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Beauty and the Beast – Movie Review

Unlike the withering magical rose given to Beast, Beauty and the Beast blooms like the vibrant, enchanting rose that it is. And it’s why this much-anticipated live-action musical adaptation will win over fans of all ages.

The classic tale of a beautiful girl finding love in a tortured beast begins with a spectacular opening ballroom scene, where the Prince (Dan Stevens) and all the occupants of his castle are cursed by an enchantress. This curse not only changes the Prince into a Beast and his servants into various household objects such as chairs and candlesticks but also removes all memory of the castle even existing from the rest of the world.

BATB_Payoff Poster 1

Years later, the movie now pans to Belle (Emma Watson), a young Frenchwoman in a small provincial village full of small-minded residents who are puzzled by her desire to read books and her consistent rejection of affections by the dashing yet self-absorbed, Gaston (Luke Evans). The movie truly begins when Belle’s roaming father (Kevin Kline) winds up the Beast’s prisoner after venturing off his regular path, Belle insists on taking her dad’s place. The Beast complies, and Belle finds herself condemned to his castle, fawned over by the candelabra, Lumiere (Ewan McGregor), a talking clock, Cogsworth (Ian McKellan), and a cockney teapot, Mrs. Potts (Emma Thompson), each hoping that Belle will melt the Beast’s heart and break the curse that has damned them to a life of home furnishing.

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Musically, the film soars. The songs are melodic and hummable; the cast all sings beautifully. The coming alive of the Castle’s key (animated) characters is charming with the oooh lala French candelabra Lumiere, Cogsworth and Mrs Potts, who sings the film’s title song. Dan Stevens with a rich, booming voice as The Beast makes for an interesting portrayal. His Beast is a brooding fur-covered giant; a tormented man trapped within a hideous exterior and whose plight as each rose petal falls and brings him to eternal doom, makes him more and more despondent. The darkness of the character is reflected in the production design and offbeat world in which he lives as opposed to the brighter, vibrant atmosphere of Belle’s village.

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Most of the plot and characters remain true to the classic 1991 film yet there are a few subtle improvements. Among them is Gaston & Le Fou (Josh Gad), both characters receive considerably more personality that encapsulates who these characters were intended to be and not change them in any way. There’s a scene (multiple scenes actually) where Gaston shows his truly sinister side by getting rid of Belle’s father through less than savory means and perhaps you’ve heard that his sidekick, LeFou is the first gay character in Disney history. Translation: For a half of a second in the closing scene, he decides to dance with another guy. Besides that, he’s pretty much just a slightly enhanced version of his 1991 self.

What is refreshing about the Beauty and the Beast tale in current times is that it goes beyond the usual princess-centric plot in that the woman saves the man. In this tale we see a sense of equality, equal parts bravery, equal parts fear and equal parts understanding. Besides that, love is also presented in a much deeper sense, in that it appears in us unpredictably and uncontrollably. That idea is summarized neatly in a line from one of the songs: “There may be something there that wasn’t there before.” The line is both a riddle and an answer. If you’re old enough to have heard it for the first time in 1991, it almost certainly means something new to you now.

The Beast (Dan Stevens) and Belle (Emma Watson) in the castle library in Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, a live-action adaptation of the studio's animated classic which is a celebration of one of the most beloved stories ever told.

The Beast (Dan Stevens) and Belle (Emma Watson) in the castle library.

Verdict

She may be reading Romeo and Juliet, but it is Shakespeare’s quote ‘Love looks with the mind, not the eyes’ from A Midsummer Night’s Dream that is featured, when The Beast’s library becomes the pathway that leads to Belle’s heart. This adaptation of Beauty and the Beast has both the looks and the personality, which is why it gets a Screenbite.my rating of 8/10.

KONG: SKULL ISLAND – MOVIE REVIEW

KONG: SKULL ISLAND delivers much in the way of visually-striking giant monster spectacle and jungle adventuring, paving the way for the cinematic universe known as the MonsterVerse (like the MCU and DCEU). That’s right, there’s going to be more giant monster movies *cough* Kaiju *cough* and they’re all going to be connected.

Discover new islands, see new species, experience the wonders of natu-NOPE.

Discover new islands, see new species, experience the wonders of natu-NOPE.

KONG: SKULL ISLAND takes place during the US military’s withdrawal from the Vietnam War of 1973, employees of a struggling government organization known as Monarch William Randa (John Goodman) and Houston Brooks (Jason Mitchell) hastily assemble an expedition to an uncharted island, Skull Island, to discover what mysterious lifeforms reside there, under the pretense of conducting a basic geological survey of the landscape. This team includes former SAS Captain/expert tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston), renowned anti-war photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) and the US military helicopter squadron, led by Lt. Col. Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson). However, almost immediately upon arriving on the island, these humans come face to face with Kong: a massive, ape-like creature that doesn’t take kindly to these outsiders dropping explosives and trespassing on his home turf. And as those who survive the initial encounter with Kong soon discover, he’s not even the most dangerous creature that resides on Skull Island…

If you like giant monsters and giant explosions, then KONG: SKULL ISLAND is the movie for you!

If you like giant monsters and giant explosions, then KONG: SKULL ISLAND is the movie for you!

Thankfully, the cinematography and CGI make up for the lackluster plot, dialogue and character development so it’s still an entertaining experience if you’re a fan of big explosions and heavy action commonly seen in The Transformers cinematic universe. In fact, it felt a lot like it was directed by Transformer’s director, Michael Bay rather than Jordan Vogt-Roberts, who made the less-giant-monsters, more-troubled-teenagers film, “The Kings of Summer”.

KONG: SKULL ISLAND ‘s focus on high-action and giant monster battles proves to be a capable introduction to the MonsterVerse, a cinematic universe that would be combining all your favourite giant monsters and more. Overall rating: 6/10

Kong: Skull Island opens in Malaysian theaters tomorrow, March 9th. It is 118 minutes long and is Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for brief strong language. THERE IS A POST-CREDITS SCENE.

Logan : Movie Review

Hugh Jackman has been Wolverine for over 17 years, and yet he found a way to deliver a new version of the character in quite possibly the best performance of his career and the best X-Men movie so far. A superhero movie of this caliber hasn’t been since the widely-acclaimed “Dark Knight Trilogy”.

Synopsis
Set in the future, a future where mutants are a rarity, Logan/ James Howlett (Hugh Jackman) spends his nights chauffeuring rich businessmen, drunk party-goers and hen parties around the neon lit casinos near the Texas-Mexico border, then getting drunk himself until he knocks out. During the day, he cares for a sickly Professor Charles Xavier (Sir Patrick Stewart) with the help of an albino mutant tracker, Caliban (Stephen Merchant) in an abandoned junkyard on the Mexican side of the border.

Logan (Hugh Jackman), Laura (Dafne Keen), Prof X (Sir Patrick Stewart)

Logan (Hugh Jackman), Laura (Dafne Keen), Prof X (Sir Patrick Stewart)

The main plot begins when Logan is approached by a lady, who is accompanied by a young girl called Laura (Dafne Keen), for help yet being the anti-hero that he is, he consistently rejects her pleas until she offers him money, lots and lots of money. Enter Donald Pierce (Boyd Holbrook), a cybernetic armed hired gun that is searching for the lady and the young girl and has no issues with killing anyone and anything that stands in his way. Pursued by the cybernetic hired gun Pierce , Logan, Laura and Professor X take off on an exodus across middle America in search of a fabled mutant utopia called Eden.

Donald Pierce aka The Baddie

Donald Pierce aka The Baddie

Part Western, part road movie. Unlike “The Wolverine” where Logan spent much of it powerless, in “Logan,” he has aged to the point where his super-healing powers ain’t what they used to be. He’s scarred, beaten, bruised and battered. When he’s cut, he bleeds awhile. A far cry from the calm and composed Prof X we’re used to seeing, he’s now suffering from possible dementia and is more reminiscent of that friendly yet crazy old uncle you’d find at your local hawker stall. While Hugh Jackman and Sir Patrick Stewart are incredible actors, the standout performance comes from the lesser-known and much younger, Dafne Keen. Her portrayal as a little girl who only knows pain, unwanted by her “father” and knows close to nothing of the outside world is absolutely amazing. Her acting ability can clearly be seen in her moments of raw savagery throughout and her realization of who she is towards the end.

But where “The Wolverine” started strong and devolved into another ridiculously forgettable comic-book-movie smash-’em-up, “Logan” remains true to its vision. Great for people who love Classic Westerns, Superheroes, The Last of Us(video game) or just Good Movies in general.

Oh and some friendly advice to those that have yet to watch “Logan”, remember to bring a box of tissues because it’s a real tearjerker too.

Ratings: 9.5/10

“Joey, there’s no living with the killing. There’s no going back from one. Right or wrong, it’s a brand. A brand sticks. There’s no going back. Now you run on home to your mother, and tell her everything’s all right. And there aren’t any more guns in the valley.”
– Shane (1953)

To those that have watched it, here’s that iconic clip that served as pretty much the inspiration to the entire movie.

Hacksaw Ridge – REVIEW

Desmond Doss was a simple, pious boy from rural Virginia who overcame a multitude of obstacles to become a hero in World War II, despite having registered as a conscientious objector (non-violent, does not believe in taking a life). During the battle of Okinawa, He single-handedly moved 75 of his wounded comrades from the battlefield to safety.

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Already a contender for one of the best movies of this year. (9/10)
Without getting into the details and potentially spoiling the movie, this is truly a cinematic experience from the very first second. While the acting was great all around, this was perhaps Andrew Garfield’s best performance as an actor. Vince Vaughn provided plenty of laughs during the boot camp portion of the movie. The war is where this movie truly shines, the battle scenes are gory, intense and provides a realistic sense of fear. Director Mel Gibson lives up to his ability to direct “in-your-face-violence” type of action scenes by utilizing the cast, music and cinematography to create an atmosphere that provides the audience with a multitude of emotions throughout the war.

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Overall, it starts off rather slow, insert family drama here, becomes a romance, turns into a comedy (It’s funnier without the censors but to each his own), returns to the drama again, and then full-on in-your-face war-action, with everything working perfectly together to get you involved with the story (It eventually becomes so intense, you’d end up holding back the tears on a couple of occasions.) Just sit, avoid distractions, immerse yourself and enjoy!

Into The Woods – Review

Even if musicals aren’t exactly your cup of tea, Disney’s Into The Woods will keep you in your seat with it’s witty humour peppered throughout this wildly entertaining adaptation.

OPENS TODAY (15/1/2015)

The Woods is a magical place but not as magical as Malaysian public restrooms.

The Woods is a magical place but not as magical as Malaysian public restrooms.

Adapted to film from the Broadway musical of the same name, Into The Woods maintains much of it’s core as an entertaining & somewhat educational story. Intertwining a number of the ever-popular Grimm fairy tales into one, Into The Woods emphasizes on the misconceptions of each fairy tale character as they were all previously considered to be relatively flawless. Exciting throughout the 1st & 2nd acts of the movie, it started to feel a little lethargic in the 3rd act. Nonetheless, definitely worth a watch for both adults & the kids.

Johnny Depp is the Big Bad.. Pedo.. Wolf, I mean Wolf.

Johnny Depp is the Big Bad.. Pedo.. Wolf, I mean Wolf.

Plot

Into The Woods starts off with a rather catchy song that introduces the main characters in their current predicaments & why they’re all going into “The Woods”. The story that ties all of them together is about the Baker (James Corden) & his wife (Emily Blunt) who are unable to conceive a child due to a hereditary curse. Fortunately, a glimmer of hope appears in the form of a Witch (Meryl Streep) who can remove the curse as long as they bring her a couple of items from The Woods(White Cow -Jack & The Beanstalk, Red Hood -Red Riding Hood, Golden Shoe -Cinderella, Yellow Hair -Rapunzel). Along the way, he meets all the other characters trying to solve their own issues which includes the goody two shoes Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), unfairly treated Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), thief with a heart of gold Jack (Daniel Huttlestone) and Stockholm syndrome Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy)

A world where hot women gets married with  round men because of their heart.

A world where hot women gets married with round men because of their heart.

DeView

A modern take on these classic stories allows for modern moral values. Ranging from indecisiveness (Cinderella wants to be a princess but not really but she does but not really but maybe but maybe not but alright, princess it is but wait, no..) to child sex offenders ( As charmingly taught in the phrase “Nice isn’t always Good” by the annoying Red Riding Hood), especially important for the younger generation.

Both the Princes were hilarious, especially Prince Charming (Chris Pine) who is both good & pardon my language, a douche bag. Then we have the annoying Red Riding Hood, I don’t condone violence of any sort but Red Riding Hood makes me feel otherwise. James Corden & Emily Blunt steal the show for me even if most would be raving about Meryl Streep, which don’t get me wrong, it was good; just that it’s expected to be good so hardly any sort of surprise performance there.

Music is good but what did you expect? It’s a musical, of course it’s good.

The best scene in the entire movie,  The Princes Song.

The best scene in the entire movie,
The Princes’ Song.

Rating 6/10
Overall, fun for all ages. Educational & Entertaining. The month of January in the cinema industry is usually known for it’s, let’s be blunt, rubbish movies *cough* Taken 3 *cough* but I am glad to say that this is an exception. Highly Recommended that you take your siblings, significant others, kids, relatives, young, old & watch it as there won’t be many like it for a month or two.

-Dev

MUST WATCH MOVIES (2014)

Happy New Year.

Now that you’ve heard it for the millionth time today since it’s New Year’s Eve, you’re probably getting ready for a wild night out or perhaps a cozy night in, either way you’ve still got time to breeze through this list of must watch movies. I’m secretly hoping that you haven’t watched any of these yet so that I’d get some credit for introducing them to you.

So before you get drunk, dance on the bar, lose your phone, get naked or get arrested, here’s a couple of movies in no order whatsoever that you’d probably wanna check out so you won’t feel left out when it pops up during a conversation tonight with that pretty girl.
(or guy, handsome guy, not pretty guy -wait, no.. well, let’s just go with whatever you turns you on, alright).

I love you, I fear you.

I love you, I fear you.

Gone Girl 9/10
A wicked satire of how fear works within the confines of a relationship. I found Gone Girl to be rather illogical at times but I have to admit, it kept me wondering what would happen next and not just that, it kept me WANTING to know what would happen next.

Dev's Bucket list : Fall in love with a French woman.

Dev’s Bucket list : Fall in love with a French woman.

The Hundred-Foot Journey (7/10)
If like me, you share a fondness towards French & Indian culture, food and acting quality then this is the movie for you. On the other hand, it’s 2014’s foodie movie alongside a personal favourite of mine, Jon Favreau’s Chef.

Alright, alright, alright.

Alright, alright, alright.

Interstellar (7/10)
Interstellar is full of moral ambition, breathtaking visuals and award-winning acting ability. However, it is presented in a rather pedestrian manner due to Nolan’s rightly placed lack of confidence in the intelligence of his audience. Over-hyped by the masses, above-average for the critics.

You can bring me the boy. You can bring me the boy. You can bring me the boy.

You can bring me the boy. You can bring me the boy. You can bring me the boy.

The Babadook (8/10)
The horror genre has been plagued by a multitude of generic plots and failed attempts at milking franchises (*cough* Annabelle) but The Babadook brings a fresh perspective that is usually seen in thrillers. By the end of this haunting tale about a grieving mother and her child, you’d be wondering who you should fear more, the monster in the dark or yourself?

Keep Calm and Reset.

Keep Calm and Reset.

The Edge of Tomorrow (8/10)
Exceptionally entertaining, consistently humorous and all-around great visuals that makes you feel like you’re watching a 2-hour video game, which in my book, is fantastic. Tom Cruise remains lovable even when we should feel the exact opposite for his character.

What a bunch of A-holes.

What a bunch of A-holes.

Guardians of the Galaxy (10/10)
Not much can be said about this comic adaptation that you haven’t already heard or read somewhere else besides it successfully introducing a generally unknown team of dysfunctional superheroes and turning Guardians of the Galaxy into a household name alongside the likes of Batman, Superman & the X-Men. Another new addition to the A-list acting fraternity is the charmingly hilarious Chris Pratt who makes Star-Lord his own in similar fashion to Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine & Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man.
All in all, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is my pick for 2014’s Best Movie.

You know what I hate about myself? I know what people taste like. I know babies taste the best.

You know what I hate about myself? I know what people taste like. I know babies taste the best.

Snowpiercer (7/10)
Much like the Edge of Tomorrow, this too plays out like a video game but instead has a darker, grittier appeal to it that promises to be highly entertaining, fast-paced and morally-provoking.

There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that's what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant... oh, fuck it.

There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that’s what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant… oh, fuck it.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (9/10)
Wes Anderson retains his rather eccentric but highly entertaining direction style in The Grand Budapest Hotel to present the oddball adventures of the European hotel’s concierge and it’s lobby boy. Artsy backdrops and quirky characters makes The Grand Budapest Hotel a strong contender for 2014’s Movie of the Year.

The sky looks beautiful. Maybe I should fall off the roof more often.

The sky looks beautiful.
Maybe I should fall off the roof more often.

Boyhood (9/10)
A cinematic masterpiece in every sense of the word. Filmed over the course of 12 years to not just tell a coming of age story but to truly revolutionize the genre. Richard Linklater’s ability to capture natural human chemistry is as much of a gift to the cinematic art form as this movie.
(P.S: Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise is one of the best romance movies ever made.)

EVERYTHING IS AWESOME AND I'M BATMAN!

EVERYTHING IS AWESOME AND I’M BATMAN!

The LEGO Movie (7/10)
Retaining the same qualities that made LEGO the brand powerhouse that it is, The LEGO Movie is contemporary, inventive & most importantly, fun for all ages. Backed by loads of stars, The LEGO Movie is most definitely 2014’s surprise of the year. Oh and… I’M BATMAN.

My Name is Jeff

My Name is Jeff

22 Jump Street (8/10)
From the same guys that brought you The Lego Movie, 22 Jump Street is EXACTLY the same as it’s prequel. With that fact in mind, it laughs at itself making this one of the best comedies that’s been released in quite some time. Not to mention, spawning the hilarious internet meme/ catch phrase, “My Name is Jeff”.

My motto is if you want to win the lottery you've got to make money to get a ticket.

My motto is if you want to win the lottery you’ve got to make money to get a ticket.

Nightcrawler (7/10)
If you were captivated by the brutal depths of the human psyche seen in American Psycho & Taxi Driver, you’d enjoy Jake Gyllenhaal’s disturbingly brilliant portrayal of an enthusiastic young man beginning a career in the morally abject world of crime journalism.

I feel like Birdman would make this list if it wasn’t being released in Malaysia NEXT YEAR ON JANUARY 15TH. sigh.

Bonus. Worst Movie of 2014?

Kill. Me. Now.

Kill. Me. Now.

Pre-pubescent rubbish known as The Interview. You’d probably enjoy this movie if you were smoking up but let’s be honest, we’d laugh at the word “skittles” if we were high. I love James Franco but I’m afraid even Green Hornet is better than this which is no way a compliment to that Seth Rogen disaster. Props to the advertising/marketing team though, the movie would be nothing if it weren’t for you guys. (2/10)

I’d like to point out that most of my favourites for this year aren’t on the list mainly because they’re either too artsy, too indie or French. If your interests are along those lines, hit me up in the comment section below and I’d be glad to provide you with a bunch of names to quench your creative thirst.

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and regardless of how well 2014 was for you, have a better year in 2015.

-Dev