Review: The Curse of Sleeping Beauty

The Curse of Sleeping Beauty (Blu-ray release 2017-5-2) is a horror movie.  Even though I expected it to be bad before watching it, I liked the idea enough to watch it.  Throughout his life the protagonist is haunted by dreams in which he sees a creepy looking sleeping beauty.  His dead uncle leaves him a creepy looking house, with a letter warning him not to open the basement without any explanation.

The attraction of this kind of story comes from its mythology, but its explanation is very bad.  The roles of the monsters, why they are hostile, their relationship to the beauty, are all undefined.  The horror is average, and I don’t like the fast cuts.  Worst of all is that after watching the movie you’ll discover the whole thing is just a prologue to something that will probably never be filmed.

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Review: Love Off the Cuff (春嬌救志明)

春嬌救志明 (Love Off the Cuff) (Blu-ray release 2017-8-9) is the third movie in a Hong Kong romantic comedy series.  The story is mainly about daily arguments between the couple escalating into a break up.  It prominently features Cantonese foul language, apparently this is one of the factors that drive its box office success.  However, I don’t think this movie is as good as the predecessors.  Several scenes work really hard to make the audience laugh, but they feel disjointed with the main story.  The resolution also seems too simplistic and forced.

Review: Kill Switch

Kill Switch (Blu-ray release 2017-8-22) is a sci-fi movie.  A company tries to solve the energy crisis by creating a parallel Earth, then convert the matter there into energy and suck it into the original Earth.  The parallel Earth is not supposed to contain life, but of course it does for the purpose of this movie.

Although this concept sounds ridiculous, I’m interested in it since there are not too many movies with parallel universe.  However, I never like first-person view, although in here it’s not as shaky as in other movies.  Some of the visual effects look great, but the whole experience is like watching someone play a first person shooter game.  This perspective actually sacrificed the story telling because in some scenes it’s not clear what exactly happened from the first person perspective.  To make things worse, the plot lacks logic.  At some point a bad guy asks the protagonist to help without any reasonable justification.  Yet before this meeting, the bad guy’s organization tries really hard to kill him.

Review: Fabricated City

Fabricated City (Blu-ray release 2017-6-29) is a Korean action crime thriller.  The protagonist is framed for rape and murder.  His video game friends come to help him.  Although framing someone for a crime is not new, this movie shows a whole organization dedicated to doing this professionally.  Combined with the action scenes which are done with impressive quality and style, this movie is surprisingly entertaining.

Review: Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

Joe Versus the Volcano (Blu-ray release 2017-6-20) is supposed be a romantic comedy.  The protagonist has a miserable job, and he learns that he has an incurable disease and only has 6 months left.  Then he is offered a job of jumping into a volcano, in exchange for a few days of luxurious life.  Since this is a Hollywood movie, he accepts the offer in no time.

He meets three women, all played by Meg Ryan.  If we treat them as individual characters, none of them gets enough screen time for the romance to be really developed.  There is not enough comedy to be found, because the screenplay is focused on finding the soul and giving life lessons.  Therefore, neither the romance nor the comedy worked.

Review: Saki Live Action Movie (2017)

I made the mistake of watching Saki Live Action Movie (Blu-ray release 2017-7-5) without knowing it is preceded by a TV series.  This is an adaption of a manga about schoolgirls competing in mahjong.   Since this movie is a kind of finale for the TV series, it starts immediately in the competition.  Fortunately there are brief flashbacks so it does not hinder my understanding of the movie.

Whereas Hong Kong gambling movies always involve cheating, this movie is different.  They do not cheat, but rely on things that are irrelevant to mahjong, such as a plush toy, and invisibility – not in the supernatural sense but in the manga sense.  Since this is originally a manga series, friendship is the most important thing in it.  I suppose fans may like it, but aside from the flashbacks, there is not much drama or plot to be found here.

Review: The Dinner (2017)

The Dinner (Blu-ray release 2017-8-8) is the third adaptation of a popular Dutch novel.   Two brothers and their wives are supposed to meet to discuss what to do with a crime their sons committed.  In this 2-hour movie, we don’t know what the crime is until 40 minutes into the movie.  Strangely when they meet they just waste time and do not get into the business until the last 30 minutes of the movie.  Although character development is important, spending three quarters of the duration for that without advancing the plot is overkill.  Dialogues are frequently interrupted, just as the flow of movie is frequently interrupted by flashbacks.  This is very annoying.  Whatever that made the novel worked must have gone from this movie.  In fact the ending is different, and it seems that important subplots are dropped.

Review: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

I’m happy to see a remake of Excalibur (1981).  Unfortunately, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Blu-ray release 2017-8-8) is nothing like that.  No Merlin to be seen in this movie.  Mordred (the bad guy in the legend) dies at the beginning.  The charm of the legend is lost in this reinvented story.  As another reviewer pointed out, this is just a Lion King (1994) story.  That being said, the battle scenes against the monsters are quite stylish, although occasionally some action lacks clarity – in particular, I couldn’t see precisely how Mordred is defeated.  I also find the fast cuts in the narrative annoying.  Although it is not what I want it to be, as a generic fantasy action movie I find it acceptably entertaining.  Since it is a flop, without a sequel I don’t even get to see Merlin.

Review: The Circle (2017)

The Circle (Blu-ray release 2017-8-1) is adapted from a novel.  The protagonist works for a leading tech company that collects everyone’s data to make new features and services, with absolutely no regard for privacy.  Although privacy vs functionality is a worthwhile subject, much of the movie is a setup for the final act which is not convincing or satisfying.  Some aspects like biosensors that monitor the human body 7×24 are raised, but they are not really discussed further.  Some of the supporting characters also do not get enough screen time for their impact to be fully understood.

Note: the movie ending is different from the novel.

Review: Tunnel (2016)

Tunnel (Blu-ray release 2017-5-19) is a Korean disaster movie about a man who gets trapped in a tunnel.  This movie is distinctly different from Hollywood disaster movies, and is more focused on character and social satire.  So there is less excitement and tension here, but people who prefer drama may like it.  Although I think this is a good drama, there are certain things which are really unrealistic, such as how long the smartphone battery lasted.  (Although disaster movies are always unrealistic, in this particular case this factor is more important than other brainless ones that exist only to show off visual effects.)