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My Rating: 4Stars

This evening I saw the movie Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time at UA Cinema, Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. One of the movies from my Must See Movies list.

The video game Prince of Persia was created by Jordan Mechner for Brøderbund in 1989, and ever since it has been refined and republished by different game companies over the years, with Ubisoft being the last to do so. Now in 2010 a movie had been released staring Jake Gyllenhaal of Brokeback Mountain fame. Aside from Ben Kingsley the rest of the casts are mostly unknowns.

Being an action movie, it contains many fighting sequences between with the hero, Dastan (Prince of Persia played by Gyllenhaal) and his enemies, executing parkour and mix martial arts (MMA) techniques to overcome his enemies, this use of parkour gives the movie an acrobatic dance and light hearted feel.

Adding to the light hearted feel are humorous scenes between the hero and heroine, Tamina (played by Gemma Arterton). Underneath all these is a sound and fairly believable plot with the usual twists and turns to keep the audience guessing, but simple enough to allow the audience to enjoy the action and sceneries of the movie.

Although it has been a while (2005) since Gyllenhaal has a hit he did a good job here. If you're looking for an entertaining evening out, this movie should be top on your list.

Rating Legend:
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy from iTunes Store
2Stars Rent it on iTunes
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere
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AuthorVinko
CategoriesMovie Review

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My Rating: 3Stars

This evening I saw the movie Alice in Wonderland in 3D at AMC Cinemas, Pacific Place, Admiralty, Hong Kong. One of the movies from my Must See Movies list.

This Tim Burton sequel to the original Alice in Wonderland movie from 1903, began the story with a 19 years old Alice Kingsleigh who just lost her father and is about to be married in an arranged marriage with the son of his father's ex-partner. Alice (Mia Wasikowska), got distracted and followed the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen) into a rabbit hole once more and began her adventure in Wonderland.

In Wonderland there is a battle between the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) and the White Queen (Anne Hathaway), in which Red Queen won and took over Wonderland. The White Rabbit was sent by Dormouse (Barbara Windsor), Dodo bird (voice of Michael Gough), and Tweedledee / Tweedledum (Matt Lucas) to look for Alice, because The Scroll claims that on the Frabjous Day, Alice will return to slay the Jabberwocky (Christopher Lee). Along the way Alice runs into her old friend Hatter (Johnny Depp) and he further explains to Alice what she needs to do.

Carter gave a familiar performance as she did with her character in Sweeney Todd, which Depp starred as Sweeney Todd. The Australian actress Wasikowska played a wonderful Alice, someone innocent, determine, ambitious and full of imaginations.

The special effect was okay and the 3D affects were minimal. I would not suggest going to see the 3D version of the film, as I believe the extra cost is not worth it. Rather I wish I had simply chosen a theater with a large screen and good sound system.

Rating Legend:
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy from iTunes Store
2Stars Rent it on iTunes
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere
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AuthorVinko
CategoriesMovie Review

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My Rating: 4Stars

This afternoon I saw the movie Avatar 3D at UA Cinema, Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. One of the movies from my Must See Movies list.

Before I went to see the movie I questioned my decision to pay the extra cost to watch the 3D version of the movie, but after watching just the opening credits I realized I had made the right decision. Above all the three times Oscar winning Canadian director, James Cameron wrote and filmed this movie with digital 3D cameras in mind. Therefore to experience the movie as Cameron originally intended, one will definitely have to watch the 3D version.

Aside from the direction, the artifical set of Pandora is beautifully created, matched with perfect original score. It is no wonder that the movie had already received 9 award nominations; including Best Director, Best Visual Effect and Best Origianl Score.

Half way into this almost three hours long movie, I finally understand why others referred to the movie as "Dancing With Smurf", a play on the title of the 1990 movie, Dancing With Wolves, staring Kevin Costner. Although, as most will agree the Na'vi is not as cute as the Smurfs.

The movie rehashes the plot of big corporations taking advantage of natives (the Na'vi) and what appeared to be the under privillaged, for their own corporate benefits. It also highlights the issues of one group trying to impose its own believes and values onto another. Which is the basis of the USA foriegn policies. Of course, it also had to include the chic topic of being more aware of our environment and suroundings.

The movie starts with Sam Worthington's charater Jake Sully, an ex-Marine, finding out his twin brother; a scientist for the corporation, died. Since avatars are grown as human Na'vi hybrides and genetically matched to the human counter part. The corporation did not want to waste the costly avatar offered Jake, his brother's job of operating an avatar on Pandora. Seeing this as a chance for Jake to walk again he took the job. What Jake did not know is that the corporation is minning for the valuable Unobtanium mineral at Pandora, where the largest deposit on the planet is underneath one of the Na'vi tribe's camp. The Avatar program is creates to gain the trust of the Na'vi, so they will move away from the camp, avoiding a military intervention to remove the tribe.

The technologies in the movie is very believable even for a technologist like myself. I particularly like the scene where the operator seamlessly drag an object from the big monitor to his tablet. Reminisce of Tom Cruise's Minority Report and wishfully the soon to arrive Mac Slate by Apple.

Yes the 3D version is more expensive but in most cities you will be able to find the cheaper version.

Rating Legend:
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy from iTunes Store
2Stars Rent it on iTunes
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere
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AuthorVinko
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My Rating: 1Stars

This afternoon I saw the movie The Storm Warriors at UA Cinema, Times Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Not one of the movies from my Must See Movies list.

This is a sequel to the 1998, The Storm Riders (風雲), also staring Aaron Kwok and Ekin Cheng; two of Hong Kong's big-time 90's pop singers. Both movies are based on the Chinese comic book written by Wing-Shing Ma, and directed by the twin directors Oxide Pang Chun and Danny Pang.

The twin directors were not bad when they directed Bangkok Dangerous (2008), although with Bangkok they have the Oscar winning Nicolas Cage to carry the movie. This time with Storm Warriors they had over-the-hill HK pop singers who pretend to be actors. In this movie Cheng and Kwok had the same facial expressions that they always had in movies they appear in.

The movie has a weak plot which is important as the rest of the movie are not able to support the movie to maintain the interest of the audiences. The story began with a warlord capturing the elites of martial artists around ancient China forcing them to follow him, and passing on their martial art secretes. Failing this the movie jumps to the warlord's hunt for a magical bone, whose location is only known by the emperor of China. In the mean time the good guys have decided that the only way to defeat the warlord is to have one of its lead martial artist go to the "dark" side. Yes, the scene literally mimicks Spider-Man III, and of course Star Wars in regards to the "dark" side.

They did spend a lot of money on special effects, but unfortunately, I few the various elements of the movie just do not compliment each other. I feel the editing, direction, cinematography, stunts, special effects and sound tracks all fight for the audience's attention. I particularly do not like the editing, which made the movie appear even slower than it is already is. Adding to that the inappropriate sound track, it actually distracts from the mood set by the scene/directions, making the whole scene awkward.

I never give Hong Kong movies much hope of being able to impress me, but The Storm Riders (風雲) was okay so I thought I give this one a try. After watching The Storm Warriors my opinions about Hong Kong movies has worsen.

Rating Legend:
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy from iTunes Store
2Stars Rent it on iTunes
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere
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AuthorVinko
CategoriesMovie Review

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My Rating: 4Stars

This evening I saw the movie Harry Potter and the Half - Blood Prince at Grand Cinema, Elements, West Kowloon, Hong Kong. Another one of the movies from my Must See Movies list.

This is the sixth movie in the series, after Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in 2001, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2002, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in 2004, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2005 and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in 2007.

I tried reading the book several times but for whatever reason I could not get past chapter 3 and started had to start from the beginning at least 4 times because I cannot remember where in the story I stopped at. Not sure whether this was due to the book's inability to capture my attention until the end. But having said that, if you are a Harry Potter fans this is again a must see.

I thought the lead actors: Daniel RadcliffeRupert Grint and Emma Watson did a good job in the previous movies, but I think they had even better performances in this one. May be it was their maturity as actors, after having five major blockbuster hits under their belts, or may be they realized they could not rely on their cute kid looks any more, as they are all much older.

Not having finished the book past third chapter, I found a lot of interesting moments and present surprises in the movie and plot. The special effets were very believable as in the past movies. I particular like its attention to details to ensure the audience have an immersed experience.

I can't wait to see the next movie in the series, which will be a two part movie, because the book (story) was too long. Fortunately, we don't have to wait too long, just Fall of 2010 for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I and Summer 2011 for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II. I don't think I will try to read the book before I go to them either.

Rating Legend:
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy from iTunes Store
2Stars Rent it on iTunes
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere
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AuthorVinko
CategoriesMovie Review

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My Rating: 4Stars

This afternoon I saw the movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine at Grand Theater, Elements, West Kowloon, Hong Kong. Another one of the movies from my Must See Movies list.

There had been many prequels in the past, for example: Star Trek Zero, Batman Begins and Quantum of Solace. Aside from the first one the rest were all fairly good movies, and the Star Trek prequel is not yet released until June in Hong Kong and May for the USA.

I normally do not like prequel much, not sure why, may be it has to do with the fact that I rather move forward with the story rather than speculate what was. The story of Wolverine was retold with just the right about of background for you to understand how the character develop. It also contain the right amount of actions and stunts to keep anyone who had not seen previous X-Men movies: X-MenX-Men United and X-Men: The Last Stand, entertained, while fans of the X-Men comic is now much more informed of the origin of Wolverine.

There wasn't much of a twist in the plot that I normally enjoy, but the actions and special effects were good enough to earn it 4 penguins from me.

The performance of Hugh Jackman was as expected playing the character Logan (aka Wolverine), which Jackman had been famous for since the first X-Men movie. Although Jackman had made other very good movies since the original X-Men (2000) like: Kate & Leopold (2001), Van Helsing (2004, review) and Deception. Not sure if this stereotyping will hurt Jackman or help his career.

This is definitely a must see for fans of the X-Men franchise, will this be first of the prequels? It is hard to tell, even for someone who does not like prequels, I do hope so.

Rating Legend:
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy from iTunes Store
2Stars Rent it on iTunes
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere
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AuthorVinko
CategoriesMovie Review

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My Rating: 4Stars

This afternoon I saw the movie Knowing at AMC Theater, Pacific Place, Admiralty, Hong Kong. Another one of the movies from my Must See Movies list.

After watching the poor performance of Dwayne Johnson in Race to Witch Mountain last week, I was glad to watch a seasoned actor, Nicolas Cage, delivering a great performance. Although Cage's performance is only great when compared to Johnson, here Cage was playing his "Ben Gates" character from National Treasure.

The thing that earned this movie an extra penguin in my rating was the story and the twists in the plot. It did not have as complicated of a plot as National Treasure, but contains enough suspense for the audience to want more. Without breaking my rule of no spoilers, there is really not much more I can say about the movie.

I can leave you with the following detail, as with I Am Legend the ending of this movie is a bit unexpected.

Rating Legend:
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy from iTunes Store
2Stars Rent it on iTunes
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere
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AuthorVinko
CategoriesMovie Review

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My Rating: 4Stars

This afternoon I saw the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button at UA Cinema, Time Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong. Another one of the movies from my Must See Movies list.

The plot of the movie is fairly typical but with a special twist. It is about a man, Benjamin Button (played by Brad Pitt), who was born with an old man's body and died as a baby.

The special effects and makeup were quite amazing. Although one would not expect special effects to play an important role for a movie like this. It enabled the team to transform Pitt, a 46 years old in real life, into a young teenager. The other side of the transformation was to make Pitt into a convincing 70 years old, which was the creativity of makeup artist, Greg Cannom.

Cannom's artisan included the transformation of Pitt's body into an old man's, along with sagging chest and flabby stomach. This efforts earned him an Oscar nomination, "Achievement in Makeup".

For some reasons this movie reminded me of Tim Burton's Big Fish (2003). I guess it was the cinematography and the fantasy nature of the plot. There is a questionable yet believable feel for the events that transpire throughout the movie.

Pitt delivered his usual great performance, convincing the audience he was indeed the age the character was going through. Enough so that it earned him an Oscar nomination for "Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role". One of his supporting actresses, Taraji P. Henson also had a great performance, earning an Oscar nomination herself for "Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role". In total the movie racked up 13 nominations at the 81st Oscars to be held on February 22nd.

This is definitely a movie for fans of Pitt, but anyone into fantasy and stories of Eric Roth should not miss either.

Rating Legend:  
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy from iTunes Store
2Stars Rent it on iTunes
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere
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AuthorVinko
CategoriesMovie Review

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My Rating: 3Stars

This evening I saw the movie City of Ember at UA Cinema, Time Square, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong.

The well known actors: Bill MurrayTim RobbinsMartin LandauMary Kay Place, in this movie were horrible. May be that was intentional so that the young and coming actors can shine. The lead characters Harry Treadaway (Doon Harrow) and Saoirse Ronan (Lina Mayfleet) were quite good. At first I thought Treadaway was the lead, but later it turns out Ronan stole the show.

Ronan is a young 14 year old actor who only started appearing on the silver screen last year, with I Could Never Be Your Woman and was a "Best Actress in a Supporting Role" nominee at the The 80th Annual Academy Awards for her role in Atonement with Keira Knightley. I can see that Ronan is one of those actress to watch for years to come.

The plot of the movie is simple which made Ronan's and Treadaway's even more important. The set was low budget, and was it not for the dialogues of Caroline Thompson this story of Jeanne Duprau would have been even more dull.

Another delight was the actresses, Amy Quinn and Catherine Quinn who played the character "Poppy". Not sure why they had to use two actresses as there was none of the usual lapse in years for the character to justify actresses of different ages. Although the Quinn did not have much of a dialogue, they were very cute and delightful. I can't wait to see either of them in the next movie.

Unfortunately, due to the weak plot and story line, with the only salvage being the acting of the young actors, I can only grant this movie Three Penguins.

Rating Legend:
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy from iTunes Store
2Stars Rent it on iTunes
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere
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AuthorVinko
CategoriesMovie Review

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My Rating: 3Stars

This evening I saw the movie Mirrors at AMC Theater, Pacific Place, Admiralty, Hong Kong.

This is not a typical genre (Thriller) of movies I normally watch, I didn't even put it on My Must See Movies list.

Kiefer Sutherland was surprisingly appropriate for his role. Before I went to the movie and knowing a little about the plot, I was surprised to hear that Sutherland was cast as the male lead. The last motion picture Sutherland starred in was The Sentinel and he was not so great in it.

Through out the movie I saw him as the "Jack Bauer" character from 24, which fits perfectly with the character of this movie; A stressed emotional ex-cop suffering from the brink of nervous break down with a broken family and everyone thinks he is unreliable.

There were the typical thriller scenes to classify itself as a Thriller movie, but also enough mystery moments and twists in the plot to keep Sutherland's character, Ben Carson, occupy. Of course, one cannot have a thriller movie without scenes where the main character gets himself into situation, which a normal person would never be brave enough to put himself in. This is part of the traditional excitment of thrillers.

Since I don't normally watch thriller movies, I cannot rate the movie on the degree of scariness. I can only rate the movie based on the suspense and degree of twists in the plot. The plot is quite shallow the movie was not too deep. Although, its ending justified the extra penguin to give this movie the three penguin rating.

Rating Legend:
5Stars Not to be missed
4Stars Wait for the DVD
3Stars Buy from iTunes Store
2Stars Rent it on iTunes
1Stars Waste your time elsewhere
Posted
AuthorVinko
CategoriesMovie Review