Alan Wong's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

Free Fire
Free Fire (2017)
7 days ago via Movies on iPad

The set up is economical and enticing: Tarantino-esque (though closer to The Hateful Eight than Reservoir Dogs) with a British sense of humour; and Ben Wheatley manages to conjure up a film with a handful of watchable and recognizable actors made almost unrecognizable with 70s facial hair (even Patrick Bergin pops in from the 90s for a welcomed but all too brief appearance) and a thin story with one great idea, copious amount of swearing and some very funny one-liners for Sharlto Copley?s character. When a gun deal goes violently wrong, there?s mistrust and betrayal on both sides leading to a long and protracted shoot-out in a warehouse for the next 80 mins or so. An audacious and ambitious endeavour by a writer-director that refuses pigeon-holing, it is a fun piece of pure, visceral entertainment at the very least. However, it could have been more if it is less chaotic and repetitive, with more characterisation than just people pointing their guns and shooting wildly and blindly at anyone and everyone. If Wheatley sets out to prove he can be as commercial and accessible as any other directors around, then he has certainly succeeded but the end result here is stylish yet superficial and disposable.

Ghost in the Shell
7 days ago via Movies on iPad

Perhaps it is because not being a fan I do not consider the original Anime sacred texts or perhaps I just get such a kick out of seeing Hong Kong, the place I grew up in, enhanced by way of Inception style cinematography and Blade Runner/The Fifth Element production designs, but I find Rupert Sanders? beautifully and meticulously rendered film more watchable than offensive. The story is a fairly conventional one in a Mission Impossible kind of way. There?s a mid-film reveal that?s hardly surprising but generally I find myself, superficially at least, captivated by the strong visuals and coolly executed action sequences. Attempts to inject something deeper and more meaningful about humanity and consciousness into the briskly paced action thriller, while not entirely successful, are at least done with the lightest of touch and the minimal of disruption to the flow of the film. It can feel rather derivative but, for fear of being too kind here, it is hardly surprising since there?s been too many other and better films made that?s been inspired by (or lifted from) the same source material this film is based on.  The international cast, where diversity is now mandated after the Rogue One Agreement of 2016, is headed by Scarlett Johansson, a non-Asian who looks the part and acts robotically but lacks any real emotional depths in scenes that could have elevated the film into more than just the popcorn sci-fi thriller that it is now. Personally, I find that more problematic than the whitewashing where the film?s response could either be seen as lip service or an inspired marketing excuse.

Get Out
Get Out (2017)
20 days ago via Movies on iPad

In Jordan Peele?s debut, he officially declares his independence, not only from the comedic partnership of Key & Peele but also from their sketch comedy roots; nevertheless, it still lurks in the background in a film that comes across as a sketch idea that ends up translating better than expected in feature length form. There is more creepiness and dark humour than proper horror here, even though the last 15 minutes is pure blood and gore and all the more satisfying for it. Peele?s directing is assured and his own script delivers an unsettling something?s not quite right feeling against the idyllic and very white suburbia setting, while Bradley Whitford, Allison Williams and Catherine Keener bring The Stepford Wives/Rosemary?s Baby vibe on. Perhaps it is done so well, there seems to be little room left for any doubts or surprises on the fate of the unsuspecting black boyfriend, played with wide-eyed innocence by newcomer Daniel Kaluuya. As with most films of this genre, the final act has convenient plot contrivances that are papered over by one-liners but it is to the film?s credit that it still never loses its charm or its hold over its audience. While the film touches on issues such as race and race relations, this Twilight Zone take on Guess Who?s Coming to Dinner is clever and thoughtful, timely even, but hardly groundbreaking and its satirical value is limited. In other words, one shouldn?t read too much into what is essentially a fun piece of escapist entertainment.

The Salesman (Forushande)
21 days ago via Movies on iPad

A couple moves into an apartment that unbeknown to them was occupied by a less than honorable woman (code for prostitute) and the wife is attacked by someone who might have mistaken her for the previous tenant. All this takes place while a theatre company, in which the couple are the leads, are in final rehearsal for a production of Death of A Salesman. Set in writer-director, Asghar Farhadi?s home country of Iran and similar to his previous film, A Separation, which is admittedly better and more engaging, we see another marriage being tested under a set of stressful circumstances. This time, though, it is slightly meandering and sometimes narratively baffling (at least when filtered through our more Western eyes) but nevertheless it is an observant and fascinating film that explores the themes of guilt, shame and forgiveness in a male dominated Muslim society and won him a second Oscar for Movie in a Foreign Language (deservedly beating Toni Erdmann but Land of Mine from Denmark trumps both in my opinion). The couple?s cultural and intellectual backgrounds give them a sense of modernity that contrast with their more conventional and in the husband?s case, primal, reactions. Though I am not convinced how much depth and poignancy the juxtaposition of Arthur Miller?s play adds to the film and a simpler narrative structure might have been more effective. The middle section sags and works less well than the final section when the culprit is revealed and confronted in a claustrophobic and very theatrical setting, re-energising the film just in time for the powerful, melodramatic and gripping ending.

Life
Life (2017)
21 days ago via Movies on iPad
½

A very genre specific sci-fi horror film in which we find a bunch of scientists on a space station orbiting Earth discovering a single cell Lifeform in samples received from Mars that soon multiplies into a nasty Predator, and turn our scientists into Alien chow. Conventionally made this Alien clone might also remind you of other similar films such as Event Horizon or The Thing, but the most disappointing thing is how closely the film follow the formulaic conventions and plotting of the post-Scream postmodern slasher film, even down to those ?surprise? plot-twists that we?ve all seen before that now just induce mass audience shrugging alongside the mass audience groaning at the plotholes and dumb decisions the characters make. The small cast gives it their best considering the material but there really is nothing much for them to do ? which leads me to suspect Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds slumming it here as a bit of fun and a career-cleanser in between better films. The production values and special effects are decent but there?s nothing special other than just competence in Daniel Espinosa?s direction who often relies too much on loud sound effects to conjure up the scares when less could have been eerily more.