Review: Attraction (2017)

I love the opening of Attraction (2017) – Russian fighters shoot down an UFO, causing it to crash land in Russia while taking out the ceiling of the room where the protagonist is about to have sex.  Of the few Russian movies I’ve watched, this opening is the most impressive, and does not lose to Hollywood counterparts.

Unfortunately, things go downhill after the opening.  The alien turns out to be a tall and handsome guy who speaks human language perfectly, not unlike I Am Number Four (2011).  He saves the protagonist, so she decides to help him go home, not unlike E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982).  I don’t mind the alien being a handsome love interest – this movie is called Attraction after all, even though the romance is average.  I do mind that the protagonist is a rebellious daughter (or son), that’s about the next worst thing than annoying children in movies.  To make it even worse, the protagonist chooses a really bad and not handsome guy to be her boyfriend before dumping him for the handsome alien.

The concept of the movie is fine even if not especially original, but various things do not make much sense.  Even if the alien speaks perfect Russian he decides not to communicate well, thereby creating military tension and putting himself at great risk.  The alien has super technology and an army of AI-controlled droids but is somehow vulnerable against an average teenager.  Earlier in the movie it says the UFO is 30% damaged, but then it turns out to be fully operational.

Review: Fifty Shades Darker

Fifty Shades Darker (Blu-ray release 2017-5-9) follows the romantic development of the protagonists, who are back together in no time after breaking up at the end of the previous movie.  Although the story should have been rich with several subplots and seemingly important characters, those subplots and characters are not developed in any depth at all, and are resolved quickly with zero consequence in this movie.  This problem reduces the overall dramatic impact.

Review: Rings (2017)

Rings (2017) is the third entry in The Ring (2002) series, which in turn was a remake of the Japanese horror movie Ring (1998).  As before it is still about people getting killed 7 days after watching a cursed videotape.  The story is mostly a rehash of itself, so this is an unnecessary sequel.  However, I like the several ghost scenes in this movie more than the recent Japanese Sadako movies – which may have slightly more creativity in the plot, but do not really make sense or feel right.

Review: Chinyuki

Chinyuki (Blu-ray release 2017-4-13) is adapted from a manga series, which in turn was a parody of the Chinese literature Journey to the West.  I loosely remember that every single one of the recent movie adaptations of the Journey to the West from China happened to be average or bad.  I never expected that Japan managed to produce something even worse than the Chinese productions on this subject.  There’s not even a partially complete story here, and the movie is mostly concerned with butt and fart jokes.

Review: Death Note: Light Up the New World

Death Note: Light Up the New World (Blu-ray release 2017-4-19) is the sequel to Death Note 2: The Last Name (2006).  10 years after the previous movie, the film company decides they want to earn more money from this franchise, so Shinigami drops more Death Note to the world, such that random people can perform mass killings by writing people’s names in the Death Note.  In L’s absence we have his successor investigating the new deaths and to find out the new Kira – the mastermind behind the new killings.

Before the climax, the movie is ok but not exciting.  During the early part of the climax, some stupidity is involved – this is unforgivable because Death Note investigations have to be really intelligent.  In order to have a surprising ending, it degrades into a series of nonsense.

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a good, but not really great, funny action movie.  The CG action sequences are fine, but they do not look truly original or exciting.  Father-son relationships are important to this story and give it some depth.  The screenplay really tries hard to make the audience laugh, far more than the typical Marvel movies.

Note that there are 5 extra scenes during and after the credits.

Review: Cook Up a Storm (決戰食神)

決戰食神 (Cook Up a Storm) (Blu-ray release 2017-4-13) is a Hong Kong Chinese New Year movie that mostly consists of a series of cooking competitions.  We have a great cast with a very weak screenplay, as usual.  There is some kind of unwritten nonsense rule in the competition regarding who can proceed to the next round.  Several subplots are underwritten and therefore unsatisfactory.  With these flaws corrected it might even be a good movie.

Review: Your Lie in April / Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso Live Action Movie (2016) vs Anime

Your Lie in April (Blu-ray release 2017-4-12) is a live action adaptation of a manga series.  The protagonist stopped playing piano because he could no longer hear the piano tones since the death of his mother.  A violinist girl shows up, and invites him to play a violin / piano duet with her.

As a standalone movie, it is not bad.  The main storyline is still mostly the same as the charming original, and the romance aspect is still good.  However, the 22-episode anime (2014-2015) is so much better, even after considering the comparatively limited duration of the movie.  The live action version takes a different approach in some areas that undermines the dramatic and visual impact seriously.

MINOR SPOILERS

Firstly, the inability to hear piano tone is done badly and is much less obvious in the movie.  In the anime we get a deep sea representation of it, coupled with muffled sounds, and a haunting hallucination of the dead mother – this visual portrayal of the difficulty involved is truly important.  Likewise, when this inability is explained as a gift, the movie fails to elaborate it other than saying it lets music flow from the heart.  The recovery as presented in the movie also brings much less impact.

Dramatically, the anime makes it clear that the situation with the girl is reminiscent of that of the mother, and the protagonist has to go through this difficulty again.  The movie removed this dramatic comparison.  The original story has a one line dialogue that says the protagonist needs to grow by facing tragedies.  I think this is an important justification of the story, but is again removed from the movie.

If anyone thinks that a live action movie must have everything realistic, that is most certainly false, as perfectly demonstrated in Beauty and the Beast (2017).  The movie makes this mistake and removes all the fantasy-style depiction of the emotion of music.  In the anime the screen is filled with colors, and the audience says they see the music is colorful.  In the movie we don’t get much from the audience to express their approval of the music – not even a “Bravo!”.  We are only told later that the performance was good enough so they continue to be invited for further performances.

The climactic scene in the anime has a beautiful background of sky and clouds, and more visual effects on the girl.  There are many different varieties of shots of the piano at different angles, the protagonist, and close-ups of different things.  There is also special lighting of the stage.  The movie drops the beautiful background, and has much less varieties of the shots, making a dull climax.

P.S. Watching the anime I found that it shares a common theme with Neon Genesis Evangelion – both protagonists try to run away from difficulties, and are saved by a group of women.

 

Review: The Fate of the Furious

In The Fate of the Furious, a new villain shows Dom a video, and somehow forces him to turn against his own team in a world threatening crisis.  This franchise is always about vehicles – we even get a submarine this time.  When the plot is revealed it shares some common elements from those old 007 movies, but the action sequences are much crazier.  What I love about this franchise is that it always show us something new, however unreasonable that may be.

Review: Satoshi: A Move for Tomorrow

Satoshi: A Move for Tomorrow (Blu-ray release 2017-4-28) is a biography movie about a prodigy in the Japanese chess known as shogi.  He has a kidney disease since childhood, and eventually gets cancer.  Time runs out for his life just as time runs out in his every move in shogi competitions.  We see his perseverance in the competitions despite his declining health.

The movie did the best it could with the shogi competition scenes, in which people just sit there and think – it managed to show the pressure via facial and body expressions.  This is the type of slow-paced movie which mainly conveys emotion instead of rich drama.  I think it is well done as a truthful biography, but not everybody like to read non-fiction biography.