So how did the movies I watched in 2016 fared? Frankly speaking there was no clear cut winner for my No.1 like previous years. The Top two movies could have been my favourite movies of the year but as usual, there must be one winner. Overall, the movies I’ve watched were above average and of course, there were many disappointments (where I have high expectations) and also movies that really stank. 2015 movies had better feel in my opinion.
There are some movies that I’ve planned to watch in 2016 but didn’t have the chance. Below are some movies that missed my radar last year :-
1) Arrival (so many praises)
2) La La Land
3) The Edge of Seventeen
4) The Witch
5) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Ok, I was kidding)
6) Hacksaw Ridge
7) Hell or High Water
So there are my lists that I’ve yet to catch in 2016 and well, there are more but these are the ones that I am more anticipating.
Amy Adams in her role in Arrival. It should be coming out in local cinemas next week. Can’t wait
Honourable mentions. Ok, before I head off and list my Top 10 movies of 2016, let me share with you my honourable mentions. These are the list that missed out my top 10 of 2016 and I still want to highlight them. Here goes.
1) Deepwater Horizon
2) Me Before You
3) The Handmaiden (Korean)
4) 10 Cloverfield Lane
5) Your Name (Japanese)
6) Rogue One: A Star Wars story
7) Kubo & the Two Strings
9) Central Intelligence
I highly recommend you catch The Handmaiden, the same director who did Old Boy. Twisted and sensual and I love the story and the cinematography. A fine piece of film making.
Disappointments. These movies that I have so much expectations based on the hype and the trailers but didn’t translate well on the big screen. Why oh why? Here are the list.
1) Suicide Squad
2) The Secret Life of Pets
3) Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice
4) Jason Bourne
6) Jack Reacher: Never Go Back
7) Independence Day: Resurgence
8) X-Men: Apocalypse
I love the trailers and the hype but the movie was a let down though I watched it twice. There are some good part but the negatives were heavier.
The Bombs. Movies that I had to suffer in front of the big screen. Sometimes I have no choice but to catch some stinkers. Mind you I won’t watch movies that are predictably bad such as Jackie Chan movies (Skip trace and Railroad Tigers), Assassin’s Creed and Zoolander 2 to name a few. But here are the list that I regretted watching.
1) Gods of Egypt
3) The 5th Wave
4) Mechanic: Resurrection
5) Nine Lives
7) Underworld: Blood Wars
Why oh why…. Totally bad from start to finish.
10. Dr. Strange. It was no strange surprise that I have a few superhero movies in my top list. Consistency is the word when it comes to Marvel Cinematic Universe. The trailer already blew me away and I already have high expectations on Dr. Strange and the full movie delivered more than that. With the emergence of DC movies, it was a gamble for Dr. Strange to be released in November and people will tend to lose interest in a never ending superhero movie in 2016. Strangely enough, this wasn’t the case for Dr. Strange and it turned out to be very entertaining and many would even compared this flick with Inception. Scott Derrickson the director found a way to simplify the sophisticated premise and entertained the audience at the same time. I watched this movie twice and I thought this would have easily been my Top 5 of 2016. It does really live up to its title. I can’t wait to add to my Blu-ray collection.
9. Bad Moms. 2016 has been very mediocre when it comes to comedy. The closest to Bad Moms that I enjoyed were Central Intelligence and The Nice Guys, both in my honourable mentions. I watched this in Ipoh of all places and I had a blast. A real blast. Even my friend Sophia loved it. The title itself was funny enough and I never really took notice of the trailer. It also became a sleeper hit in the States as it raked it more than USD 100 million. Many would also agree how hilarious this movie was. It was also a stand out performance (comedy sense) by Kathryn Hahn who kept cracking me up every time she makes a fool of herself. The trio chemistry of Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn truly made this comedy an enjoyable one and also leaving us with a good message in the end. A sequel, perhaps? And yes, I caught this twice in the cinema.
8. Moana. Holy Molly. Was I amazed by Disney’s latest offering Moana.. A few years ago Frozen stole the show among kids and even adults. Now we have Moana and frankly speaking, this is more rewarding and enjoyable than Frozen. There are so many things to love about Moana. The two main characters – Moana voiced by Auli’i Cravalho and Maui by Dwayne Johnson – were perhaps the most engaging duo I’ve come across this year on the big screen. The original songs were even catchy and suited the theme of Moana. This animation has charm and beauty. I have hardly heard any bad comments about Moana and that itself is a good testament on how awesome Moana is. The final act was one of the best, if not the best, to cap off a stunning masterpiece from Disney. I almost caught it for the third time and it’s still showing in our local cinemas. Catch it if you haven’t. No regrets 😀
7. Zootopia. This was a close call between Moana and Zootopia. Imagine an animation released back in January and some how many would have forgotten about it. Well, not me. This was the surprise package among all the animation. Not much publicity or marketing like other animations (Dory, Moana) given for Zootopia but that didn’t matter at all. I love every single thing about Zootopia and the only letdown is the lack of variety in original songs. Nonetheless, this shows that an animation can still be pull off to be a magnificent movie even without music scores or songs. What I really love about Zootopia is the richness of the characters and thoughtful message that still lingers in my head. Not to forget how entertaining and humourous Zootopia was. A very subversive storytelling delivery that you would appreciate.
6. Captain America: Civil War. Surprise, surprise. This is not even in my Top 5 list and I thought it would be. Captain America’s final trilogy was perhaps the best among the lot, even among The Avengers. The Russo brothers have risen the bar for the Marvel Cinematic Universe and this is one reason why DC Universe is trailing so behind despite their presence this year which failed to live up to the audiences’ and my expectations. The introduction of the new Spider-man and Black Panther were spot on and effective on screen. Even with multiple characters, the Russo brothers have this gift to create such a compelling story line and this is a superhero movie mind you. One thing that I didn’t expect from this genre where it tests your conscience who is right and who is wrong. This was more than just a superhero movie as it touched on friendships and conflicts. I loved the feud and the rivalry within the Avengers which showed the imperfections that superheroes experienced from time to time. Sadly it just missed my Top 5 of 2016.
5. Our Times. It has been years since I enjoyed a flick from Taiwan, the last being You’re the Apple of My Eye. (2010). It wasn’t until my friend Sandy recommended me to catch Our Times, apparently a bigger hit than You’re the Apple of My Eye. Oh yes, this was very enjoyable indeed. It has a similar theme but a slightly different angle. It did remind me of my childhood and school days but I felt more resonated with the previous movie. Then again, I’m a sucker for this type of movies and I was hooked from the beginning to the end. Frankie Chen Yu-shan, the director of Our Times, created one of the best romantic teenage movies in a long time. I loved the main casts and their chemistry from start to finish. The only missing were my tears *lol* and this was the difference between Our Times and You’re The Apple of My Eye (which I cried). It’s hard to have romance higher up in my list and it made my Top 5 for 2016.
4. Don’t Breathe. The trailer looked amazing and I knew that this is destined to be an awesome thriller. It delivered beyond my expectations and boy, was I on the edge of my seat on certain occasions. It reminded me on my childhood days watching Jurassic Park for the first time – the intensity and the suspense, all in one. This is one clever piece of storytelling and it all happens within the premise of a house. The synopsis looked simple indeed but the direction by Fede Alvarez made the cinematic experience so fulfilling and rewarding. How I wished I watched this in the best equipped cinema to bring the most out of Don’t Breathe. Another example how silence can deliver an impact on a horror/thriller movie. This movie alone has high replay value. I can’t ask for more but I hope there is no sequel. Let’s end of a high note.
3 (A Tie). Deadpool. My Oh My. This movie was literally banned in Brunei and only showing in Miri, the closest any Brunei could watch. I caught this in Ho Chi Minh City and boy, I loved everything about Deadpool. Sometimes I wonder if Marvel Cinematic Universe bought the rights from Fox for Deadpool, can they deliver the same feel? I doubt so. Deadpool surprised me on many different levels. It was able to breach the R-rated level for a comic icon and still make it entertaining for the audiences. By right, this is the real character of Deadpool in comics – violent and mouthful. If Civil War is the best film in MCU, then Deadpool is the best Marvel movie to date. It’s packed with action, comedy with tons of puns and this is one movie where you can simply just have FUN!!! A good comeback for Ryan Reynolds after his flop stunt as the Green Lantern, ironically a DC character. Please catch this if you haven’t.
3 (A Tie). Mermaid. Ahaaa!! You might be wondering why I have two movies on my third spot. Well, I was reminded by my friend Pranika of the Mermaid movie as I was browsing through my list and she remembered how I responded to Stephen Chow’s blockbuster hit. I would say that this is one of the best comedy movies (slapstick) that I’ve enjoyed in a long, long time. I was disappointed with Journey to the West and CJ7 but Mermaid was a good comeback from Stephen Chow. Of course, the hilarious scene was still the human octopus at the restaurant scene. For those wondering, this is the only senseless movie that I can give an excuse for its implausible plot and getting a kick out of it and leaving the theatre feeling satisfied and rewarded. A movie I could watch countless time without being bored. Stephen Chow, you have won back my faith in you (in making lame ass movies).
2. The Revenant. Technically this is a 2015 movie. However, this was release in February 2016. I was hooked from the beginning to the end and this movie is 2 and a half hours long mind you. I love Alejandro González Ińárritu’s work and I was so looking forward to The Revenant. This is a masterpiece in film making and every shot and scene was executed to almost perfection. I was glad that Leonardo Di Caprio got his dues when he bagged the Oscars for his role in The Revenant. He was the star of the show (and bits from the bear too). This movie is definitely not for everyone as some of my peers didn’t enjoyed it as much as I did. If you are into film making, there are so many things to learn from here. Great acting from all the cast and superb cinematography. I also enjoyed the music score. This is a slow burn flick that almost made it to summit of my favourite movies of 2016. Almost.
1.Train to Busan. Woohoo!!! Yes, I’m a sucker for zombie movies and my expectations are always high on this. What an awesome movie to begin with!! I heard about this Korean flick online, I was hoping that it will make it Brunei screens. Two months later, it was screened and it was the most talked about movie during that time. Even my instagram post had many engagements and comments on Train to Busan. The premise itself looked simple – zombies in a train but I love the creativity by the director Sang-ho Yeon. Some would say he stole materials from World War Z. I would say the director improvised it to a different level which I appreciated. The chemistry between the son and the daughter was enough to create tear jerky moments. Expect a lot of actions, suspense, drama and frustration along the ride. The direction itself was ambitious and the formula paid off handsomely. Kudos also to the supporting cast for making us care about them too and who will not forget the antagonist who stole the show half way through the movie. I’m ready for another train ride but this time on blu-ray. It was between the Revenant and Train to Busan for the No.1 spot. It boiled down to emotions and the final scene of TTB stole my heart and hence, TTB is my number one pick for 2016.
Anna Kendrick as Princess Poppy and Justin Timberlake as Branch in Trolls
Trolls. I was simply amazed by the story itself. We have seen many animation this year alone and I’ve come to a point where my eyes can get tired watching more animated movies. Trolls stars Anna Kendrick as Princess Poppy and she’s my favourite eye candy actress and other is Justin Timberlake as Branch. The unlikely pair of Trolls faced a huge challenge in saving their community of trolls. I won’t spoil much.
The Good. Totally colourful from start to finish and it’s a feel good movie especially when you are going through a bad day. Well, I wasn’t then :p I love the theme and the trolls themselves are cute enough to draw many of the children’s attention. I only find them cute in the beginning. The choices of music were spot on and we are all familiar with the hit songs too. Perhaps the best part of the movie is the take back message for the audience. I was moved by it and it still lingers in my head.
The Bad. Hmmmmm this is somewhat a tiresome plot. It’s pretty easy to say that this is an overdone storyline but good thing that Trolls managed to sway my attention with its delivery and humour. Otherwise it would have been a mediocre animation. Some will like it, some will find it “meeeh”..
The Verdict: Kids will love this. I actually love this too. I still prefer Zootopia. Nonetheless, a movie that brings joy and meaning to our lives. I had a lot of fun with Trolls. So did my movie partner in crime, Pranika. Score: 8/10
Dr. Strange was strangely entertaining
Dr. Strange. There are so many things I wanna talk about the latest Marvel flick. Something different from the typical superhero movies be Marvel or DC. At the beginning, I was skeptical how Dr. Strange will turn out after watching the first trailer. Can the audience accept this? Or will it be too “mystical” for some? I found it to be very entertaining and hell yeah, I was engaged from beginning to the end.
The audience have become so accustomed to super heroes with super powers. Now you bring magic powers in the equation and this is something refreshing to our eyes. Call it weird but I still came out satisfied and fulfilled. Even my peers had similar comments that Dr. Strange was well crafted Marvel movie.
The Good. I can relate this to Inception, the first movie that caught many eyes when it came to the special effects. It explored further and it may be confusing in the beginning but the visuals made sense after a set piece or so. It was a “trippy” ride and I still could follow the logic and especially the plot.
Cumberbatch was well suited for this role and I can’t wait for the sequel. This movie is such a great teaser for future Dr. Strange movies. The movie also failed not to cast some humour (spells) to make this mystical movie light hearted. For the visuals alone, this latest Marvel movie is worth the trip and I love the final confrontation scene. Ingenious.
The Bad. Sometimes I wonder how it will fit to the Marvel Universe when Dr. Strange meets up with The Avengers and other Marvel Super Heroes. I can become philosophical when there’s a mismatch of super powers or super natural stuff. For instance, Suicide Squad vs a Supernatural villain which was a total mismatch.
It can be confusing for some when it comes to the twisting digital kaleidoscope. Young adults will appreciate the artistry but children might get lost in translation. I also wished they could have a better score to suit the theme of the movie.
Verdict: Totally love this movie. I had so much fun and I caught it twice already. Just imagine a mash up of Matrix and Inception but I rather you experience it for yourself on a trippy ride. Score: 8.5/10
Pranika gave it a thumbs up even before watching the movie. Magical indeed.
Both Jerry and Laurence loved it and to top it off, they caught me snoring for 3 seconds :p
The movie plot. A stranger arrives in a little village and soon after a mysterious sickness starts spreading. A policeman is drawn into the incident and is forced to solve the mystery in order to save his daughter. Taken from IMDb.
I heard about the movie from my friend Simon Soo. He texted me out of the blue that and highly recommending me to catch it on DVD a few weeks ago. I never thought it would make it to Brunei screens until I read the papers yesterday. Yes, I’m a huge fan of Korean movies and I am amazed that Korean movies are being screened here and I love Train to Busan (9/10). So did Wailing live up to my expectations? Yes and no. Here goes.
The Good. The direction was great and there’s always this niche about Korean directors. The story itself had different dimensions and made me guess on the motives of the antagonist or in this case,the demon (hope that ain’t a spoiler). So I have to give my thumbs up to Hong-jin Na (The Chaser) who wrote and directed.
I also enjoyed how the mystery teased the audience and it kept me perplexed at same stage. Even with the dark themes involved, the director managed to inject some dark humour to it. Well, that didn’t ease me that much as I was slightly disturbed by uncomfortable scenes. This is definitely not for kids with gore and violence being portrayed.
The Bad. Though I love the idea of the plot twists, they seemed to be implausible at some points. Then again, I believe the director has an intention to create thought provoking moments for movie goers and it successfully does that. I quickly used google magic to help understand further the deep meaning of The Wailing. So to me, I was left a little bemused and I’m pretty sure my interpretation could be different from others.
Like I mentioned before, I felt uncomfortable the scenes especially the demonic ones and if I were to mention in detail, then I would be sharing some spoilers. This also had long duration time, running at 156 minutes. It didn’t feel as draggy but I kinda felt it was a little too long. The ending was ambiguous but I still enjoyed it nonetheless.
Verdict: None of the best Korean mystery movies but it was enough to keep me interested. I’m sure others might enjoyed it more than I did. I will definitely get the blu-ray and it’s already available. If you love mystery with elements of horror and suspense, you’re in for a treat. 7.5/10
The Wailing (trailer)
One of the casts of The Wailing
The cast of The Wailing