Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (Blu-ray release 2012-3-27) tells the story of the chipmunks family vacation, in which they are stranded on an island. I think this movie is average – it may be enjoyed by kids or people who think those chipmunks are cute. For everyone else, the screenplay is not too interesting as the new character is not fully utilized to improve the story. I like its references to other movies though.
Battleship (Hong Kong Theatrical release 2012-4-11) is yet another alien invasion movie. Since many reviews of it are pretty negative, I expected the worst of it. The first act is quite long but fortunately it is not boring. Then we have non-stop battles till the end – it is better than it sounds because the battles show a progression of tactics and are not too repetitive. There are some flaws that I can find, e.g. the protagonist joins the navy then in the next scene he’s already a senior officer. However, I can ignore these flaws because I find this movie to be very entertaining, although it does not reach the level of Transformers series. There is a higher level of political correctness in this movie than usual: the soldiers include different races, people with disability, and the elderly. Comparing to recent alien invasion movies, I like this movie more than Battle: Los Angeles (2011) and Skyline (2010).
Note: There is an extra ending scene after the credits.
春嬌與志明 (Love in the Buff) (Theatrical release 2012-3-29) is the sequel to 志明與春嬌 (Love in a Puff) (2010), the movie that best portrayed the Hong Kong style of courtship. The protagonists face some challenges in this sequel – they broke up, meet new lovers, then get back together to form a rectangular love story. As a sequel, it is really successful by any measure – it extends the story in new ways with new characters at a new location, but at the same time being coherent with the original and faithful to its Hong Kong movie spirit, and adds a really funny video at the end. So it is extremely well received and is the hottest Hong Kong movie right now. It deserves all the box office it gets, but I think the ending is a bit unrealistic to me.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011) (Blu-ray release 2012-3-20) has received generally excellent reviews, although its box office was not good enough. Based on the first one of three best selling novels, in this movie a disgraced journalist is hired to investigate the murder that happened many years ago. I can’t find any significant flaws in this movie. This crime/detective thriller has such a good story that I’m now interested in watching the whole trilogy of the previous 2009 Swedish movie adaptation.
I think the controversial rape scene is powerful, necessary and serves multiple purposes in this movie:
It explains why the heroine agrees to help the protagonist immediately without any consideration.
- It establishes the mood and atmosphere of the story.
- It helps the audience to relate to the horror of the climactic scene and what the various victims had experienced before.
- I cannot confirm this (yet), but another reviewer said it is somehow related to what happens in the second and the third stories that follow this one.
八星抱喜 (All’s Well Ends Well 2012) (Blu-ray release 2012-3-23) is quite similar to 我愛HK開心萬歲 (I Love Hong Kong 2012) – both are major Hong Kong movies for the Chinese New Year period, have many movie stars, and try to generate laughs using different unrealistic plot threads. This year, I’d say 八星抱喜 wins, because at least some jokes in this movie worked.
In Contraband (Blu-ray release 2012-4-24), a former smuggler goes back into business in order to save family, then everything go wrong. I have not watched enough criminal thrillers to be able to judge the originality of this plot, which has been condemned by many reviewers, but it looks fairly interesting to me, although the feasibility of certain parts are clearly unrealistic. Besides, If it has more tension, it would have the potential to become a better movie.
I can accept unoriginal alien attacks in The Darkest Hour (Blu-ray release 2012-4-10), in which Americans try to survive an alien invasion in Moscow with help from Russians. However, I don’t like important things not being explained in movies. I don’t like people making stupid decisions or go crazy in order to die. And I hate stories that do not end properly – I’d much rather they have the human win, lose or even become extinct.
From what I understand, 武装神姫 (Busou Shinki) Moon Angel (Blu-ray release 2012-3-15) is an original video animation (OVA) based on a line of figures (toys) and video games. I think that this video is somewhat like Pokemon but with the monsters replaced by Busou Shinki – armament god princesses who are 15-cm tall cute girl robots equipped with awesome armor and weapons, call their owners “master” and obey them. This sounds like the perfect dream for boys, but the unoriginal plot in this video cannot be taken seriously. I think the relationship among the busou shinki and the villain is not explained adequately. Anyway, the important things with this video are excellent visuals and battles, not plot. The design is so awesome so I toke the trouble to find an image of it – a first for my blog:
As with previous Blu-ray releases of 浜崎 あゆみ(Ayumi Hamasaki) concert videos, -Power of Music- 2011 A Limited Edition (Blu-ray release 2012-3-21) offers excellent video quality, although it has more sharpening halos than I like. I think having a dozen performers playing violin is one of the best things in this pop music concert. I love it.
龍門飛甲 (The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate) (Blu-ray release 2012-4-3) is the next 3D step in the genre of “wuxia” (swordsman) movies. I want to write a positive review for this latest ambitious movie from director Tsui Hark, but the best I can say is that I’m not impressed. For me, the CG sky and background looks interesting but I can’t say I like them. I’m always distracted by the really fake 3D CG weapons thrown at the audience in slow motion. I don’t see other reviewers sharing my view, so just ignore my opinion and watch this movie if you are a fan of wuxia movies.
Update: This movie got an award for visual effects. So perhaps I have an unrealistically high expectation for CG.