Fifty Shades of Grey: Movie Better Than The Book?

You know that odd creepy feeling whereby as the film rolls, each scene reminds you vividly pages from a book that you have read long time ago? Down to the dialogues, the expression, and everything in between? I just had that odd creepy feeling tonight. Oh, that lip biting.

Yep, that much talked about movie.

Many years ago, I was curious. So I picked up Fifty Shades and wanted to know what the hype was about. I didn’t quite enjoy it. As an erotic novel, it is not that steamy. As a literature, it is not that classy. I don’t recall being able to even finish one book.

I didn’t plan to watch Fifty Shades in cinema. I wouldn’t know of its opening if not for an article from CNN I’ve read today. Something to do with the fire department reminding the people to keep the keys handy when using handcuffs. Each ‘rescue’ costs around $500 and it could become costly to the taxpayers.

But I love the soundtrack of this movie. Ellie Goulding’s Love Me Like You Do is easily my favorite. Then there are Annie Lennox, Beyoncé, Sia, Skylar Grey, and The Rolling Stones – just to name a few. That is one of my motivation to watch this film.

I had pretty low expectation when I walked into the cinema this evening, with my wife. Many things could have gone wrong with sadomasochism. It could have been at best awkward to watch, at worst I could have been disgusted by the content. Fortunately, it is nothing of that sort.

It is artistic to me. I can sense the chemistry between Christian and Anastasia. I can also relate – or rather observe – the emotional complexity of the both. A dominant figure like Christian could invoke hate from the audience. A submissive figure like Ana could invoke disdain. But I don’t end up disliking the characters. I get why the characters are doing what they are doing. I am convinced. That is most important I guess, though I am not agreeable with the topic of sadomasochism.

I enjoy its authenticity to the book. I enjoy the film better because I can better visualize the glamour and beauty. The film also makes use of clever transition when dealing with some rather boring stuffs from the book. Like that contract.

Both main characters have great body and the filming is artistic. I have no idea how long the actors have practiced on the S&M scenes. I certainly would have no clue how to use those ‘toys’ with such fluidity. Make no mistakes though. This is not porn. If you are looking for the eroticism within, you are likely to be utterly bored.

X-Men: Days of Future Past Is Amazing

X-Men Days of the Future Past

A bunch of us who are playing this Marvel themed online game were super excited for a get together event to watch X-Men Days of Future Past. Some of us have not met each other before the show. But one passion binds us together – Marvel. So we met up. All of us were kind of surprised at how we look like in real life. For example, one best known as Iron-Man is actually pretty hilarious in person. And Dr. Strange is a lot taller than I thought. They in turn were marveled at my ‘multi-tone’ hair highlight and that I am much – shall I say – matured looking than who they think I am. What they don’t know is that my hair was having this special effect even during my younger years. It is just a matter of days of my present past. What do they think of Rocket Raccoon a.k.a. my wife? Err. OK. Next.

I did not like the previous X-Men movie back in 2011. But you know me. Short term memory. And I am always excited by what is to come. The story is set in the future, when the war between the mutants (and the humans that side with them) and the sentinels is almost over. Mutants are facing extinction. The future is bleak. What an incredible fight for survival these mutants have put up against the formidable foes. The amount of teamwork is amazing. Blink (Fan Bingbing) opens up portals at strategic places, Colossus goes in for the punch. Iceman and Sunspot tackle the enemies with ice and fire. Storm powers Bishop’s weapon and Bishop goes in for the kill at range. Even with such teamwork the mutants are not able to take down the sentinels. Because the sentinels manage to absorb and adapt to the mutants’ power. It is always Shadowcat (Ellen Page) sending Bishop back in time to warn the mutants so as to avert the attack (now, I had no idea that Kitty Pryde has this sort of power!). That breathtaking last moment between victory and total annihilation.

But the mutants are tired of running. Professor X and Magneto have decided to send Wolverine back into the past and prevent that one single event that led to where they are in the future – the capture of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence). Eventually her DNA was being studied and used to enhance the sentinels as the ultimate mutant killing machines.

The story is intriguing. Although it may not be considered as a true Marvel story – since it is common to have alternative realities when it comes to Marvel characters -I found the plot of Days of Future Past acceptable. It has also undone some of the unpopular movie endings in the past through time travel. So I am cool with it and am looking forward to more X-Men movies.

The casting is fantastic. Hugh Jackman is so perfect for the role as Wolverine. Both the younger versions of Professor X and Magneto have done well too. Key to the story is Mystique. I was unsure how our Hunger Game heroine Jennifer Lawrence would perform as a blue mutant. She has handled the multidimensional character well. Being someone strong but yet emotionally fragile, threading a thin line that separates the good and the evil. She has a decision to make. Can she change the future? This movie got me hooked from beginning to end.

Of Captain America The Winter Soldier And The Amazing Spider-Man 2

What a treat for Marvel fans this year. Earlier on, we have the follow-up movies for Captain America and Spider-Man. Later, we will have X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy. Some of us who are fans of the online game Marvel Heroes have already planned to meet up and watch the upcoming X-Men together.

Captain America 2 and Spider-Man 2

3 years ago, my wife and I have watched the Captain America movie. I love his personality being so close to people on the ground. 3 years later set in modern time, Captain America is on a mission with Black Widow. The plot I must admit sounded complicated initially. Had I not been introduced to the Hydra organization thanks to that online game I am playing, I would have been pretty lost because I don’t read that much comic. As far as the story goes, S.H.I.E.L.D. is infiltrated and no one can be trusted. It is up to Captain America in leading the people out of the crisis. The villain turns out to be Captain’s best friend and now called Winter Soldier. This film has plenty of action as well as good plot twists. Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson are both charming on screen. What I found missing or what I really wish to see was some romance in the story, which is none. That leads to the second movie my wife and I have watched – The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

It is hard not to love Spider-Man. He is agile and funny. And he is popular. Andrew Garfield is the perfect actor for this role. There is a vulnerable side of his. But also possess an inner strength and determination that I feel lacking in the previous incarnations. Spider-Man is a super hero after all and he has to be strong. I also happen to like Emma stone as Spider-Man’s love interest. Gwen Stacy is not portrayed as some girls who are helpless without her superhero boyfriend. Being a real life couple may have explained the amazing on-screen chemistry. Plot-wise, this movie is not as memorable as Captain America’s. But I was thoroughly entertained and enthralled by the story between Spider-Man and Gwen Stacy.

Both are good movies. I can’t wait to watch the next two!

The Pill – Love the Dialog and Drama

The Pill is a 2011 American romantic comedy film starring Rachel Boston and Noah Bean.

I chanced upon this 2011 movie while exploring movies over Netflix that have Rachel McAdams in it (somehow, Rachel Boston appears as a ‘close match’).  I was intrigued by the synopsis and since I enjoy watching romantic comedy genre, why not give it a go?  The story is incredibly straightforward.  A man (Noah Bean) and a woman (Rachel Boston) has a one-night-stand.  In the following morning, the man is concerned that the woman may become pregnant and insists that she should take a morning after pill.  At the pharmacy counter, the man discovers that one pill has to be taken immediately while another, 12 hours later.  So, he has to find a way to hang out with the woman he barely knows for half a day making sure that she will take the pill.  And she has no clue that there is a second pill to be taken.  Meanwhile, the woman just comes out of a long relationship and the man actually has a live-in girlfriend to go home to.

I like The Pill because the film focuses on the drama and the dialog.  There is plenty of acting involved while the rest like backdrop, effect, and soundtrack is kept to the minimal.  It reminds of films like Before Sunrise whereby the actors keep on talking throughout the movie.  Everything is stripped to basic excepts character development.  Love it.  It is a lighthearted sort of movie and is not as unbelievable as some of the bigger budget Hollywood romance comedy.  It simply presents the possibility of falling in love.

The Hunger Game: Catching Fire – A Spontaneous Watch

The second episode of The Hunger Game.

In a rare occasion, I managed to have a decent eight hours sleep on Saturday.  I can count how many times that has happened in the past seven months with my one hand.  Jolly mood I was at, without having this wanting to fall asleep every other minute throughout the day, I made a list of suggestions on where to go for lunch.  My wife Cynthia has picked a Chinese restaurant in the airport called Crystal Jade, which is around 25 km from our home.  I was lunching at the same place the day before with my colleague June.  My wife asked if it was OK for me to dine in the same restaurant two days in a roll.  I am happy to.  June has planned to bring her family to Crystal Jade on Saturday for dinner.  Imagine her surprise if I was to tell her that I too have brought my family all the way to Changi for food.  The love we have for Crystal Jade, try not to underestimate.

I did not plan to return home immediately after our little excursion to the east side of Singapore.  After our sumptuous meal, I took out my tablet and secretly check out the movie schedule near our location.  The Hunger Game was showing in a cinema 10 minutes’ drive away from us.  I asked Cynthia if she has an appointment at four and she said no.  So I booked the tickets online and then told her that we were going for a movie.  Everyone loves a little surprise, once in a while.

It was the first time we visited the mall Downtown East.  If Changi – where I work – is far from where we live, Pasir Ris is even more remote.  I do not know what places of interest are in Pasir Ris.  Downtown East is one.  Pasir Ris Park – where we had our dinner later on – is another.

The mall looks different from the rest that we have seen.  We felt as though we were in Malaysia, or in Bandung Indonesia.  There is nothing too exciting inside the mall and the cinema only has four screens.  Perhaps that is the very reason why we still managed to get good seats so close to showtime.

Catching Fire is a two and a half hours movie.  It is a pretty lengthy movie, just like the first one.  At the end of last episode, both Katniss and Peeta from District 12 (I always thought he is ‘Peter’) have won the game – a first time in history to have two tributes surviving the game.  In this second episode, following the tradition, the winner or in this case winners have to make a tour through the districts and pay respect to the fallen tributes.  The concept is kind of odd to me.  I mean, there is this game whereby tributes against their will are killing each other in order to survive.  And in the end, the survivors visit the homes of the fallen ones to … I don’t know … to gloat?  To apologize?  To say, a battle well fought?  Only Panem can think of a sick tradition like this.

But here is the irony.  The movie has gone in great length dealing with character development that is lacking in action but essential in giving meaning to this meaningless game.  And then when the game finally came, I wasn’t sure if I really wanted it because it is so sick that I hate it.  I cannot pinpoint what I am attracted to.  Perhaps I wanted so bad to know how Katniss can beat the game again.  Other moral conflicts, I can deal with them another day.

When Katniss and Peeta are back in the game – think Survivor All-Star – the pace of the movie picked up tremendously.  It may not be as exciting as the first episode because I can more or less anticipate what is to come, it is still exciting to watch.

Like some other trilogies, Catching Fire being the middle episode sandwiched between a fresh beginning and a climatic ending is neither here nor there.  I wish the game was longer, the on-screen romance was more convincing and intense.  I can also understand that if it was so, it would look like a repeat of the first episode.  It is not quite an ending that concludes this second episode, but rather an opening for the third.  Since I am a fan of the franchise, Catching Fire is a must watch, for me.

After the movie, Cynthia and I have decided to have our dinner at Pasir Ris Park.  Long time ago, we used to frequent the place.  After the government has got rid of many of the eating places there (oh those BBQ chicken wings we so dearly miss!), we have stopped visiting.  On our previous visit, it was raining hard.  We still remember how all of us dinners squeezed into every last bit of shelter trying to have our meal without getting too wet.  The restaurant is by the beach and has an open area concept.  On Saturday, we have visited the same restaurant again.  The air was fresh.  Facing the beach in near pitch dark, it was rather romantic.  What a day.