K Rowling has set up multiple points of conflict and interest among them needlessly, resulting in an unfulfilling finale where we’re too tied up with all of the various complicated plot lines to really know what to feel about some of these characters.
I think we can tell that the story was meant to have everything lead to Grindelwald; in the finale, the various characters all physically present themselves to him.
I thought the film could have been so much more cohesive if they had removed the Yusuf plotline, and focused on the Newt-Leta story more. That would have made her declaration of love towards the end far more meaningful (I also liked how they made it ambiguous whether she said it to Newt or Theseus), as I thought the flashbacks to the Newt-Leta school days were definitely some of the nicer scenes. Letting the confusing revelation that coiled the Leta-Credence-Yusuf story together take centre stage seemed to suddenly make much of the main cast almost insignificant to the bigger plot, making for an underwhelming finale.
Of course, the main talking point coming out of the theatre was the deus ex machina J.K Rowling throws us at the very end, that Credence is a Dumbledore. Clearly, this is a cliffhanger move to set up the sequel, but I thought it only served to further throw the Leta-Credence-Yusuf story into irrelevance, which utterly confuses me because they had set that up as a climactic revelation and the driving point of the plot.
We are treated to some nice scenes, most of them involving various beasts. I thought the action sequences in the French Ministry of Magic was nice. I enjoyed the Tina-Newt reunion scene, which brought out the peculiarities of Newt’s character in a really charming way, props to Eddie Redmayne for fleshing out Newt’s character so well. As I stated early, I also really enjoyed the Newt-Leta story, especially the flashbacks. Perhaps a biased part of me enjoyed them because of the familiar Hogwarts setting, but I thought they provided a nice escape from the overcomplicated plot that was coiling itself into a mess. The final battle was nice but kind of came out of nowhere; what were those fiery beasts and why are we seeing them for the first time in the final battle?
Overall, it had it’s moments, but definitely very, very messy. This Harry Potter fan is definitely disappointed.
Usually, it’s possible to glean from a movie’s promotional material and the level of marketing, along with other factors, whether or not it’ll more than likely be a good movie or not. A recent example is The Nutcracker and the Four Realms which I recently saw. The badly put together trailers for the film in terms of their messy editing and severe lack of that magic Disney feel already set me up for a subpar film, which it was.
For the Mortal Engines, however, it really seems like one of the biggest wild cards in awhile. While on one hand, it appears to have some of that Peter Jackson LOTR magic; the visuals look grand and beautiful, the action sequences look interesting, it concurrently harbours a familiar young adult aftertaste reminiscent of the YA mania period of The Hunger Games and Divergent. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, the dialogue in the trailer seems far from inspired, so I think a lot of it will come down to whether or not they focus enough on building these characters amidst the CGI spectacle. The scar on Hester’s face is certainly a peculiarity that I think will be explored, probably with commentary on the concept of beauty (inner vs outer etc).
The promotional material has seemed to focus quite extensively on the character Anna Fang (played by Jihae), so that tells me that she might be the scene-stealing character, who will be of more interest than the protagonist. Of course, a film like this needs a good villain and I think Hugo Weaving has a great track record for bringing us villains who we truly fear and react to.
I can see the film sticking somewhat closely to the novel; the trailers seem to point to a rather faithful adaptation, (of course, that Hollywood filtered scar has been a negative talking point) which would mean multiple deaths throughout the movie. I think if they’re able to make us feel for these characters and have a connection to them leading to the brutal climax, this could be a great film, especially with the CGI spectacle to boot. However, if the characters turn out to be wooden tropes, and the dialogue is cliche as the trailers sort of suggest, it could tank the movie. For me, unfortunately, I’m kind of leaning slightly towards the latter; I think the main character will actually be an issue in terms of development and connection, however, a potentially interesting plot, interesting side characters that pull the story along, and a visual treat of the moving cities and their battles should bolster this movie.
Prediction: 7.5/10. Despite a slightly uninteresting lead, the world of the mortal engines nevertheless captivates you, with an interesting plot bolstered by the scene-stealing supporting cast.
This review comes extremely late, as CRA is weeks into its historic box office run in the US, but I thought I’d just share some thoughts on it anyway.
I loved the movie. The fact that it’s plot was striking of a run-of-the-mill rom com didn’t deter my enjoyment of the movie; it may even have enhanced it. Because this is the first time I saw a truly mainstream Hollywood with a full-fledged Asian (and not to mention highly Singaporean) cast.
Many western reviews have noted how it’s a fine portrait of Asian culture and society. Mostly, they seem to implicitly refer to Chinese American culture (making dumplings etc), however, I thought it did a fine job of displaying Singaporean values and culture as well, which was such an added bonus for me. Peik Lin’s family was not just comic relief, it was a nice quip at Singaporean’s obsession with things new and shiny, and the antics of the burgeoning nouveau riche. The snarky aunts that flank Eleanor in almost every scene are also a nice reflection of competitive family dynamics in a typical Singaporean household, where a spirit of one-upmanship and incessant gossiping is a mainstay. Of course, these may seem like generic tropes, but I thought they were imbued with a nice, authentic Singaporean touch and were tropes commonly seen in Singaporean films, giving it that added local flavour.
My favourite scene was definitely the Mahjong scene. The usage of such a popular game in Singapore in such a pivotal scene was nice, and I liked how it tied in with the very first scene we see with Constance Wu, where she wins a game of Poker because her opponent was playing to not lose, and not to win. Bringing this concept full circle at the end of the film, (with a change in the game from Poker to Mahjong being a nice nod to Singaporean/Asian culture), she talks about how Eleanor had made it such that any side winning had become impossible. She utilises the game to express this sentiment amazingly; Eleanor technically wins, at first, but then Rachel reveals her hand, showing how she’d given the game to Eleanor, rendering Eleanor’s win unauthentic. Here, we see how she’d played not to win, not to ‘not lose’, but to lose, and in the process had felt for the first time that she was ‘enough’. I thought this had a nice message of how assessing different permutations towards success wasn’t necessarily always the optimal way to grow as a person, rather, considering the value of failure or loss may prove more valuable.
Overall, just loved this film, and watched it three times because I had to. As for it’s Oscar chances, I think it should show up in some minor categories just as a nod to it’s significance as one for the history books, though a nod for Michelle Yeoh may well be possible if the stars align.
Recently, I saw the trailers for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Godzilla films, and thought I’d pen down some of my thoughts.
First, the Godzilla trailer. I thought the trailer poised the film really well as a giant monster flick; the one shot where Godzilla spews his atomic breath into the sky with the military ship before him as a size comparison is a glimpse of the breathtaking scale of the visuals that I’m hoping permeates throughout the film.
I think Millie Bobby Brown is an interesting casting choice (if someone typecast). Assuming the trailer is simply playing up her popularity and that she is indeed the main human protagonist of the film, I think some interesting dynamics can be explored by the filmmakers in terms of size and stature, both physical and metaphorical. Her character appears to be small in size even relative to the other humans in the film, but perhaps her bravery will render her larger-than-life, comparable to the literal titans in the film.
I think the trailer does leave things somewhat vague, which is good, though those knowledgeable in Godzilla lore may note the presence of certain familiar rivals to the king of monsters and infer how it would play out. I suppose if the filmmakers were to follow pre-existing lore meticulously, we’d probably see a battle between two camps of monsters. (Godzilla and Mothra against Ghidorah in a CGI-explosive Act 3, where the human characters play their own minor parts but are largely left on the sidelines)
Next, Fantastic Beasts.
I liked how the trailer still placed some emphasis on the various fantastic beasts of the wizarding world. We even see some new ones! I had feared that the film would sidelines the beasts to place emphasis on the Grindelwald/Dumbledore storyline and more or less transform it purely into a Harry Potter prequel. Thankfully, the trailer seems to show that the film will offer a lot more. The line where Zoe Kravitz’s character observes how there was no monster Newt couldn’t love was particularly interesting to me. I feel that she meant this not pertaining solely to his care for the various beasts seen in the film, but also to the sidelined people or perhaps those seen as ‘sub-human’ because of various peculiarities. I think it’ll be interesting if the filmmakers explored this human-beast dynamic and what made someone or something constitute a beast. For instance, in our world, we may treat a dog infinitely better than we do another human being. What would that say about the status dynamics between beasts and humans?
In recent weeks, some trailers for several upcoming films touted to be big players at next year’s Oscars were released. I’ll give my brief thoughts on two of them: First Man and A Star is Born.
First Man appears to be as dramatic and Oscar-baity as you’d expect, with a lot of the trailer showing us the brooding Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong, whose inner turmoil he brings out in anticipation of the mission to the moon. It does seem like a lot of this film will be carried on his shoulders, so if it succeeds, I think he may be a lock of a lead nomination, especially seeing how favourable he’s been with Academy members recently (La La Land).
I think Claire Foy looks to be an electric foil to Gosling’s brooding Armstrong; her first scenes from the trailer show her to be loud and quick-tongued, and with her stellar work in The Queen, I think Academy members will give this TV star her first Oscar nomination, likely in the supporting category. The supporting, empowering wife figure seems to be a popular choice for Academy voters, especially when to a male lead who’s primely in the race (see: Felicity Jones, Keira Knightley, Ruth Negga). Claire Foy does seem to add no small degree of her own voice in this film, (she’s seen berating Neil’s colleagues in potentially scene-stealing fashion) and I think she may be a lock as well.
Onto A Star is Born, I think Lady Gaga looks great! Of course, she sounds great as well, and just from the trailer, I can detect definite chemistry between the two leads. I think this could really be a breakout for her, but she’d have to be really good, and so would the movie. When people remember that Cher won an Oscar back in the day, I’m not sure if Academy members view that as a historic moment or a ‘what were we thinking’ moment, so I think they’d want to be extra sure if they were to award a (former?) pop artist the biggest prize. A nomination definitely seems possible, though.