Happy New Years!

Happy New Years Everyone! What movies did you enjoy in 2011, what are you looking forward to in the new year?
Here's a cute video from Zooey Deschanel and Joesph Gordon-Levitt.


Video Games and Movies

As long as I have enjoyed watching movies, I have shared the same kind of enthusiasm for video games as well. Video games as a medium to tell compelling storylines and entertain its audience have come a long way. There have been many attempts to turn video games into movies, but that formula just doesn't seem to work out very well. Movie after movies of bad video game adaptations continue to be made. Well, instead of having to  sit through those terrible adaptations why not just playing the games like they were meant to be. Just as you feel a special connection with a well made movie, I believe you can share that same kind of connection with a well made video game as well. In this post I wanted to share some of my favorite video game memories. Some of these games may already have movies made about them or will be having one made in the future. My recommendation is for you to go and play them, the way they were meant to be enjoyed.

'Suikoden II' is by far one of my favorite games. Some of the most fun I've had playing games is from this role playing game. The fantasy world this game creates with its immense storyline and characters gives the players a unique experience that only a game of this caliber can deliver. 

The 'Metal Gear Solid' series is one of the most popular series of all time and for good reasons. This was one of the first video games that made me feel as if I was actually watching an action film. 

'Resident Evil 1 &2' showed me how playing video game can be just as thrilling and frightening as watching a good horror movie. I'll never forget the first time the zombie dogs jumped out through the windows without any warning.

'Uncharted' is one of the more recent games I have played. It introduces the world to Nathan Drake. I guess he's like the male video game version of Lara Croft. It has the perfect combination of adventure and humor that you would find in any good adventure movies. Plus, it's just a really fun game.

'Heavy Rain' is another one of the more recent games. This was one of the most innovative games I have played. The storyline is excellent and the games gives you the complete control over what paths to take. Therefore, that can be multiple endings depending on your choices. Now, how cool is that. 'Heavy Rain' also makes you feel like you are watching a movie.

Finally, the game that made me buy my first video game console. I don't know how many countless hours I spent playing 'Final Fantasy VII'. This was the first game I had for playstation and will always be my favorite. The graphics were ahead of its time and I was amazed by gameplay. Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, Barrett, chocobos and Sephiroth are some of the most memorable video game characters ever made. Great storyline and character development really makes you feel connected to the characters just as you would in a great movie.


Horrible Bosses (2011)

Do you hate your job? Do you hate your boss so much that you spend the majority of your day daydreaming about different ways of killing him/her? Well, in 'Horrible Bosses', three close friends are driven to the end of their limits by their bosses. They conclude that the only way for them to solve their problems at work is to have their bosses killed. Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, and Jason Sudeikis play the three friends determined to get rid of their horrible bosses (Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell), but have no idea how to get the job done. The movie goes on to show the silliness that ensues as the three clueless buddies attempt to commit the perfect murder or murders. 'Horrible Bosses' does exactly what intends to do. It will keep you entertained and provide some laughs. However, it's kind of like eating out at a greasy fast food restaurant. It tastes so good at the time, but you just know it's not good for you. But who cares, sometimes you just have to give in to your cravings.

IMDB- 7.1/10
Metascore- 57/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 69%, Audience- 72%
Yong's Rating- 2.5/5 Stars


Clash of the Titans (2010)

For a film that deals with gods, goddesses and demigods, there really isn't much god-like about 'Clash of the Titans'. This was a very dull movie. It's never a good sign when your lead actor looks bored throughout the entire movie. For all I know, his body may have been still stuck in Pandora. When people start to defy against the gods and refuse to worship them, Zeus (Liam Neeson) agrees to let his brother Hades (Ralph Fiennes) seek vengeance against mankind. It is up to Perseus (Sam Worthington) to stand up to Hades and save the humans. 'Clash of Titans' is a testament that fancy graphics can only do so much to save a movie.

Rottent Tomatoes- Critics- 28% Audience- 48%
Yong's Rating-2/5 Stars


Stardust (2007)

'Stardust' is a wonderful fantasy romantic film that I believe is very under rated. It has the quality of other great fantasy movies like the 'Princess Bride'. Its innocence, narrative style and the compelling love story makes it stand out among fantasy movies. It tells the story of a shop boy named Tristan (Charlie Cox) from a small English town of Wall. What Tristan doesn't realize is that right across the town's great wall is a magical kingdom. Tristan's infatuation with town's beauty, Victoria (Sienna Miller) starts a great adventure when he promises her a fallen star to gain her love. When he manages to get across the wall, he finds himself in middle of the magical kingdom being chased by feuding princes and crazed witches who are all also searching for the fallen star (Claire Danes). As he ventures across the mythical kingdom with the lovely star, he encounters array of fantastical characters as well as some fearsome creatures. Perfect formula for a great fantasy adventure.  'Stardust' features a great ensemble cast and an enchanting story that is well worth checking out.

IMDB- 7.8/10
Metascore- 66/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 76% Audience- 86%
Yong's Rating- 5/5 stars


Must be that time of the year

Elf is starting to play regularly on USA network. It must be that time of the year again. What's your favorite movies to watch during the holidays?

I always look forward to watching 'Hannah and Her Sisters' around this time of year.



I've been really enjoying Dexter lately. It's such a good show. Go check it out if you haven't. Any Dexter fans out there?


Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

The lovable haunted sisters and America's favorite demon are back for more scares in 'Paranormal Activity 3' just in time for the Halloween season. 'PA 3' is a prequel to 'PA 2' which was a prequel to 'PA 1'. If you haven't watched the previous ones, don't worry you can jump right in. This movie is made up of footages taken from Katie and Kristi's childhood. Yes, the VHS tapes make a cameo appearance. When the new house starts to make strange noises and sounds, the curious father decides to set up cameras in the rooms hoping to find the culprit. Just like in the previous PA movies, the more attention you give the demon, the more active it gets. That may be good news for the audience yearning for scares, but it definitely is not good for the poor family.
If you have watched the previous Paranormal movies, you know exactly what to expect here. Sadly, the novelty has definitely worn out since the first movie. 'PA 3' is a movie that is meant to be experienced at the theater, preferably with a group of people. It is more like a ride more than movie. You are not going to watch this to find some deep insights into the human existence. No, you go to watch this movie to have some loud noise and freaky images scare the crap out of you. This movie, like the previous ones aren't really scary, but it does excellent job of building anticipation and are full of 'got cha' moments. I must mention that two sisters in this movie does a really good job of creeping you out, especially the younger one who actually talks to the demon. So, if you and your friends are in a mood for some thrill this time of the year, going to see 'Paranormal Activity 3' will beat going to some lame haunted house.

IMDB- 6.5/10
Metascore- 59/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Audience- 69%, Critics- 71%
Yong's Rating- 3/5 stars


50/50 (2011)

I didn't think you could make a comedy about cancer without being too insensitive or offensive. Which is probably why there aren't too many cancer comedy movies out there. However, '50/50' takes the subject of cancer and manages to tell a genuinely funny and compelling story. The movie is loosely based on Seth Rogen's friend Will Reiser who wrote the script.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt portrays Adam, a 27 year old who is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He learns that patients with his form of cancer has a 50% survival rate. It was moving to watch the progression of Adam through the different phases of treatment. It must be daunting to be face to face with death at such a young age. To be fully aware that death isn't something that you need to worry about years down the line. That it can come at any instant, sometimes without any reason or warning. Coping with something as serious as cancer isn't something one can be expected to deal with alone, and it's important to find a close support group that you can count on. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogen are two likable charismatic guys that are enjoyable to watch on screen and they didn't disappoint. Anna Kendrick is also very cute in her role as the young therapist. '50/50' tackles a tough subject with laughs and human drama. I really enjoyed this movie and I recommend it to anyone who is curious about it.

IMDB- 8.1/10
Metascore- 72/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 92%, Audience- 91%
Yong's Rating- 4/5 stars


You Again (2010)

'You Again' may have been an engaging and funny movie if I was still four years old and only understood Korean. Kristin Bell plays Marni, who goes through hell during high school. She is the social outcast of the school and is constantly bullied. The grown up Marni is a confident, sexy, and successful business woman. When she comes back home for her brother's (James Wolk) wedding, she learns that the girl (Odette Annable) her brother is marrying is the same girl who was responsible for her nightmare known as high school. When her high school nemesis refuses to apology and goes as far as to say she doesn't even remember her, Marni is determined to show her brother who he's really marrying.
Bad screenplay and over the top acting makes 'You Again' very hard to enjoy. The movie is very predictable and wastes talents of some very good actresses like Sigourney Weaver. Also Kristin Bell really needs to look for better roles if she ever wants to be taken seriously as a real actress because she has the charm and charisma to be a very good leading actress. But then again, maybe her goal is to dominate the really bad romantic comedy movie genre. She's doing a damn good job at it. Don't watch this please. I made the mistake of browsing through netflix and being really bored and thinking hey that Kristin Bell is pretty cute. That's how she gets you every time.

Metascore- 28/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 18%, Audience- 45%
Yong's Rating- 1/5 Stars


30 Minutes or Less (2011)

'30 Minutes or Less' delivers exactly what it promises and it does a pretty darn good job. This is in spite of Aziz Ansari's terrible acting performance. Dude's a funny guy, but he just can't act. Even though Jesse Eisenberg and Danny McBride basically play the same character in every role at least they are good at it.
The movie tells the story of two hopeful criminals who kidnap a pizza delivery guy and strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank or get blown up. Boom! Danny McBride and Nick Swardson play the two losers who need to get their hands on $100,000. They come up with the perfect plan to kidnap someone to rob a bank for them. They play well off of each other and deliver several funny one liners. Jesse Eisenberg is the pizza delivery guy. He was living like a bum without any ambitions, but when he is faced with death he realizes just how much he really wants to live. Aziz Ansari plays Eisneberg's best friend who chooses to help his friend in his time of need. The two buddies must put their difference aside and pull off a perfect bank robbery or risk the very likely possibility of getting blown up into pieces.
'30 Minutes or Less' is a fun buddy comedy with a lot laughs and action. If you are looking for a light movie with a lot laughs this movie well worth a look.

Metascore- 48/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 42%, Audience- 68%
Yong's Rating- 3.5/5 stars


Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' tells the origin story behind the 1968 classic 'Planet of the Apes'. It does not disappoint. It's very refreshing to see a movie focused solely on telling a good story in today's age of 3D fad. What do you know? You can have a big budget movie where its sole intention isn't to throw random objects into the camera! 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' is a summer blockbuster that has the rare combination of visually stunning computer graphics and a compelling storyline that's sure to tug at your heart.
Set in present day San Francisco, a scientist (James Franco) working at a biotech company stumbles on a miracle drug that has the potential to change humankind. Franco plays Will, the scientist who has personal attachment to his work on a drug with potential to cure Alzheimer's disease. His father (John Lithgow) is a shell of his former self, trapped in his body at the mercy of Alzheimer's. The dangerous mixture of genetic engineering, animal testing/cruelty, corporate greed, and desperation to save a loved one create a volatile background behind this compelling movie. I thought this movie was sci-fi action at its finest. It had my attention from the beginning and it didn't let go. Caesar (Andy Serkis), the main ape in this movie clearly steals the show. Caesar is one of the most realistic and personable CG character in a movie ever. As you watch him grow from a helpless infant to an adult you can't help but care about what happens to him.
'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' is definitely one of the best movies of the year and I recommend you go and check this out if haven't done so yet!

Metascore- 68/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 82% Audience- 90%
Yong's Rating- 5/5 stars


Blue Valentine (2010)

Not all love stories end happily ever after. It's a sad depressing thought, but eventually love fades. 'Blue Valentine' tells two stories. One about falling in love and another about falling out of love. Both stories are presented well enough to stand on their own. And in the case of 'Blue Valentine', when the two stories are told side by side, you are treated to an unique perspective on nature of relationships. Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams does a wonderful job portraying the hard luck couple. The vast difference between the dynamics of relationship when they first meet and the present time is eye opening. It is interesting to witness just how much you can love someone and just how quickly you can fall out of love with the same person. This film is very well made, and its realistic take on relationships really makes it stand apart from the typical romantic movies out there and for that I think it's well worth a look.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 87%, Audience- 75%
Yong's Rating- 4/5 Stars


The most memorable moment of your life...

It was one of those gorgeous spring sunday afternoons. We were at the local cafe drinking coffee and reading when she suddenly turned to me with those big blue eyes and asked,
"Tell me, what would you say is the most memorable moment you've had in your life so far?"
Naturally, I was caught off guard by the question. But, I kept my cool and quickly drifted away into thought.
'Let's see, most memorable moment?... hmm.. that one time I hit the game winning shot at the buzzer in high school, my first kiss, the first time finishing a marathon, that west coast road trip I had with my buddies, graduations, birthdays, when my parents brought home a puppy, first time at Wrigley, kickass concerts, that weekend in Vegas, that time I got to sit court side for a Bulls game, first time watching Hannah and Her Sisters and Wild Strawberries...'
As random moments of my life were processing through my head, I could not help but notice how beautiful she looked sitting across from me patiently awaiting my answer. Maybe it was the way the sunlight was hitting across her face or the extra shot of expresso I ordered. To this day, I'm still not sure. But, suddenly my thoughts became very clear.
'I love the way those lines form around her mouth whenever she smiles, the way she giggles at my jokes, her unique style, the way her eyes light up whenever we pass an ice cream store, how she can sleep through two of her unearthly loud alarm clocks every morning, the intense look she gets whenever she's trying to parallel park, the look on her face when she practices her violin or paints her pictures, the way she hugs me when I get home, the way she hums whenever she gets bored, how happy she makes me feel every morning knowing someone as kind, smart and beautiful as her could love someone as plain as me.'
For the first time in my life I was content with everything and it was all because of her. Without giving anymore thought, I replied,
"All the moments I've had so far are nothing compared to the wonderful moments that I plan on making with you. So I guess my answer is that my most memorable moment is still yet to come."
"Awww..." She responded with the tone of voice she uses whenever she talks to her dog.
"I was going to take our first date as an acceptable answer, but I guess that'll do too."
She smiled at me and quickly broke into laughter. I couldn't help but join in. She may not have realized just how honest and sincere my answer was but I didn't care. Because at that moment, I was happy just knowing that I had someone to share these laughters with for the rest of my life.

The Change Up (2011)

'The Change Up' is a body switch comedy starring Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds. This may be the raunchiest of all the body switch movies out there. Bateman and Reynolds are two close friends who have grown apart over the years. Mostly because Bateman has a career and a family while Reynolds character simply just never grew up. When the two go out for a guys night out and end up peeing in a magical fountain, they wake up the next morning in each other's bodies. The unfortunate switch presents a chance for the Reynolds character to prove to himself that he can be a grown up and a chance for the Bateman character to live life without any stress that comes with a job and a family.
The plot is pretty simple as with most other body switch movies, except this one throws in a lot more adult jokes and language. There's a lot of laughs in this movie, but if dirty jokes aren't your type of thing than you'd better stay away from this one. On the other hand, if fart and poop jokes still make you giggle than you may find this very enjoyable. Seeing Olivia Wilde doesn't hurt either.

Metascore- 41/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 20% Audience- 62%
Yong's Rating- 2.5/5 Stars

Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011)

After seeing the trailers for 'Crazy, Stupid, Love', I walked in the theater expecting just another 'Hitch' type generic romantic comedy. Boy was I wrong. 'Crazy, Stupid, Love' delivered much more than I anticipated with its stellar cast, plot, and that feel good after taste.
Cal's (Steve Carell) life gets a sudden wake up call when his wife Emily (Julianne Moore) asks for a divorce. Cal ends up at a bar to get some drinks for his sorrow and someone to talk to. Jacob (Ryan Gosling) takes notice of Cal. A badly dressed, drunk middle aged man babbling on and on about why his wife left him to anyone in his vicinity. Jacob takes pity on the poor guy and offers him his guidance to rediscover his long lost manhood. Just when you think this movie is just about a recently divorced middle age man learning to pick up hot chicks, it changes pace and ties in other character's story lines into the mix. What you get is a delightful mix of love, drama, and even a few laughs.
Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling share very good chemistry together. I also enjoyed Julianne Moore and Emma Stone's performance very much. The talented cast make this movie a very good ensemble piece and a joy to watch. If you are in a mood to leave a theater with a smile this summer go check this one out.

IMDB- 8/10
Metascore- 68/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-75%, Audience- 86%
Yong's Rating- 4/5 Stars


About Schmidt (2002)

Directed by Alexander Payne, 'About Schmidt' tells the story of Warren Schmidt (Jack Nicholson), a recently retired Omaha man embarking on a new phase of his life. There's just something so subtle yet powerful about this film that I think everyone can relate to. Life for Warren may seem simple on the surface, but underneath the mellow exterior lies a complex man at a serious crossroads with where his life is heading.

"Who is this old woman who lives in my house?"

To wake up one day and find yourself wondering where the past 66 years of your life has gone must be a frightening thought. And that is exactly where we find our hero, Warren. Recently retired, he seems unsure about where his life is heading. His life's work is thrown away and passed onto some young hot shot from Des Moines. Regrets about missed opportunities and chances not taken fill his mind. A wife who feels like a stranger, and his only daughter about to marry a complete loser. Just when you think things can't get any worse for poor Warren, his wife suddenly drops dead. So what do you do when life keeps throwing you cheap shots? You take your camper and go on a road trip to do some soul searching.
I really felt Nicholson gave one of his best performance of his career. He just felt so natural and smooth portraying the part of Warren. Payne provides a genuinely thought provoking movie about life and family that I enjoyed the heck out of and I hope you do too. And how can you pass on the chance to see the gorgeous Omaha skyline in a movie?

Metascore- 85/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 85%, Audience- 64%
Yong's Rating- 5/5 stars


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The Man From Nowhere (2010)

'The Man From Nowhere' is one of the most exciting movies I've had the pleasure of seeing in a long time. It has everything you want in a good thriller. With its fast-pace action and gritty fight sequences, it will definitely grab your attention. The Koreans seem to have perfected the art of making revenge theme thriller action films. And that is a very good thing for movie fans. A mysterious reclusive pawnshop owner (Bin Won) befriends a troubled young girl who lives next door. She is raised by a drug addicted single mother who loves her daughter but due to her addiction ends up neglecting the young girl. When the mother foolishly steals a stash of drugs belonging to a big drug dealing organization, she doesn't realize the trouble that she has gotten herself into. The gangsters kidnap the mother and the little girl to find the drug and the quiet pawnshop owner gets involved. When he realizes what has happened to his neighbors he does everything in his power to try to save the girl and her mother. As you get to learn more about the past of this man from nowhere, you learn that he is not your average pawnshop owner.
If you have any experience with Korean thrillers, you'll know to expect some dark themes and level of violence not familiar in Hollywood movies. Just a warning for those who aren't fans of violence. Overall, 'The Man From Nowhere' is as a good as any action thriller can get and I highly recommend this one to anyone in mood to watch a kick ass film.

Rotten Tomatoes- Audience- 86%
Yong's Rating- 4.5/5 Stars


No Strings Attached (2011)

Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher star in 'No Strings Attached', a romantic comedy about two young people agreeing be each other's sex buddy, with only one rule. No real commitment allowed. Portman plays Emma, a medical resident and Kutcher plays a fun loving all-around good guy. One thing about this movie got right was casting the part for Kutcher and Portman. They really seemed believable for the roles they were portraying.
From the start, you can tell that the no strings attached business really wasn't going to work out well between the two characters. Kutcher character was clearly falling for Portman from the start. And you just got a sense that she just didn't feel he was good enough for her. Overall, 'No Strings Attached' has all the elements of a good romantic comedy, but doesn't really bring anything extra to make it great.

Metascore- 50/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-48%, Audience- 59%
Yong's Rating- 2.5/5 Stars


Hereafter (2010)

As the title suggests, 'Hereafter' deals with the theme of afterlife. I usually love movies with this type of fantasy theme, so naturally I was excited to check out this movie. Plus Clint Eastwood directed it and Matt Damon is a bad ass, so it can't be that bad, right?
'Hereafter' follows the lives of three main characters and the way in which death has affected each one of them. After a near death experience as a child, George (Matt Damon) develops a special gift/curse which allows him to communicate with people in the afterlife. He spends most of his life using his power to do readings for people longing to talk to lost loved ones. However, his ability becomes too much of a burden for him to handle. Wanting to live a normal life, he choses a reclusive lifestyle in order to escape from his past. Marie( Cecile De France) is a French reporter who experiences a near death experience and has an out of the body experience. When she is brought back to life, the haunting images of her experience of afterlife is too much to forget. She becomes obsessed with the concept of afterlife. The third storyline revolves around two young twin boys. When one of the brother suffers a terrible accident and dies, the remaining bother goes on a search to find ways to communicate with his dead brother.
Overall, I was not too impressed by this movie. I'm not saying this movie is terrible, it just didn't grab my attention. It is a well thought out movie with coherent story lines, but I just couldn't get into the movie. I found myself getting bored, maybe because the storyline is very easy to predict. That's just never a good sign. So, here's my warning, watching this movie may bore you to death. See what I did there. Boom.

Metascore- 56/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 46%, Audience-41%
Yong's Rating- 2/5 Stars


The Hangover Part 2 (2011)

"It happened again...", these are the opening lines of 'The Hangover Part 2' spoken by Phil. And there's just about the perfect way to describe the sequel to the massively successful 'Hangover'. The Wolfpack is reunited for Stu the dentist's (Ed Helms) wedding. Stu, Phil (Bradley Cooper), Doug (Justin Bartha), and even Alan (Zach Galifianakis) are all back for some more raunchy fun. This time, the gang is far away from Vegas. They are in Thailand and due to Stu's wishes skipped a bachelor party. However, when the gang find themselves awake in a cheap Bangkok hotel room without any memory of the previous night, they quickly realize that it has happened again. If you loved the first Hangover, then I'm sure you'll enjoy this one as well. Here's just a quick summary. Switch Las Vegas with Bangkok, the baby with a monkey, Doug (Bartha) with Stu's brother in law.
When the gang find themselves awake without Stu's brother in law Teddy, the guys must search for clues to find Teddy and get back to the wedding on time. As they retrace their steps, you get to find out about the crazy night shared by the gang. And trust me, it's much crazier than the night they had in Vegas. I found the plot a bit predictable, but there are definitely funny parts and it will sure make you laugh and even gasp at times. Just remember that it is rated R for a reason and if you aren't comfortable with this type of movie just stay away.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-35% Audience-95%
Yong's Rating- 3/5 stars

Midnight in Paris (2011)

'Midnight in Paris' is the latest Woody Allen flick featuring Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams. This may be one of his most commercially successful film in years. Mr. Allen continues his recent trend of filming away from his home base in New York City. Set in Paris, 'Midnight in Paris' starts with a gorgeous ode to the beauty of the romantic city. Woody Allen just has a way of making any city a part of his cast of characters. You could definitely see the love affair he has with Paris, it almost felt like he was cheating on New York City.
Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams play a newly engaged couple away on a vacation in Paris. Gil (Wilson) is infatuated with the city and has fantasies of moving to the city and writing. His fiancé is set on living the suburban life in Hollywood and doesn't understand what is so great about Paris. Gil is a romantic who longs for the simpler times of the past and wishes he was born in a different era. He is in love with the 1920's and walking around the city in rain. When Gil wonders off one night to just walk the beautiful city and clear his mind, a little loss of sense of direction leads to a life changing adventure. Without giving away too much of the storyline, 'Midnight in Paris' mixes in elements of fantasy and romance that is sure to delight and seduce the viewers. It was reminiscent of 'Purple Rose of Cairo' and to some degree 'Stardust Memories'. I believe this is one of his better movies in recent years. Owen Wilson played the 'Woody Allen character' very well and seemed like a natural for the part.
I found myself enjoying this movie very much. I couldn't help smiling the whole way through. I just loved how beautiful the city looked on the screen as well as the performances of the wonderful cast. It is a terrific mixture of charm, fantasy, romance, and comedy. Go see for yourself.

Metascore- 81/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-92%, Audience-77%
Yong's Rating- 4/5 stars


Grave of the Fireflies (1988)#*@

There are certain movies that are simply more just a movie. 'Grave of the Fireflies' is one of the most haunting and brutally honest movies I have ever seen. Also one of the most depressing movie as well. War is not pretty and it makes no attempt to hide the fact. Its images and message will always be in my memory. Set in Japan during WWII, the film tells the story of young brother and sister who loses their mother during a bomb raid. Seita and Setsuko lose everything they have and are left to do whatever they can to survive on their own. The animation is gorgeous and it captures both the good and the bad times perfectly. This is a movie that you just have to experience on your own to get a feel for it. It's always hard to rate a movie like this one and frankly I don't think it really matters. I highly recommend that you give it a try in the future.

#IMDB- 8.3/10 (#124 of 250)
Rotten Tomatoes- Critic-96% Audience-93%
* One of 1001 movies you must see before you die
@Ebert's Great Movies
Yong's Rating- 5/5


Thor (2011)

I will admit I had pretty low expectations going into 'Thor'. Just another big blockbuster movie with no real substance, right? Wrong! I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I found myself enjoying it. I had no idea who Thor was going into the movie, but it does a very good job of explaining the genesis and doesn't make you feel alienated for not already knowing who Thor is. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is a powerful warrior prince from another universe or realm of Asgard. When a group of ancient enemies make a surprise attack on the day he was set to become the new king, an angry Thor decides the best way to protect his people is to attack back. He disobeys his father Odin's (Anthony Hopkins) orders and makes a counter attack. Disappointed in his son's arrogance and vanity, Odin banishes him and his hammer down to earth. 'Thor' has two main storylines- the sibling rivalry between Thor and Loki for father's approval (Tom Hiddleston) and the romantic spark between Thor and a beautiful mortal (Natalie Portman). I think Hemsworth may have been inspired by the way Natalie Portman transformed her body for her role in the 'Black Swan' because he definitely got in shape for this one. This thought was confirmed by the girl sitting behind me whispering 'Yeah he is' to her friend in response to Hemsworth telling Portman that 'I am bad'.
Overall, I thought that 'Thor' was a perfect mixture of action and engaging storyline that is hard to find in many of the blockbuster movies today. I highly recommend it for everyone. I just hope this is a sign of good things to come for the summer movie season.

Metascore- 58/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 78%, Audience- 84%
Yong's Rating- 4/5 Stars


The Switch (2010)

I did not think it would be possible for me dislike Jason Bateman. There was no way I would ever think ill of the Michael Bluth. Well, 'The Switch' proved me wrong. In 'The Switch', Jennifer Aniston plays a single woman who feels her time to have a child is running out. Being busy with work and having bad luck with men, she comes up with the perfect idea of turning to a sperm donor. Jason Bateman plays the best friend who obviously has a crush on her. Kassie (Aniston) decides to go through with the insemination against Wally's (Bateman) disapproval. She even throws an insemination party to celebrate the inception of the baby. Mix some alcohol, pills, and unfortunately placed sperm sample. What do you get? The perfect formula for the switch. Kassie gets pregnant and leaves town. When she comes back a few years later with her son, Sebastian, Wally starts to remember the night of the insemination party and realizes that he is the father. The rest of the movies deals with how the revelation of the truth will effect the relationship between Kassie and Wally. And I will leave that up to you to find out.
Overall, this movie just felt very flat. There was just no life. I was initially interested by the premise, but it just failed to keep my attention. 'The Switch' may be worth a look if you are a big fan of Jennifer Aniston or Jason Bateman, but I think you should just stay away from this one.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-52%, Audience-45%
Yong's Rating- 2/5 Stars


127 Hours (2010)

"127 Hours" is a real testament to one's undying free spirit and the will to survive. Directed by Danny Boyle (cue the dramatic music and clever use of flashbacks), it chronicles the true life story of mountain climber/adventurer Aron Ralston, who famously got his arm stuck between a boulder and a canyon due to a freak accident during a climb. Aron (James Franco) finds himself literally stuck between a rock and a hard place in middle of nowhere, miles away from any signs of civilization. Oh, and he didn't tell anyone where he was going.
James Franco delivers a very convincing, powerful performance as the free-spirited Aron Ralston. Now only if he could deliver a convincing performance as an Oscar host (sorry, I just had to do it). As the title suggests, Aron spends 127 hours contemplating about his situation and reflecting back on his life. As he thoughtfully states during one point in the movie, every moment of his life, every decisions he has ever made had been pushing him closer to his unfortunate meeting with the boulder. With his supplies getting low and his health deteriorating, how far is he willing to go to survive? You can watch the movie to find out for yourself. I found "127 hours" very engaging and well worth the viewing. Just like any good life affirming adventure, there are fun, thoughtful, rewarding and even some gruesome moments for everyone to experience.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 93% Audience- 85%
Yong's Rating- 3.5/5 Stars


Waiting for Superman (2010)

'Waiting for Superman' is a documentary examining the state of the public education system in America. Let's just say it's not all rainbows and sunshine. Having gone through the public education system myself (product of Chicago Public School), I was very interested in seeing this documentary. The film presents the harsh reality of where our public educational system is and where it's heading. It gives the big overall picture through fancy charts, graphs, and statistics. And adds a personal touch by focusing on a select group of families stuck right in the heart of the problem. It was disheartening to see the sad state of the public schools around the country. How a child's future can be decided solely on a random pick of a number. The worst part was that everyone knows it's broken, but the system doesn't allow for it to get fixed due to its politics. The film does provides some hope in ways that the system can get repaired, but at the rate things are now, I'm not sure even superman himself can save the children.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 89%, Audience-85%
Yong's Rating- 3/5 Stars


Flipped (2010)

Your first childhood crush, the first time you felt that funny butterflies in your stomach, you wonder why she/him is on your mind all the time. Do you remember you first crush? Rob Reiner's 'Flipped' captures the essence of first love perfectly. Bryce (Callan McAuliffe) is new to the neighborhood and he is greeted by Juli Baker (Madeline Carroll), who instantly falls in love with the cute boy with the mesmerizing eyes. The movie is narrated from viewpoint of both Bryce and Juli as they grow up through grade school and get to know each other better. I really liked the way the movie presented both sides of the story, really letting you into the minds of the main characters. 'Flipped' does play the cute emotional card, but it doesn't abuse it to the point of making you feel sick. Watching 'Flipped' felt like watching a group of cute puppies playing with each other. It's so cute that you just can't turn away and you can't help but to smile. So if you like cute puppies, go ahead and give 'Flipped' a try.

Metascore- 45/100
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 57%, Audience- 76%
Yong's Rating- 3.5/5 stars


Morning Glory (2010)

In 'Morning Glory', Rachel McAdams plays a career driven woman who has dedicated her life to producing morning news programs. When she is unexpectedly fired from her job due to cutbacks, she gets an opportunity to revive a struggling morning news programs. She is given the task of breathing new life into a dying show, and she is willing to do anything to get the job done. Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford play an unlikely pair of co-hosts, who are complete opposites of each other. I thought the two veteran actors shared good chemistry on screen. And McAdams is charming enough to keep you interested in the storyline. Will she revive ratings for the show? Will she make some time to find love? Will she be happy? I'll let you watch the movie to find out for yourself. 'Morning Glory' won't blow you away, but it isn't a complete waste of time either.

Rotten Tomatoes- critics- 54%, audience- 56%
Yong's rating- 3/5 stars


Never Let Me Go (2010)

There's a serene quality about the way Carey Mulligan carries herself which makes her the perfect leading actress for a film like 'Never Let Me Go'. It moves with a calm slow pace and gives the viewers the time to take everything in. If you are not a fan of movies with slow pace and not much action (as in things going boom), then this movie probably isn't for you. The movie centers around three children growing up in a peaceful English countryside boarding school. Ruth(Kerira Knightley), Kathy(Carey Mulligen) and Tommy(Andrew Garfield) are close childhood friends whose fates are intertwined with each other in more ways than one.
The movie is told from the perspective of Kathy recalling her past and pondering what is to become of her future. As the film takes you back to her childhood and up to the present, you find out about the mystery surrounding her childhood. The dark secrets, romance, and tension buried between Kathy, Ruth and Tommy all come into light as well. The slow pace and beautiful backdrop of the countryside really made watching this movie just delightful. 'Never Let Me Go' is a smart, thoughtful film I would recommend to anyone willing to give it a try.

IMDB- 7.3/10
Rotten Tomatoes- critics-68%, audience- 72%
Yong's rating- 5/5 stars


The Town (2010)

With the tough Boston neighborhood as its backdrop, 'The Town' delivers a very powerful crime thriller. It is a great ensemble piece with an all-around excellent cast. I was impressed with Affleck's directing in this movie. I got much more than the average bank heist movie that I was expecting to see. Maybe he can get a pass for giving himself the best role and having the same expression throughout the entire movie. Yet again, Jeremy Renner delivers another amazing intense performance. He is one of those special actors who can make any role his own. The film centers around two close childhood friends born into a tough neighborhood known for producing bank robbers. Tensions rise when Affleck's character seeks to leave behind the criminal business and start fresh with a girl (Rebecca Hall). With each job bringing more heat from the FBI, time is running out for Affleck to make his departure before it is too late. There's plenty of tension, action and drama packed into this movie for everyone to enjoy. While it is better than the average crime thriller, it just didn't have that extra juice to put it into the same class with the greats like 'Goodfellas' and 'The Departed'. Maybe that's asking too much? That's what you get for being better than average. Overall, 'The Town' is definitely worth your time. Go see for yourself and see if you agree with my assessment.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 94% Audience-84%
Yong's Rating- 3 1/2 out of 5 stars


Favorite Woody Allen Scenes

If you follow my blog, you probably figured Woody Allen is one of my favorite directors. I've compiled some of my favorite scenes from his movies that I could find on youtube, mostly so I have to place to watch them when I want to. If you happen to be a Woody Allen fan too, hope you enjoy them.

Opening Scene from 'Manhattan'- Allen's ode to the city he loves. One of my favorite opening scenes.

Contemplating why life is worth living from 'Manhattan'

Hell Scene from 'Deconstructing Harry'

Cello Scene from 'Take the Money and Run'

Sunday morning scene from 'Stardust Memories'

Suicide attempt scene from 'Hannah and Her Sisters'

Date scene from "Everything you always wanted to know about sex...'

Movie line scene from 'Annie Hall'

Dance Scene from 'Everyone Says I Love You'- my favorite scene.

Universe talk scene from 'September'


Oscars Prediction

Best Short Film, Live Action
I'm gonna go with Na Wewe. I have no idea about any of the nominees, at least Na Wewe sounds cool.

Best Short Film, Animated.
Let's see, going with Madagascar, a Journey Diary. Why? Sounds like something that could be on history or discovery channel. I like those channels. Boom.

Best Documentary, Short Subjects
Winner: Poster Girl
Continuing with I have not heard of any of the nominees theme here.

Best Documentary, Features
Winner: Restrepo
Finally a category with movies I've heard of! Heard a lot of good things about Restrepo and netflix told me I'd like it. Who am I to disagree?

Best Achievements in Visual Effects
I think Inception is a very deserving winner of this category. Visually stimulating film for sure. Alice in Wonderland could be a darkhorse. Now, only if it was a movie worth watching.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Winner: Inception
Not only did Inception look good, it didn't sound too bad either.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Winner: The Social Network
Awesome sounding soundtrack. And they can't give all the awards to The King's Speech. Or can they?

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Picture, Original Song
Winner: Toy Story 3, Randy Newman
Cause it made everyone tear up a little.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Picture, Original Score
Winner: The Social Network
There's a lot of categories.

Best Achievement in Makeup
Winner: The Wolfman
Seems like they did the most work.

Best Achievement in Costume Design
Winner: The King's Speech
Did I mention there's a lot of categories? They should lump makeup and costume design into one.

Best Achievement in Art Direction
Finally starting the categories that people care about.

Best Achievement in Editing
Yong's Pick: The Social Network
Academy's Pick: The King's Speech

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Winner: The Social Network
Throwing David Fincher a bone.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Where's the love for the Korean movies?

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
Winner: Toy Story 3
Slam dunk. Seeing Toy Story 3 is the only movie here also nominated for movie of the year. They have to give it to Toy Story 3, otherwise they will mess with the space time continuum.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
Winner for the longest category: True Grit
Why not?

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Winner: The Kids Are All Right
Academy's way of pleasing the indie crowd.

Best Achievement in Directing
Winner:Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan
I think Aronofsky should win this one, but most likely it will go to Hooper for The King's Speech.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Winner: Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech
Who I think should win: Amy Adams for The Fighter

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Winner: CHRISTIAN BALE for The Fighter
Seriously, if Bale doesn't win this...

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Winner: NATALIE PORTMAN for the Black Swan
The most sure thing about the academy awards is that Natalie Portman is preggers.
Oh, and she will win for best Actress.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Winner: Colin Firth
You have to give it to guy with the British accent, don't you?

Best Motion Picture of the Year
Drum roll please....
Winner: Who I think should win- The Social Network, Most likely to win based on all the hype leading up to the Oscars- The King's Speech

So there you have it. I thought about putting up little pictures of the winners but that's just too much work since I'm not too good at adding photos and I'm pretty sleepy. Just use your imagination, and no one probably will read this whole thing so there's that. Good night! I'm pumped for the Oscars!


Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

I've been occupied lately with studying for part II dental boards exam, so that's been consuming a lot of my movie watching time. Just to clear my head for a few hours, I wanted to watch something where I didn't have to think too much. While browsing through netflix, Prince of Persia caught my eyes. I had a feeling it would be a perfect movie for not thinking. In that regards, I was not disappointed. I mean, the title itself pretty much gives away the entire plot of the movie. Don't you love it when titles do that?
'Prince of Persia' is adaptation of a popular videogame starring Jake Gyllenhaal as prince Dastan, the youngest prince of Persia. During an invasion of an enemy city, the young prince Dastan gets hold of a dagger containing magical sands with the power to turn back time. Following the invasion, he is falsely accused of killing the king. Dastan makes a daring escape with the captured princess (Gemma Arterton), who is the guardian of the dagger. The prince and princess quickly learn life as fugitives is a dangerous one. Dastan must learn to use the power of the dagger to clear his name and make sure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands.
This movie wasn't as bad as all the reviews I've read made it out to be. In fact, if I was still a four year old boy, this would have easily been one of my top 3 movies of 2010. Bam.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-36%, Audience- 71%
Yong's Rating- 2/5 Stars


Happy Valentine's Day!

"Wish me a happy valentine's day when you call. That'd be nice..." Clementine.

What's your favorite romantic movie?


AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)

I'll keep this short and simple. Don't watch 'Alien vs. Predator'. Just don't do it. You're welcome.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 22% Audience-51%
Metascore- 29/100
Yong's Rating- 0/5 stars


My Sassy Girl (2001) '엽기적인 그녀'

If you are an asian teenage girl, you've probably already seen this movie multiple times and cried your eyes out. This review is for those of you who have never heard of this movie or have made the unfortunate mistake of watching the American version first. If there's one thing Koreans do well it's making sad/emotional soap operas and movies. Trust me.
'My Sassy Girl' is one of the most successful movies in South Korea and East Asia in recent years. It tells the story of a very unlikely couple. Cha Tae Hyun is a lazy college student with no direction in life. A chance meeting with a mysterious drunk girl in the subway changes everything. Cha is forced to take care of the passed out drunk girl when the passengers mistakenly believe him to be her boyfriend. The mysterious drunk girl is played by Jeon Ji Hyun. And as the title suggests, she is very sassy and not afraid to speak her mind in front of anyone. After the incident, the two meet each other and start seeing each other regularly. Dating Jeon is not easy. She must get everything she wants when she wants it. She does not take no for an answer. The movie is told from Cha's perspective and recounts his crazy (and sometimes painful) experience of dating his sassy girl. I believe the film is based on a true story.
Jeon Ji Hyun and Cha Tae Hyun's charisma and comedic timing really make this film a very fun experience. Sure there are some references that gets lost in translation but what foreign movie doesn't that. I'm not going to lie, this movie sets up to play with your emotions and pull at your heart. So if you are not into the melodrama then I suggest you skip this one. Watching this movie is kind of like riding an emotional roller coaster. It'll have you laughing out loud one moment and then have you holding back your tears few moments later. There are several memorable scenes that will be hard to forget. My favorite scene was Cha Tae Hyun listing off his suggestions for dating Jeon Ji Hyun to her blind date. That had to be the emotional climax of the movie. 'My Sassy Girl' is one of my favorite korean movies and if you are a fan of romantic comedies and want to try something a little different I highly suggest you give the sassy girl a try. You don't want to make her mad.

Rotten tomatoes- N/A
Yong's rating-4/5 stars


The Fighter (2010)#

'The Fighter' chronicles the early career of the junior welterweight boxer Micky Ward. He is most famous among boxing fans for his legendary bouts with Arturo Gatti. I feel that sports movies have the highest risk of being hit or miss. Majority of them have the tendency of having a generic inspirational underdog rising to the top storyline without much substance or character development. On that note, 'The Fighter' is not your typical sports movie.
Micky Ward (Mark Walberg) is in a slump. A losing streak and an unreliable management has him questioning his will to continue fighting. Ward is embarrassed of being seen as a stepping stone for his opponents and frustrated with lack of support from his mother (Melissa Leo) and half brother (Christian Bale). His mother seems more interested in making a profit than getting the best fights for his career. His half-brother, Dicky is a former boxer who earned his nickname as the the 'Pride of Lowell' by going the distance with Sugar Ray Leonard. Dicky is addicted to crack and is in no condition to train his brother properly. When Micky is at his lowest point, his new girlfriend (Amy Adams) convinces him to turn his life around by starting fresh without his family dragging him down. With a new direction and motivation in his life, Micky is focused to attempt a last run at becoming a champion before it is too late.
'The Fighter' has an authentic drama quality that separates it from typical sports movies. It really draws you into the lives of these characters from a tough New England neighborhood and makes you care about them. Christian Bale really steals the show with his convincing portrayal of Dicky. Whenever he is on screen, it is impossible to take your eyes off of him. I dare you to not look at him. You'll be asking yourself, "What happened to batman?" Bale really shows his range as an actor. He seems like a strong favorite to win an Oscar as the Best Supporting Actor. I also thought Amy Adams was deserving of her nomination for Best Supporting Actress. (By the way, Kim Hye Ja really deserved an oscar nomination for 'Mother') 'The Fighter' is a very well made inspirational movie with heart of a champion (you like how I used a sports metaphor there?). Simply labeling it as a sports movie does not give this movie the proper praise it deserves. Do you think it has a good shot at winning the best picture?

#IMDB-8.2/10 (#211 on Top 250)
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-89% Audience-90%
Yong's Rating- 4/5 Stars (highly recommended)
*I've decided to go to a five star rating system, rather than 10 pt system. Why? it's easier and more simple.


Zelig (1983)

Deep down inside we all want to be liked, to feel accepted as a part of a group, to fit in. Let's say you find yourself with a group of people talking about the latest box office hit. They express just how much they loved all the fast paced action and the graphics. You go on to agree with them and express how much you loved the graphics as well. Next day, you find yourself with another group of people discussing the same movie. Only this time, they are talking about just how terrible the movie was. "No substance, just big explosions," they say. You go on to agree with them and say how tired you are of these big hollywood movies with no real substance. More often then not, most of us tend to let the majority sway our opinions.
In "Zelig", Woody Allen takes the simple human desire of wanting to be liked to the extreme. Set during the 1920's, "Zelig" is a mock documentary examining a man named Leonard Zelig (played by Allen). His desire to be liked is so great that he develops a condition which allows him to transform himself into whoever he is talking to. Surround him with group of Chinese men, he'll start to develop oriental features. Surround him with group with black jazz musicians, he'll soon start to develop darker complexion and even play some jazz. You see the pattern.
Zelig soon gains national attention as the "Human Chameleon." Doctors take him into custody to study the strange phenomenon. Zelig surprises the doctors by transforming himself to blend in with any group of people he is presented with. Doctors see him as nothing but a study subject and his family sees him only as a chance to make a profit. Only Dr. Fletcher (played by Mia Farrow) develops a personal attachment to him and truly wants to help him fix his problem. Dr. Fletcher makes it her personal professional duty to diagnose and help treat Zelig. To cure him of his disorder. She teaches him to think and stand up for himself. In the process, the two develop strong feelings for each other.
Woody Allen has never been known for using technology or special effects in his films. But it is worth noting that "Zelig" is definitely his finest technical film. The footages, music, and the actors all looked like they belonged to the era. I really enjoyed the use of documentary style to film this movie. Using real people as actors also added that authentic documentary atmosphere. As always, there's plenty of quick funny one-liners spread throughout the movie. "Zelig" is an unique movie that really surprised me the first time I saw it simply because I haven't seen anything like it before. I urge you to check it out for yourself sometime and I give it my highest recommendation. Let me know what you think.

IMDB- 7.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-100%, Audience-86%
Yong's Rating- 5/5 stars


The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

Our planet is once again faced with danger from visitors from outer space. And this time, Will Smith isn't here to save us. He sent his son instead. The Day the Earth Stood Still is a remake of the 1951 classic. This version features Keanu Reeves as the alien visitor in human form and Jennifer Connelly as the heroine scientist. Earth is suddenly bombarded with mysterious alien landings all over different countries. Keanu Reeves presents himself as an alien ambassador, but fear and paranoia prevents the USA government from letting him start communication with the world leaders. Jennifer Connelly plays the caring scientist who tries to reason with Keanu Reeves in order to understand their motives behind the invasion. Once she learns about the aliens' intentions, she must do everything in her powers to save her home and everyone she loves.
To its credit, this movie has fantastic graphics and sound effects. Aside from its technical aspects, this movie felt very flat to me. It started out strong, but I found myself losing interest fast. Once the mystery of how Jennifer Connelly could be Jaden Smith's mother was solved, I started to lose interest. This movie just isn't captivating or interesting enough to hold the audience's attention for its full length. If you are a fan of sci-fis with good visuals and sound effects, it may be worth checking out. Otherwise, there's nothing much to see here.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-22%, Audience-34%
Yong's ratings-4/10 (skip it)


Easy A (2010)

Easy A is a delightful teen comedy featuring Emma Stone. She really shows that she has the charm and the smarts to carry a movie all by herself. Easy A tells the story of a relatively unpopular high school girl who gains notoriety due to a rumor that she lost her virginity to a guy in a community college. Instead of trying to dispel the rumor, Stone embraces the attention and even adds to her new "slutty" persona by agreeing to have fake sex or give other imaginary sexual favors to desperate guys wanting to elevate their social standing in school. Seeing the parallel between her situation and that of Hester Prynne in "The Scarlet Letter", Stone sees her new social standing as a perfect chance to conduct her own personal social experiment. However, she soon learns that living a lie has many downfalls.
I thought Easy A was a very well made teen comedy and found it engaging and fun. Some may find the dialogue a bit pretentious, but i thought it was just quirky enough to be enjoyable. Go check out Easy A and see what all the rumors are about.

Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 87% Audience- 77%
Yong's Rating- 8/10 (recommended)


La Di Da...

Happy Birthday to Diane Keaton! One of my favorite actress. La Di Da...