I'll get to the point. 'Taken 2' is horrible. Movies like this is why so many sequels get bad reputation. I actually liked the first 'Taken', but there was no reason for this movie to be made. None whatsoever (other than the studios making money). Why did you go watch this movie Yong? Thanks for asking. Well, a little thing called peer pressure. Everyone I was with wanted to see this movie. I warned them. No one listened. And we all paid a heavy price. There's really no point in trying to explain the plot, because if you've seen the previews you've seen it all. The plot is thin at best and everything is so predictable I had to catch myself from chuckling throughout the movie. The only thing that could've saved this movie was if Jack showed up and took Shannon back to the island. I know I'm really late with this review. My only regret is I might have prevented someone from having to go see this movie if I had written this earlier. That's my bad.
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 21% Audience- 56%
Yong's Rating- 1/5 Stars
The latest Bond film delivers everything you'd expect from a good Bond film. Fast paced action, an evil mastermind, cool gadgets, sexy girls, nice suits, and slick cars. Daniel Craig has already proven himself to be worthy to carry the Bond name with the previous two movies. 'Skyfall' just reminds us not to doubt him.
MI6's infrastructure is infiltrated and agency's existence is threatened by an evil genius. Bond's loyalty to M and his country is put to the test. Both M and Bond's pasts are explored and the two must face their past nightmares to get through their present adversity. I found 'Skyfall' to be enjoyable and whether you are a Bond fan or new to the franchise, there's something here for everyone to get their money's worth.
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 92% Audience- 88%
Yong's rating- 3.5/5 Stars
"Once you decide on your occupation... you must immerse yourself in your work. You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job. You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill. That's the secret of success... and is the key to being regarded honorably." -Jiro Ono
The opening lines of 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi' just about sums up the life philosophy of the master sushi chef, Jiro Ono. This documentary takes us into the life of a remarkable man. A man who has dedicated seven decades of his life to the art of making sushi and is still tirelessly honing his craft. His restaurant has earned the prestigious Michelin Guide 3 star. I will admit, I have very limited knowledge about sushi. After seeing this documentary, I realize just how much work and art goes into making the perfect sushi.
Even in his 80's, Jiro is shown working hard as ever doing what he loves doing. It was inspiring to see such a high level of dedication to one's work. Jiro's philosophy on hard work can be universally understood and speaks to all of us. I hope I can strive to have the level of dedication to my work and life as Jiro has demonstrated. 'Jiro Dreams of Sushi' is a welcoming insight into a foreign world and has a message that we can all take in. If you are a fan of documentaries, I highly recommend watching this gem.
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 99% Audience- 93%
Yong's Rating- 4/5 stars
I have not had the chance to watch the original 'Total Recall'. So, I will not be making any comparisons to the original here. Well, because I can't. I know there's been overall negative vibe around the remake, but I didn't think it was terrible. Sure, it's not a masterpiece, but it was entertaining and easy on the eyes. Set in the future where the earth is overpopulated and polluted, life seems depressing for the average joe. Colin Farrell plays the hero of the film. Tired of his dead end life (one thing that did bother me about this movie was this- can your life really be that bad if you are waking up next to Kate Beckinsale everyday?), Farrell makes a visit to Rekall, a company that promises to make all your dreams come true. Following the visit, he suddenly becomes the most wanted man. As Farrell is getting chased by just about everyone, he must piece together clues to find out who he is. There's plenty of action and neat chase scenes. And the storyline was just intriguing enough to keep me entertained. Oh and Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel didn't hurt either. Don't be scared by the bad reviews, it's not as bad as advertised.
Rotten tomatoes- Critics- 29%, Audience- 47%
Yong's Rating- 3.5/5 Stars
Are we entering the golden age of superhero movies? Or are the studios fresh out of original ideas? 'The Amazing Spiderman' is the revamped version of the spiderman franchise. There is definitely a different feel to this franchise compared to the Tobey Maguire franchise. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this new spiderman. To quote Larry David, the new spiderman was pretty pretty pretty good. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are fresh face talents perfect for this movie. They draw the type of excitement that this revamped franchise needs.
The movie tells the story of Peter Parker and how he becomes the friendly, webbing swinging hero. However, this version of Parker's origin is slightly different from the traditional spiderman storyline that I was accustomed to. I felt that the small twists made the story fresh and actually made me care about what was happening on screen. The movie looks clean and crisp, just plain easy on the eyes. Garfield and Stone are excellent in their roles. They share good chemistry and places an unique touch to their characters. 'The Amazing Spiderman' is a well made summer action blockbuster that appeals to everyone. If you are a fan, it's well worth a look.
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 74% Audience- 84%
Yong's rating- 4/5 stars
'To Rome with Love' is Woody Allen's latest romantic comedy. It continues Woody's recent trend of filming in Europe. Set in the romantic city of Rome, the film tells the stories of an eclectic group of people brought together by the magical city. The ensemble cast features notable actors like Judy Davis, Roberto Benigni, Alison Pill, Alec Baldwin, Ellen Page, Penelope Cruz, and the return of Woody Allen. And as with any Woody movie, the city itself becomes one of the characters. Each of the stories feature light hearted fun mixed with romance, drama, and philosophical thoughts explored in many of Allen's films. While 'To Rome with Love' may not be one of Allen's better films, it's something his fans would definitely enjoy, especially seeing him back on the big screen.
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 45% Audience- 49%
Yong's Rating- 3/5 stars
'9' is a fresh take on the post apocalyptic movie genre. Fresh because I can't think of another post apocalyptic movie featuring cute rag dolls. The movie is set in the future where the machines have completely wiped out all of mankind. Imagine Sarah Conor's ultimate nightmare come true, but with dolls and killer machines. The only remnants of humanity remains with a collection of rag dolls with #'s stitched on them. Our hero, #9 wakes up to a dark and gloomy world over run by machines. When he finds others like him, he must convince them to fight back against the machines to preserve their lives.
'9' showcases impressive graphics and action. What it lacks is direction. Who were the intended audience? On the outer surface, it seems like another animation made for kids. But, '9' is much too violent and heavy to be kid friendly. I just don't think the public realized it was meant for a more mature audience. Overall, '9' just felt very flat. The storyline was just not captivating and it was hard to feel any real connection to these dolls despite their cuteness. While '9' isn't terrible, I felt that it had good potential which was wasted due to its overall lack of direction.
Rotten Tomatoes- Audience- 58% Critics- 56%
Yong's Rating- 2.5/5 stars
It's a known fact that Will Smith is the closest thing to a guaranteed box office success in Hollywood today. You put Will Smith in any movie and people will come. So, I can't really blame the studios for making a third Men in Black. You go to watch a blockbuster Will Smith movie to be entertained, to laugh and be thankful that you live in world where you can watch Will Smith travel through time to kick alien ass.
In this third installment of MIB, a dangerous alien outlaw known as Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) has escaped from a high security prison and is determined to kill the person who locked him up. He is willing to go to any length to destroy his nemesis even if that means traveling through time. Boris' action puts Agent K's (Tommy Lee Jones/ Josh Brolin) life in danger. Naturally, it's up to Agent J (Will Smith) to track down Boris the Animal and stop him before it is too late.
I actually found myself laughing and enjoying this movie very much. Josh Brolin delivers a dead on performance of the young Agent K and shares a good chemistry with Will Smith. 'MIB3' does what it's meant to do and it does it very well. It's fun and entertaining at every level. Exactly what you look for in a summer blockbuster movie. Refreshing, funny, action, Will Smith, go watch it.
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 69% Audience- 74%
Yong's rating- 3.5/5 stars
I'm guessing you have already seen 'The Avengers' by now along with the rest of the world, but just in case you haven't seen it yet or would just like to see what I thought of it, here's my review. If have seen any of the recent Marvel superhero movies like 'Thor', 'Iron Man', and 'Captain America' you probably knew 'The Avengers' was coming. With such hype surrounding this movie I was curious as to whether it would live up to its hype like LeBron James or land flat like Darko (where else can you get a Darko reference in a movie review?). There are movies that come out every summer with the tagline of 'non-stop action', and a lot of those movies are just plain terrible. In the case of 'The Avengers', it has that non-stop action quality that is both enjoyable and entertaining.
When the world is threatened by Loki (Tom Hiddleston), an evil super villain from another universe, the world must turn to a group of misfit superheroes to save them. Known as the Avengers initiative, secret government agency headed by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) seeks help from the earth's finest. There's the playboy genius, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). The all-American superhero, Captain America (Chris Evans). The reclusive scientist with a dark angry side, Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). And a pair of super assassins, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Oh, there's also a demi-god who stops by to help out, Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Can such an eclectic group of people with huge egos and personalities work together or will they fall flat? I can't tell you that, you need to watch to find out.
Overall, I was very impressed by 'The Avengers'. It really kept me entertained from the start to the end. The movie did a good job of dividing the screen time for all the characters without extending the total time. Every character had his or her special moment in the movie, and left you always wanting more. The combination of action, fancy graphics, and humor of this movie is just what every huge blockbuster should emulate to have. 'The Avengers' lives up to its hype and you can see that with its box office dominance. Only the future will tell whether this franchise has reached its peak or if there's room for improvement. Let's just say, it has set the bar very high for itself.
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics-93% Audience- 96%
Yong's Rating- 4.5/5 Stars
'Deconstructing Harry' is one of Woody Allen's more darker comedies. It tells the story of Harry Block (played by Woody), a successful writer experiencing his first writer's block. Burdened with failed relationships, financial troubles, depression, and slight addiction to pills and prostitutes, a case of writer's block seems like the least of his worries. When his former college invites him to be honored for his works, Harry plans a road trip to his old school. The trip serves as a reflection into his past as characters from his novels and people from his own memories intertwine. It's obvious that Woody got the main idea for this film from 'Wild Strawberries'. Will Harry's trip lead him to profound insights into his life as it did for Dr. Borg? Well, I guess you just have to see to find out.
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 71% Audience-79%
Yong's Rating- 4/5 Stars
In its first opening weekend, 'The Hunger Games' is already busy setting box office records . Featuring Jennifer Lawrence as the heroine Katniss Everdeen, the movie is an adaptation of the popular book series by Suzanne Collins. Being a fan of the series, I have been looking forward to seeing the book come to life on screen.
Set in a distant future of what seems to be the United States, the country is divided into 12 districts and ran by the Capitol who rules the land with an iron fist and fear. All of the districts are subjected to an annual event as a punishment for its past attempts at uprisings known as the hunger games. It serves as a lesson to show the districts how powerless they are. Each district is required to send two 'tributes' for the event. One boy and a girl between the ages of 12-18 are chosen in an annual lottery. All the tributes are put into an arena for a fight to the death until only one is left alive. When Katniss's 12 year old sister is chosen in the lottery, Katniss volunteers herself in her sister's place. She promises her sister that she will do her best to try to win and we are taken away to the Capitol to watch the Hunger games and all of its spectacles unfold.
It is always difficult to capture the same amount of connection with reading a book than with watching a movie. The author has a much wider range of medium to create the connection to the storyline and the characters. 'The Hunger Games' does do a good job of staying very close to the book. With that being said, there's some downfalls as well. The only characters who really felt close to the book was Jennifer's portrayal of Katniss and Stanely Tucci as Caesar Flickerman. Even with its length of over 2 hours, the other characters did not have enough screen time to develop a connection. I was expecting much more from Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz). Maybe having read the book did cause me to have much bigger expectations. Oh well. Overall, if you are a fan of the series, I feel the movie does do the book justice and I'm sure you have already seen the movie by now. If you are new to the series, I think reading the series first would be a good idea, unless you'd just rather get the Cliff's notes version. I'm not judging.
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 86%, Audience-95%
Yong's Rating- 3.5/5 Stars
The bad thing about watching a movie with a lot of hype is that it's more likely to disappoint than to live up to its high expectations. Well, 'Hugo' lived up to the hype and surpassed it in my opinion. Anyone who has love for movies and film history will have a hard time not falling in love with 'Hugo'. So, you can see why it wasn't so hard to win me over. Martin Scorsese shows his versatility by proving he can make a film that parents can feel safe about their children watching.
Set in Paris, the movie follows the adventures of a boy named Hugo (Asa Butterfield). After losing his father in a terrible accident Hugo devotes all of his energy to finding a purpose to his life and his current predicament. Living hidden behind the clocks in a train station, Hugo meets a strange and grumpy toy shop keeper (Ben Kingsley), and his lovely god-daughter (Chloe Grace Moretz). His encounter with these two strangers lead Hugo into a wild and wonderful adventure that helps to give him all the answers that he was seeking. I won't get too much into the storyline because it would take away from the magic of the film.
All I can say is that it is because of movies like 'Hugo', I am reminded of why I fell in love with movies in the first place. Anyone wanting to rekindle their love affair with movies, do yourselves a favor and go watch 'Hugo'!
Rotten tomatoes- Audience- 82%, Critics- 93%
Yong's Rating- 5/5 stars
Most of you are probably aware that 'The Artist' is the favorite to win the Oscar for Best Picture this year. It has become the critics' darling much like 'The King's Speech' was last year. It's a much better movie than 'The King's Speech', but I guess that's a topic for another entry.
After seeing 'The Artist' I understood the reasoning behind all the praises, and I will be very surprised if it does not win the Best Picture. 'The Artist' is the very antithesis of today's big budget Hollywood movies. If you could make a movie that is the complete opposite movies like the Transformers movies, I think you'll end up with something very close to 'The Artist'.
It tells the story of the demise of a famous silent film star, George Valentin (Jean Dujardin), whose vanity and pride prevents him from adapting to the introduction of talking pictures in the film business. Peppy Miller (Bernice Bejo) is a young, up and coming star whose fresh look and youth is exactly what the audience dying to see. The introduction of talking in movies changes the very foundation of the film industry and sets the two actors into two very different paths. It was hard not to be captivated by the facial expressions and body language of the actors. It is still amazing to see how a simple smile, a simple hop in the steps, or even a wink can express so much more than any amount of words ever can. Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo both delivery a very genuine and memorable performances. 'The Artist' is an experience that requires your complete attention and if you allow yourself to be captivated by the silent, black and white screen for an hour and forty minutes, you will walk away amazed knowing that you can have a delightful cinematic experience without having your eardrums blown away and your eyes spinning from 3-D objects flying all over the place. Do yourself a favor and go check out 'The Artist' with an open mind.
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 97%, Audience- 91%
Yong's Rating- 5/5 Stars
'Bridesmaids' is an all women cast comedy that shows girls can be just as raunchy as the guys. And every bit as funny. When Lillian (Maya Rudolph) gets engaged, she asks her childhood friend, Annie (Kristen Wiig) to be her maid of honor. This does not go well with Lillian's new friend, Helen (Rose Byrne) who is determined to steal the position of best friend. Wiig and Byrne's lives are the complete opposite. Wiig's life is in a mess. She has a failed business, financial problems and relationship troubles. On the other hand, Bryne seems to have everything in her life in order. And she always looks pretty. When Bryne uses her power to manipulate her friends to get what she wants a fun, hilarious adventure ensues.
'Bridesmaids' isn't just a raunchy rated-R comedy, it also has a heart warming story that's very enjoyable. The cast is very funny and work very well with each other. Melissa McCarthy definitely steals the show with her portrayal of Megan. She made me laugh in every one of her scenes. 'Bridesmaids' is a good balance of comedy and drama that I highly recommend. Most importantly, it teaches us that girls do poop. A lot.
Rotten Tomatoes- Critics- 90%, Audience- 76%
Yong's Rating- 4/5 stars