Jupiter Ascending – The Good, The Bad, And Everything In Between

Do The Wachowskis manage to recreate the success they have with The Matrix in Jupiter Ascending? The short answer is no. But if you are a fan of sci-fi, this movie can be pretty entertaining and exciting to watch in parts. Somewhere in the middle though, one dude fell asleep in the cinema and snored very loudly. I don’t blame him. Luckily I had a good night sleep the day before.

Yep, it is Jupiter Ascending.

The story is very promising. Three alien siblings together they own the galaxy through capitalism. They populate the planet with species and once the planet is overpopulated, they harvest the entire local inhabitants in order to manufacture an essence that restores youth for profit. Time is the currency most sought after at the pinnacle of technology. These enterprises are to be blamed for the extinction of dinosaurs in Earth. Who am I to complain?

The mother of the siblings – the queen of the galaxy – was murdered by one of her children long, long time ago. Millenniums later, she is reincarnated as an earthling named Jupiter Jones played by Mila Kunis. One sibling sends in agents to assassinate this new queen-to-be. Another sibling sends in a hunter played by Channing Tatum to protect or capture Jupiter, depending on how you see it. The third sibling sends in agents to kidnap her. In the mist of all these chaos, Earth is due for harvesting. Can Jupiter Jones who cleans wealthy households for a living save the world?

The movie started off OK with Jupiter Jones going about with her chores, very much like Neo in The Matrix. Very soon, audience are bombarded by over the top CGI effect that is very nice to look at, but with little soul in it. There isn’t much character development at that point. And when it does, without the CGI, the drama between each siblings and the main characters seems dull and low key. Audience are on the fence waiting for the next bang to arrive.

The last part of the movie is in fact pretty good. Now that the context is established, the CGI strikes an emotional core. This movie does end in a high note.

Onto the acting, Channing Tatum is doing well (also one of the reasons why I catch this movie). It is hard to fall in love with Mila Kunis’s acting though. Side by side with Channing, Mila doesn’t seem to be at the same level. Then again, it is relatively hard to fall in love with a character that starts off cleaning houses and there isn’t really a moment in the story for her to transform into someone great. She inherits the title of the queen of galaxy in a rather unceremonious fashion. Not to mention the character doesn’t have new-found ‘power’ (they should have expanded on the bee controlling thing). Jupiter Jones suppose to be witty. But the way she foils the evil plots of the siblings is just … elemental. It doesn’t demonstrate how smart she is. So, what is there to love Jupiter Jones the character besides those big beautiful eyes?

For what it is worth, the movies does tell me one thing. Capitalism is bad, for the galaxy.

Magic Mike – Tastefully Done

There are two types of audience for the male strippers movie Magic Mike, I think.  The ones who like to stare at men’s near naked body down to their bare butts.  Or men who bring their girlfriends or wives to watch this film hoping to get them horny.  I, on the record, have vehemently said no to this movie.  But Cynthia insisted and kept on saying the magic word ‘Magic Mike’ every morning.  Magic Mike, Magic Mike, Magic Mike.  I gave in, on the condition that my buddy TK would agree to watch a male strippers show.  It was almost a flawless plan.  No way he would agree to it.  Except, TK had no idea what Magic Mike was and eagerly said yes, a tad too fast on Whatsapp.  The rest was history.

In the opening sense, when the perfectly oiled body of Matthew McConaughey came on stage and danced in front of a house full of cheering girl and as he slowly peeled away pieces of his costume one by one leaving only the – I presume – buffed up crotch garment on, I almost fainted.  STOP, right there!  Fortunately he left that essential piece of clothes on, like Adam and Eve and the hanging green leaves.

To my surprise, I enjoyed watching Magic Mike.  The story is original.  McConaughey plays Dallas who runs a male strip club.  One day, Mike (Channing Tatum) introduces Adam, a 19 years old teenage heartthrob played by Alex Pettyfer to the business.  Dallas dubs Adam as The Kid and Adam is an immediate success.  Money, women, and a sense of freedom – to a slacker like Adam who has thrown away his football scholarship, this new lifestyle is irresistible.  I can sense that Mike can see a younger version of him in Adam whenever he looks at Adam.

Meanwhile, there is another side of Mike who sees being a male stripper is only a mean to an end.  But to what end?  It is one man’s journey to finding his worth.  Meeting Adam’s sister  Brooke (Cody Horn) may have awaken something within him.  Dallas’s club is going big hitting Miami.  Adam being the new kid in the block has now become Dallas’s new favorite threatening Mike as Dallas’s right hand man.  What is Mike going to do?

Channing Tatum plays a charming character.  Not only on stage, but also off the stage.  I know he can dance.  It is good to see that he can act convincingly as well.  I also happen to enjoy Cody Horn’s acting.  So innocent and pure.  Matthew McConaughey has a commanding presence that is a major contributor to the theme of this show.  There is a lot of entertainment on stage.  Some of the dance sequences are hilarious.  There are a fair bit of sex scenes too.  But like the stripping act, they are tastefully done.  Magic Mike is way more than stripping.  You would end up liking every single characters, like I do.  I also like how the filmmakers handle the film’s ending.

Now, if there was a film called Magic Maggie with female strippers and all, I wonder how that would work out.

The Vow – What if One is to Lose Years of Memory?

Woah.  Just imagine.  If one is to lose years of memory, how would that change his or her life and those around?  While facts of life like who the parents are do not change over time, our recent hobbies, our career, love life, recently acquired skills, friends, things that we shouldn’t have done but did, and things that we should have done but didn’t  do.

That’s why my friends, blogging is good.  While one may forget where he or she stores the diary (if you have one), a website is [more or less] always there.  I see blogging as an extension of my memory, as well as the memory of some of those who are around me.

I guess reading recent events that one has forgotten is not the same as restoring one’s memory.  It is not the same as living it, is it?  And here we are, a movie inspired by true events.  The Vow tells a story of a married couple.  After a road accident, the wife has lost her recent memory.  To the new her, the husband is a stranger and her ex-fiance still gives her butterflies in the stomach.  The recent life changing decisions, all wiped off from her memory.  Given this unfortunately event, can the husband win his wife’s love the second time?

All along, I thought The Vow was a romance comedy.  OK, comedy or not, it is a technical definition.  At the end of the movie, inside the theater, TK on my left said, “This is not a comedy”.  Cynthia on the right said, “This is not a comedy”.  Fine.  Cynthia did cry.  It is an emotional drama.  There are tons of on-screen chemistry between the main characters, in a moving plot.  We felt the pain and joy, and everything else in between.

I am a fan of Rachel McAdams.  To me, she could well be one of the most charming actresses in Hollywood.  Cynthia seems quite pleased with the rather handsome looking Tatum, whom I wish he would supplement his acting with some danceing (he is good at it I remember).  The Vow is about seeing a glass half empty or half full.  It is a story of a second chance not to be used to wipe off the past, but to relive the good and the bad once again.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra – Loved It Or Hated It?

GI Joe

Ah ha!  I so didn’t choose this movie to watch.  Apparently, the ban is still on.  Because I chose that Thai film that nobody seems to enjoy watching.  OK, I shall leave the decision making process to the rest of the Movie Review Squad.  We all know that the critics have beaten this one bad.  But it’s a genre we love to watch.  We went into the theatre with open minds, with little expectation.

I can understand why some hated “G.I. Joe” the movie.  Most highlighted that the storyline is ‘stupid’, the script is weak, and the effect is too ‘over-the-top’.  Some even compare this to the Transformer franchise (which I am pretty sure it works for some).  To be fair, like our friend TK has pointed out to me, “G.I. Joe” started off as action figures sold by a toy company.  It evolves into comics and cartoons and surprise, surprise, video games in the late eighties, early nineties.  To me, the entire movie felt exactly like watching a video game on a very big screen.  Maybe that’s why “G.I. Joe” is breathtaking to me in its own way.  Yes, audio checked, video checked.  What I found lacking – strange to say and no fault of the filmmakers – is the kinetic interaction like what we gamers derived in computer gaming.  Throughout the show, I felt like grabbing my invisible mouse and keyboard and get involved in the storyline, the hack and slash, or the massive explosions.  What you see on the big screen is only half of what gamers are experiencing, minus the interaction bits.  Back to the movie, when I first saw the underwater fortress and the mad scientist, that is so BioShock.  The military suit?  Crysis has it with the “nano suit” doing quite similar things that the Joes are doing on screen.  And I had flashbacks on Mass Effect. It must be those military command ships and characters in costumes.

I have no idea why Cynthia and TK enjoy “G.I. Joe” (I reckon she likes the actor Channing Tatum).  For me, I couldn’t help but chuckle (in a good way) whenever something unbelievable happen.  It helps when I don’t question some of the logics (seasoned computer gamer I am, just enjoy the ride).  Some asked why do they need to ‘weaponize’ a weapon by charging the nano warhead at a particle accelerator only to be fired off by human hands?  Well, if the story says so, it is so.

I like the car racing scene in Paris.  I like the lady in black hair more then the red head.  Seeing the Korean actor Lee Byung-hun on big screen is cool.  Classic movie it is not.  But I may consider watching the sequels.