Recently seen in cinemas

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Have seen the following movies in the cinema lately.

“Batman Begins” – Finally! I have been wanting to watch this movie for the longest time and was curious about how good it is given so many good word of mouth about the movie. Indeed, it is quite good. Chirstian Bale played the Batman role very well and his transformation into Batman is very convincing. Other superb performance include that of Michael Caine (I really like his performance in “The Quiet American”. I also liked the movie a lot) and Liam Neeson (but perhaps Steven Seagal would be a better choice?). However, I did not quite like Katie Holmes' performance. Her role was also not very convincing. I think it is the only thing that really sucks about the movie. Christopher Nolan did not disappoint. That guy has talent.

“War of the Worlds” – One thing we must really give credit to the Hollywood team is their ability to create such cinematic spectacles. We are not talking about great cinema. We are talking about great spectacles. To see and hear something that a lot of us will not be able to see nor hear in our whole lifetime. In this, it is engaging and exciting. It entertains. It is also dumb but like a person that I know said, great movies exist because dumb movies exist. So, overall, War of the Worlds is not really that bad although you would like to scream out loud how stupid it is. But afterall, it was based on H.G. Wells' story, so is H.G. Wells stupid as well? hmmm…. I think it is really in the execution of it. Somehow the story did not come out well on the big screen. When you read the book, it was really engaging and you won't feel it's stupid. Maybe it's all due to Tom Cruise's face.

“Seven Swords” – What is quite obvious after watching this movie is that Tsui Hark is trying to go back to his earlier style as we have seen in “Once Upon A Time in China”. However, somehow, the movie did not really work. However, it is definitely much better than “The Legend of Zu”. That movie was an embarassment, with all due respects. Anyway, apparently Tsui Hark said that “The Legend of Zu” was only an experiment and he will never attempt anything like that again.

One major dissatisfaction I have with the movie is the very weak character development for each of the roles. It appears that Tsui Hark is rushing through the movie without giving enough time to properly flesh out the characters. Apparently, he will be doing so in the much longer DVD release (it was said that the DVD will play for 4 hours!).

In general, there is nothing much that is new in this movie. The fighting choreography is really nothing spectacular. Too many tight shots and you see weapons flying on the screen without seeing much what is really happening. The editing is rough. The sound (especially the dubbing) is rough. The cinematography is quite good although I felt that several scenes are under lit. There are also a few scenes that I felt dragged on for so long and can actually be cut short so that more screen time can be allocated to develop the characters more solidly. You will notice that most scenes featuring the beautiful Kim So-yeon has some extended screen time.

Well, anyway, not really that bad. This film is watchable and if you like Hong Kong movies and/or like martial arts movie, you should go.

“Gol & Gincu” – This is one of the latest Malaysian movies that is supposedly part of the Malaysian New Wave, comprising of people from the advertising industry (Yasmin Ahmad, Saw Teong Hin, Osman Ali, Bernard Chauly et. al.) and some short films makers (James Lee, Amir Mohammad, Ho Yuhang et. al).

This is Bernard's maiden feature length movie and you will be able to see that he and his team is pouring their hearts out for this movie. The production design, the screenplay, the cinematography is up to par and is better than our average Malay movie. However, the story is quite weak. I cannot but feel that this is the Malaysian remake of “Legally Blond” with a touch of “Ada Apa Dengan Cinta” and “Bend it Like Becham”.

The social issue that it tried to potray, i.e. the incest, was not, in my opinion, well handled. If the director and screenwriter want to address the issue, it should deal with it in more depth. Else, just let it be a passing remark instead of making it part of the character. I also felt that there is a homosexual undertone to it and I felt that the director was trying to make it a bit subtle by making use of metaphors.

It was shot with the Panasonic Varicam HD camera and the video post production was done at Siam Lab. The HD is quite good although definitely not as good as film. It is still quite flat and do not have the depth and feel a 35mm film can give you. But it has to be noted that the HD people do not intend to equate HD with film. That is not their purpose. They merely offered a digital alternative and expanding the tools of which the directors can showcase their dreams on the silver screen. HD is really great if you intend to do a lot of CGI like in Star Wars or if you need a lot of retakes such as using inexperienced stars and/or crew.

Fazura did well in her role and she did appear to be quite charming. I look forward to more roles for her in the future. However, the male lead is quite bad.

So, in summary, great effort. Good production standards. Two things that really mar it. The weak story (not screenplay, mind you) and an inexperience team of actors. It also needs some originality.

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