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Rating History

Avengers: Age of Ultron
19 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

After the first Avengers film 3 years ago, we finally get to see the gang back together again! Being one of the most highly anticipated films of 2015, can Marvel deliver its magic once again with a slightly darker, serious and slightly complex plotline? (don't worry, not as dark and serious as the Dark Knight Trilogy or Man of Steel) Well, safely to say, it's still undeniably another massively entertaining and enjoyable feast for Marvel fans. There are more awesome and cooler action sequences, wonderful character moments with funny witty dialogues, spectacular visuals with more new Avenger characters filling in this time around. With writer/director Joss Whedon at helm again with all the same actors reprising their roles, the film still feels lively with the occasional team banters.

There's a lot to deliver in Avengers: Age of Ultron...aside from the main plotline, world-building, bigger and better action scenes that needs to be in the sequel, it needs to set up the beginnings of Marvel's Phase 3 plans as well. As a result, there are lots of subplots and references going around in the film for fans to take note of: Tony and Steve clashing ideologies for Captain America: Civil War, mentioning of Wakanda and the introduction of Ulysses Klaw, enemy of Black Panther and Thor's vision of Asgard for Thor: Ragnarok and Infinity War. So it's definitely not an easy task for Joss Whedon to juggle with so many characters in the same film. Thankfully, every hero does get their chance to shine. Surprisingly, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow and Clint Barton/Hawkeye have bigger roles this time around and are more involved than before with their character arcs. The film is very clear with its theme, by showing how misguided intentions, no matter how noble they may be, could potentially lead to more death and destruction.

The action scenes are very well choreographed with superb, top notch CGI effects. Hulk is getting more screen time smashing several Ultron robots with his fists, and even Iron Man, himself too. The massive, destructive battle between the Hulkbuster Mark 44 Iron Man suit against the Hulk is definitely one of the highlights of the film. Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Vision, they all have a good balance of action screen time to show their abilities against Ultron and his robotic armies (except for War Machine and Falcon, which have a slightly minor role compared with the rest). The final climactic battle of the film is certainly the most over-the-top, "comic booky" thing ever put on screen (not sure it's a good or bad thing).

With that being said, now comes the bad part. The film has too many new characters introduced in this sequel and not enough character development to make them memorable (despite the film's long running time) and this hurts the film a lot. The 'Enchanced' Twins' origins were simply brushed off by a few lines from the main characters and Vision's powers were not clearly explained in the film. Moreover, there's too much going on that there's simply no time for the casual audience (non-Marvel fans) to take a breather and slowly digest the new plot and character developments.

There were lots of sudden plot developments shoehorned into the story: forced romance between Banner/Hulk and Natasha/Black Widow (When did Natasha start having feelings for Banner?), the introduction of two vital team members - Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, the birth and introduction of Vision, the increased development of Hawkeye, the introduction and development of the main villain, Ultron. Not to mention, there are other members of the gang needs to be on the spotlight as well.

The main villain, Ultron is rather disappointing. His motivations of destroying humanity aren't clear enough, his grudge against Tony feels rushed and underdeveloped, which makes him less compelling. In comparison, Scarlet Witch is a far more terrifying force compared to Ultron as the film clearly shows that she has the power to tear the whole team (Avengers) apart like they were nothing.

In short, is Avengers: Age of Ultron as good as The Avengers? Well, it's near there and it's good enough, but without exceeding expectations. It seems that the film is quite rushed and fast-paced due to the editing cuts needed to make the film shorter (the first cut is said to be roughly 3 hours). The script does feel slightly weaker than the more well-constructed first film, but the action, witty dialogue is more than enough to make up for it. With the release of The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel's second Phase is coming to an end very soon (after this year's Ant-Man).


Cinderella (2015)
20 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Cinderella has always been a love fairytale about the courage and kindness of the human spirit that we all familiar and love. It's been a very long time since a fairytale has been told as it is. There have been many mediocre or disastrous results when the filmmakers took creative license with fantasy fairytales to make it more 'exciting' or action-packed. Still remember Snow White and the Huntsman, Maleficent, Into The Woods, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, Red Riding Hood? That's what I mean.

This film is a straightforward live-action remake of the classical fairytale without the musical aspect. Yeah, there's not much singing this time around, just drama...Rather unusual for a Disney film. It was faithful to the original story, with some wonderful additions or improvements to the story as well. The film does a great job in showing us an enchanting, mesmerizing, fantastical world with its spectacular costume designs and special effects. Every scene of the film is a delightful watch, filled with beautiful, vibrant colours.

The love romance between Cinderella and the Prince Charming is more than just 'love at first sight' and not just for looks and status after meeting only once. The Prince was captivated by Ella's ability to see the world as it could be, with heart, courage and kindness. Ella was amused by the Prince's humility and courtesy without knowing that he is royalty. The film also showed that the Prince has a loving and respectful relationship with his father, the King. Their relationship is built on love, trust and mutual respect for each other. Moreover, I was quite surprised that the film actually includes the origin of the name, 'Cinderella' - a cruel nickname for Ella by her stepmother and stepsisters by adding 'cinder' to her name because she used to clean the cinders from the fire and sleep near them to warm herself when her attic room is too cold.

Lily James does a fine job as titular heroine Cinderella, a kind and innocent girl who's true to herself from beginning to end. If all of us could see the world as Cinderella did, the world would be a far more better place. I believe that Richard Madden managed to charm a lot of female audience's heart (not just Cinderella's) for his humility, chivalry and relentless pursuit of happiness and love. Cate Blanchett plays a convincing role of the evil stepmother, Lady Tremaine. The film added a bit of depth to the character, by portraying her as a woman who's changed by hardships of reality, eventually believes that status, power and wealth is everything and that kindness or love is not free.

In the film, Ella asks the Prince whether he is willing to accept her as she is, and it's her goodness and sincerity that truly made her happily ever after in the end. From someone who grew up watching and reading classical fairytales, it's great to see this old fairytale being brought back to life with such charm and beauty. A gorgeous remake of Cinderella for the new generation.

Frozen Fever: A Frozen short film about Elsa desperately trying to prepare the best birthday celebration for Anna despite her not feeling well. It's great to see back Anna and Elsa before moving on to watch the main film.

Rating: 8/10


Furious 7
Furious 7 (2015)
20 months ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The Fast & Furious series is back again with its seventh latest "furiouser" installment, Furious 7. The series has changed a lot over the years...first about illegal street racing in Los Angeles, then a serious heist thriller and now a global spy thriller. (Yes, you heard me! The gang are now turned into international secret military operatives!) Over the years, the franchise has always been delivering on what they promised: bombastic action, hot babes in bikinis and lots of sports cars... with recent installments more focused on the main characters, making each of them individually defined enough to be easily recognized on screen.

This film is also director James Wan's (mostly directed horror films like Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious) first go at the franchise, and there are subtle changes compared to the last four films, which were previously helmed by Justin Lin (who's moved on to direct the next Star Trek film). Needless to say, this has got to be the most epic, extravagant, ridiculous yet jaw-dropping, action-packed, emotional film in the franchise. In this film, the team tries to take down the dangerous ex-black ops British terrorist Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham), the brother of Owen Shaw (the villain in the previous installment, played by Luke Evans) who comes for revenge. In order to find and track him down, they need to assist in securing a kidnapped hacker from a terrorist group.

The film is constantly filled with tension and excitement despite its slightly long running time (2 hours and 20 minutes). The impressive, absurd yet glorious stunt-filled action sequences featured in this film will definitely keep the audience glued to the screen. They able to both match and even top the efforts of its previous installments. Aside from the usual sport cars that many viewers of the franchise used to be seeing in the past, there are more luxurious supercars being used this time around: Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Maserati, Lamborghini, and the exclusive $3.4 million Lykan HyperSport. There are also a few comic relief scenes with Roman (Tyrese Gibson) as well to relief some of tension between the action sequences.

The team have good chemistry with each other and the film does have a plot, albeit a simple one. As usual, Vin Diesel still bring his 'alpha' leadership to the team, Paul Walker as his right-hand man with life experiences as an FBI agent, Michelle Rodriguez as his racing support/lover-'miss alpha', Dwayne Johnson as the team's 'muscle man support'/connection to the police, Chris Bridges as the tech guy, Tyrese Gibson as the comic relief. There's also a new female addition to the team, Ramsey, a highy attractive hacker who's also the key to the film's MacGuffin. The inclusion of Thai martial artist Tony Jaa (Ong Bak) and mixed martial artist Ronda Rousey (The Expendables 3) also add flavour to the close-combat fight action scenes in the film as well.

However, the film is not without its problems. The franchise's biggest problem has always been the lack of compelling, memorable villains. The same can be said for this one as well. There are two villains this time around and they were constantly sidelined most of the time by each other and the big action sequences. The characters are not well developed enough, which is a waste. There are some plot contrivances here and there and some dialogues in certain scenes are particularly cheesy and corny, which I think viewers of the franchise would get used to them by now.

The film also provides the audience a nice sendoff and tribute to Paul Walker at the end. Another major problem for the film is the tragic untimely death of Paul Walker during the film production (everyone should know by now that Paul died in a car accident last year halfway through filming), which forced the studio to hire Walker's brothers to step in and that CGI would be used for his face and voice. All in all, the film has high entertainment value, delivers on all fronts and a brilliant last ride for Paul Walker.

Rating: 8/10