Review: Extreme Job

Extreme Job (Blu-ray release 2019-9-4) is a Korean comedy that achieved a huge box office success. A team of five cops start a fried chicken restaurant for an undercover operation to investigate a drug trafficking organization.  They act comically stupid, but the chicken restaurant becomes a huge success due to their secret sauce.  It also defies the Korean standard of inserting tear-jerking scenes into everything – this alone is commendable.

As the director said he is inspired by 80’s-90’s Hong Kong comedy movies, such as those from Stephen Chow.  Part of the reason for the huge success of this movie can be attributed to recreating the essence of the Hong Kong comedies while giving it a refined treatment and integrating Korean culture.  This movie even ends with a Hong Kong music.  The thing is, even Hong Kong cannot produce the successful Hong Kong comedies for the last two decades, and Stephen Chow himself also fails to make movies that reach the critical success he had before.

Review: Crawl 2019

When I looked at the poster showing an alligator in Crawl (Blu-ray release 2019-10-15), I got scared because of the experience I had with the Thai crocodile-in-The Pool (2018) movie, which is a trash movie offering only stupidity and bad taste instead of scariness.  Fortunately this is a much, much better and enjoyable movie with very good visuals for its budget.  This is an effective thriller showing a daughter and her father trying to escape from alligator(s) inside their house.  The house setting allows for scenes not seen in other alligator movies.  Other than really questionable assumptions about the nature of alligator(s) and how to apply these rules to escape from being eaten, I have no complaint.


Review: Anna (2019)

Anna (UHD release 2019-9-24) received negative critical reviews.  Critics found it bland and not creative.  The frequent jumping of time in fragmented and repeated flash backs are annoying to the point that it affected the storytelling, otherwise I think it’s passable as a female assassin thriller, even if there is nothing new here.  Its box office is also lower than movies of similar quality.  I would explain the poor box office from the sexual harassment allegations against the director, and the female objectification in the movie.

Review: X-Men: Dark Phoenix

X-Men: Dark Phoenix (UHD Release 2019-9-17) is dull.  I did not like Apocalypse (2016), most of the new young cast introduced in it, or most of their appearance in this new movie.  When did the romance of Scott and Jean blossom on screen in the new timeline?  [Minor spoiler] I could not understand both Prof. X and Magneto changing stance – I think their rationale for change are not well supported.  The real antagonist is also not explored beyond a few lines of dialogue.  For me this is the worst entry in the X-Men franchise, and I prefer The Last Stand (2006) much more, even considering the 2006 version only contained a shortened story of Dark Phoenix.  The only thing I like from this movie is the opening space shuttle sequence.

Review: Toy Story 4

Toy Story 4 (UHD Release 2019-10-8) is good.  It delivers a new adventure, new characters, and most importantly brings back Bo Peep, who mystified me by disappearing from the prior installments.  I do not not want to call it an unnecessary sequel, but its theme of being abandoned by kids has already been explored before.  I kind of like the ending because of Bo Peep, but overall it is overshadowed by the perfect Toy Story 3.

Review: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (DanMachi): Arrow of Orion

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: Arrow of Orion (Blu-ray release 2019-7-31) is the movie following the first season of the anime adaptation of a light novel series.  This movie assumes knowledge of the first season about who everyone is and what their relationships are.  Although the story is self contained, I would not advise people to watch this movie without watching the anime series first.

The protagonist won a travel trip by pulling out a sword that no one else could, but of course this is merely a scheme to get him to go on a quest to defeat a monster.  The movie is rather straight forward especially considering it is hinted in the middle about what should happen at the end.  For fans the harem aspect is maintained as again we see the jealousy among the different female characters, especially involving the new goddess.  I do not think the relatively short dialogue involving her in this short movie is enough to establish the emotional core.  For the level of threat that the story implies, the city is too well defended to have a sense of urgency, but otherwise the movie is safe and is neither surprisingly good nor bad.

Review: Angel Has Fallen

Angel Has Fallen continues the plot of one man saving the day.  The difference this time is that the protagonist is framed.  While not as engaging as the original Olympus Has Fallen (2013), this movie delivers exactly what it intends to: straight forward mindless action and explosions.  The identities of the villains are fairly obvious early on, so there is no surprise, with the exception of a new character who helps.  It was established that the protagonist suffered injuries from before, but when it comes to fighting bad guys, the injuries do not take any effect.

Note: There is a mid-credits scene which is odd.


Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Having watched more Godzilla movies than the average audience I’m more forgiving for this franchise.  Many of those are just not good movies and are forgettable.  On this basis, I declare that Godzilla: King of the Monsters (Blu-ray release 2019-8-27) is much better than I expected, and I like it more than the 2014 predecessor.

People are still dumb in this movie.  Mankind still knowingly makes the same mistakes as they did in 2014.  At least the screenplay acknowledges those decisions are wrong but the characters still have to execute them anyway.  Perhaps the monsters are really doing the right thing to wipe out humanity.  The early twist about the antagonist makes no sense.

From the standpoint of a Godzilla fan, however, it gets a lot of things right in terms of incorporating Godzilla franchise monsters and paying homage to the Godzilla legacy.  At no point am I confused about which monsters are battling and whose side they are on, but I am not surprised that some critics found it confusing.

Review: Deception of The Novelist (作家的謊言: 筆忠誘罪)

作家的謊言: 筆忠誘罪 (Deception of The Novelist) (Blu-ray release 2019-7-31) is a Hong Kong thriller based on an internet novel.  A famous author leases the apartment one floor above his home to a sexy tenant, who seduces him to lower the rent.  A short time after that the tenant is dead.  What happens next and the revelation of the killer is anything but straightforward.

Given the predecessor movies and the theme of this story, I am surprised that there is no nudity here, and some sex scenes even had clothes on.  I think that the story is too ambitious about its twist that I’m not certain some details about covering the killer’s tracks are realistic.  However, I’ve found no other critic who shares the same concern, so perhaps I’m a bit too harsh on it.  Everybody else praised this movie.

Review: Free Solo

I’ve always wondered what are the criteria for selecting the best documentary.  Watching Free Solo (Blu-ray release 2019-7-19) does not really provide general answers for me, but it is so unique that it really deserves its award.  It is about the first human in history to climb El Capitan without rope.  The uniqueness of this documentary is that it is exceedingly clear to the film crew, who are experienced climbers themselves, that there is very significant possibility they may capture his plunge to death on film.  Their mere presence puts pressure on the protagonist who is doing this already life threatening sport.