Alan Wong's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Dunkirk
Dunkirk (2017)
23 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

There seems little point to pile on more praises, so I will just say that this film is conceived, written and directed with Christopher Nolan's singular vision which manages to recreate a piece of history on screen in a visceral and spectacular manner, leaving its audience breathless and in awe, together with an ambitious and inspired script that is tremendously moving and thrilling at the same time. Depicting the events in 3 separate narrative strands, one on land that takes place over a week, one at sea that takes a day and lastly one by air for only an hour, the film overlaps the 3 storylines, showing them simultaneously, intercutting and weaving in and out of these narrative strands with amazing clarity and dexterity. Hoyt van Hoytema's cinematography, using IMAX cameras, produced beautifully composed images that are full of poignancy and meaning. Hans Zimmer's relentless soundtrack reinforces the escalating tension as the frantic pace of the intercutting narratives become more urgent and gripping, bringing to mind The Battle of Algiers. The script cleverly focuses on a handful of individuals and their 'smaller' stories and brings the audience into an intimate space where they can relate and care for them. And not even Harry Styles can take me out of the film, who is joined by a fine and compelling cast of known (Rylance, Hardy, Branagh..) and lesser known faces (Whitehead, Lowden Glynn-Carney...). What is truly impressive and extraordinary is not only we get to see an immersive and meticulously reenacted military operation, something a more ordinary film would do, but moreover, that Nolan manages to put that spirit of Dunkirk on the screen and that is why this is the Oscar movie to beat this year.

War for the Planet of the Apes
23 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

This summer's threequels continue, but instead of running out of steam like a lot of them have, WFTPOTA has held up its quality, both technically and narratively speaking and proves a strong film in its own right within the prequel trilogy. Combining the talents of Andy Serkis with the best in motion-capture technology, Caesar remains a marvel of a creature that's not only flesh and blood but has real complexities and depth. Other than some background monkeys that could do with a little more finesse, the film's technical achievement is outstanding as expected, but what's more notable this time are the narrative choices made by Matt Reeves who once again directs and also co-writes. Perhaps the 'War' in the title is a little misleading and Revenge on the Planet of the Apes might be more appropriate. The midsection of the film tracks Caesar's journey to find Woody Harrelson's Kurtz-like Colonel, allowing much screen time and emotional space to explore humanitarian and existential issues and becomes a more personal and intimate film. Still, it cleverly invokes classic genre films such as Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, The Great Escape and of course, Apocalypse Now, and the explosive and exciting war sequences book-ending the film will satisfy audience looking for their summer action thrills. By focusing much more on the Apes' side of the conflict and adding two new characters, one of which is mute, there is not much spoken dialogue, and the resulting quietness coupled with some very inspired and stylish directorial choices Reeves made in playing out certain action scenes only to music and muffled sound effects, creates a poetic sense of poignancy and turns the film into something more thoughtful, intriguing and appealing than what you would expect.

Despicable Me 3
30 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

There are not many animation that I would consider paying money for: most Pixar, some Disney and the odd Lego Movie. Ghibli, too, but that come more under foreign cinema. And then there's the guilty pleasures of Gru and his Minions. There was undeniable charm in their eccentric though infantile humour but the main appeal is their cheeky, rather gruesome and anarchic tone. But as they get more popular, that gets more diluted out. During the course of the trilogy, Gru has acquired 3 adorable girls, a wife and now a brother in that order. And as a result of that ballooning cast, it becomes problematic to find a plot, no matter how slight, for everyone to hang around for and the Minions, by far the funniest creation of the franchise, are sidetracked. Thankfully these separate and scattered storylines - unicorn hunting; Lucy being a trainee mum, an 80s obsessed villain (funniest thing since the Minions and aptly voiced by Trey Parker of South Park) and of course Gru's discovery of his twin brother, somehow manage to converge, together with the Minions which literally drift back in after what is in essence a mini-Minion-movie detour, in the finale. The film remains as colourful and dazzling as its predecessors but this outing feels patchier and it will need to get more inventive and focused for this over-aged viewer if you want me to pay again the next time.

The Big Sick
The Big Sick (2017)
33 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

Adapting The Smith's song, Girlfriend in a Coma, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon has turned it into an indie drama rom-com... only kidding, as that would be in bad taste except this is a somewhat autobiographical film and Gordon was actually in a medically induced coma when the doctors could not figure out why her body was shutting down due to an infection. Tackling one morbid subject as a source of comedy is hard enough but add to that Kumail's character is a Muslim stand-up comedian from a Pakistani immigrant family who is desperately arranging his marriage, we have more issues to explore here than a Reader's Digest library. Good thing that their mindful script manages to sidestep the sensitivity and thorniness with charm and humour and produces an engaging winner. It also helps that Emily's parents are touchingly played by Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as unhysterical human beings. Steering clear of sentimentality and false notes, their story is cute but also genuine. Films of this irk are often criticised for the unrealistic, contrived even, fairytale endings, however in this case, they have reality on their side, as it can legitimately work towards a critics-proof positive note followed by photos showing the happy ending in real life. As it turns out, this film is a timely feel-good tonic for the crazy, prejudiced world we live in today.

It Comes At Night
37 days ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Is 'Art-house Horror' now a thing? I am referring to the small budgeted, more atmospheric than scary horror/indie thriller where little is explained about the horrible circumstances that the characters find themselves in and the film relies on the audience to fill in those blanks from their previous cinematic/TV experience. Here, we have a mixed race family (very 2017!) headed by Joel Edgerton who have boarded themselves inside a big, creepy house from an unknown and unexplained plague and everyone's an enemy until proven otherwise. Should they help and befriend Christopher Abbot's intruder and his wife and young son in exchange for food and human company? So far so mysterious, and to its credit, director-writer Trey Edward Shults manages to sustain this tension throughout the film via unsettling and claustrophobic cinematography, fluid editing that blurs nightmare with reality and a screenplay that plays up the ambiguity as to who's the good guy and who isn't. This is a great calling card for Shults and his future film-making career, but after teasing its audience for 90mins, the film's climactic reveal feels uncompromisingly underplayed and while this works for the art-house crowd, the horror crowd might feel shortchanged and rather ambivalent, just like the ending they have witnessed as they walk out with a collective shrug.