FILM : Jumping, Aliens, Roadtrip & Window Washing

Okay, I realized that most of the readers ( .. macam la ramai sangat) used to come in here for movie / music reviews. It's been a while since I reviewed something here... ever since I was so busy with wedding preparations, getting married, the aftermath, the honeymoon bla bla bla.. I do admit, the intentions are there, but I put the blame on no time and uninspiring mojo. Either that or I was so tired and lazy.

So right now, I think I'm settling down. And I guess the mojo is coming back. So, I hope I will rediscover the fire in my belly to write about all the things that we used to share.. and that is entertainment.

To kick-start things off, me and my wife held our own movie marathon last weekend. We were so pissed that because of the wedding (plus work and other family matters) we couldn't really find the time to do the one thing that we loved the most and that is watching movies in the cinema. So realizing that we had no plans for the weekend, we decided to watch CJ7 and Jumper on Saturday, and Dunia Baru : The Movie and Cuci on Sunday, back to back. Here's my take on the films..


Jumper
Synopsis : David Rice (Hayden Christensen) finds out that he possess the power of teleportation and uses it to set out on his own and live a life of privilege and excitement. Life begins to change when a religious sect of paladin hunters headed by (Samuel Jackson) discover his whereabouts and begin the task of tracking him down. David then uses this difficult time to reunite with his grade school crush Millie (Rachel Bilson). An alliance is made with the more experienced jumper Griffin (Jamie Bell) to fight the paladins so they can live again without worry.

Teleportation; the idea of going to any place that you desire without the hassle of airport customs, airline food and holiday budget is very exciting and exhilarating. So after watching the trailer for this Doug Liman crafted, sci-fi thriller, I admit my expectations was very high for a very solid action adventure a-la The Matrix (or even The Fly). Plus Sam Jackson is in it, so it's got to be badass.. But it failed to deliver on so many levels that it turns out to be very confusing rather than amusing.

First and foremost, the acting. I have nothing against Hayden Christensen but the guy is so wrong for this part. I don't see any charisma at all in his acting. (Are we talking about Anakin Skywalker here?) Plus there is zero chemistry between him and Rachel Bilson. Bilson although very cute, is very annoying as our hero childhood sweetheart. She keeps asking all this questions after questions that sometimes I wish that our hero could teleport her to a cave in Ariege Pyrenees (..google it). Even the always badass Sam Jackson is very limited in his antagonist role as a Paladin. (Paladin = the bad guy who chases Jumpers = the good guy). Jamie Bell, as a vagabond British Jumper is the saving grace but he alone could not carry the movie.

Secondly, the story. Based on a novel by Steven Gould, Jumper is written by David S Goyer who above all, wrote Batman Begins. I guess he took too much sleeping pills while writing this one because they were so many things unexplained that you could almost sympathize with Rachel Bilson character for asking so many questions. Why do the young Jumpers have the ability to teleport around the world in an instant? Why has there been a centuries-long war between the Jumpers and Paladins, who maintain a private army of executioners with apparently unlimited resources? How is it possible that our hero, David Rice 'jumped' as a child, then completely forgot about it for more than a decade? How has David gotten through years of blissful jumping with no notion that the Paladins (or, for that matter, other jumpers) even exist? Why do jumpers themselves exist? How many are there, and how long have they been around? What's the deal with her mom? What The Fuck? I guess the obvious thing to do next is a prequel answering all these questions. 'Jumper 2 : Mid-Air', anyone?

Best Bit : The 'jumping' effects were cool, I have to admit. And there is one scene where Sam Jackson character preparing for a jump, spritzes a room with some mysterious substance in an aerosol can. The way that he spray, only he could pull it off and makes you think, man, that's some badassed spraying.

Verdict : The idea was good, but the execution was forgettable. I kept imagining if the story had a better treatment or maybe a little touch from, let's say, The Wachowski Brothers, maybe it could be a cutting-edge cult film in the veins of The Matrix. See it only for the cool effects and if you have extra money and time. Otherwise, teleport..



CJ7
Synopsis : Stephen Chow plays Ti, a poor laborer and widower taking care of his only child, Dicky (Xu Jaio). When his son threw a tantrum over a new toy that every other kids seems to be having, Ti scour the dumpsite and found himself a green orb. When he handed the special orb to his son, it turned itself into some kind of alien pet with some special power.

A Chow Sing Chi movie is an event for me. His movies reminded me of my childhood, my brothers, my friends and my hometown. I remember those days when I used to sneak into cinemas with my friends, the only Malays in a packed theater full of Chinese, laughing at every Chow Sing Chi jokes with a 5 seconds delay than everybody else in the cinema (because we were reading subtitles). I remember those days when my friends and I used to have the Chow Sing Chi movie marathon at my house. I'm proud to say that I own every single DVD of his movies, even those very early supporting-roles-type movies. Obviously, I'm a huge fan of Chow Sing Chi. So, needless to say, I had high hopes for CJ7. But I don't know if my expectations was too high, or maybe Chow Sing Chi has 'developed' as a director and actor, CJ7 falls a bit short for me.

I had this uneasy feeling before, with 'King Of Comedy', which I also think falls a little bit short of my expectation. Both his previous directing duties before that, 'God of Cookery' and 'Forbidden City Cop' were classic Chow Sing Chi (read: nonsensical humor) so when 'King of Comedy' came out, we (read: Chow's old skool fan) all thought; "..hmm, maybe it's a dark comedy". After that of course, we saw 'Shaolin Soccer' and 'Kungfu Hustle' and suddenly, super fans like me, understands that our favourite funny guy is not all jokes. He's becoming a world-class director, crafting his own style of humor. But despite the style over substance, we could still see hints of the 'mo-lei-tau', verbal comedy of him that we always adored.

But in CJ7 however, the no holds-barred verbal comedy I have come to love about Chow is now very much gone. Special effects aside, the responsibility to carry the movie seems to rest purely on the small shoulders of the young girl actress (Xu Jiao, who plays Chow's son) and the alien elements of the movie. She does an amazing job by giving us some classic Chow moments (especially in the dream sequence) but sadly, her talent just about makes the highlight of the film. The trademarks are there (..fat guy as a girl, toilet jokes, kung-fu) but sometimes seems out of place.

The story appears to be mischievously upending the narrative of 'E.T.' and other similar boy-and-his-pet children's films. Seeing Chow as the disciplinarian father is very interesting. However, the story is too short for any real message other than the morality lectures. The tear-jerking moments are forced awkwardly by orchestrating two third-act near-death sequences that frenetically push emotional buttons for a quick response. But the transition from a light comedy to tear-jerking melodrama weren't that smooth and organic.

Best Bit : The cockroaches swatting scene. The very odd (and funny) way of playing games with your son.


Verdict : Viewers who knew Chow Sing Chi (or Stephen Chow for that matter) only for 'Kungfu Hustle' and 'Shaolin Soccer' may like it. But for the rest of us, we wish that Ng Man Tat would come back! Not his best; CJ7 does has it's moments, but only watchable.



Dunia Baru : The Movie
Synopsis : Anizah is about to leave for UK to study but is kidnapped by her psychotic ex-boyfriend Fazley. He forces her to write a note saying she wants to leave all her hopes and dreams to marry him in Thailand but in that note she also secretly leaves a message for her friends to try and save her. As they travel north they encounter so many challenges and funny incidences to the point that they want to give up, turn back to KL and forsake their friend. Will they give up on Anizah and leave her helpless?

If I could describe the movie in just one word it would be - fun! I've been an avid follower of the Dunia Baru TV episodes since episode one and as a huge fan I certainly had a wonderful time watching it on the big screen. Fadz said it first, but I'll say it again, Dunia Baru is Malaysia's first tv-series with a cult status!

Dunia Baru has many followers. The followers - people who are tired of the stereotype local tv-series involving teenagers, are very loyal indeed. We discuss the characters (not the actors) as if they were real and we embrace them as if they were are own friends. All of this simply because the characters are believable. We understand their actions and words even when sometimes they were wrong. To better understand what I'm saying, go read what Vovin wrote here.

As a self-confessed follower of this little cult, I had no problem with the introduction (or lack thereof) of the characters. The director, Yeop Hitler Zami waste no time in proceeding with the main story - gather our gang, go on the road, save Aniza. But I kept thinking, how did a non-follower, someone who never watches an episode of the series, react to this? Go read Ajami's response to know the answer.

As usual the chemistry between the actors are dynamite, mainly because they are comfortable with their characters after playing them for so many years. The script certainly binds them together very well as we could see them exchanging words and banter very smoothly. Although with it's flaws, I thought that the script was well-written. Kudos to Wan Hasliza. I do wish there were more screen time for Sariah and Madihah (Anne Ngasri was born to play her!), because I think that their characters are important (and funny) as any other character. Maybe in Part 2? Hmm..

I don't want to spoil the fun but Dunia Baru: The Movie does have it flaws. The audio was below par, and the editing was very choppy. Maybe Yeop sometimes forget that he is making a feature film instead of a TV series. There are scenes which could work very well in TV land but certainly not on the big screen. There were also some problems with continuity (the cradle chair in the gas station suddenly vanishes, etc.) that were a little bit distracting but forgivable. Maybe given some time, Yeop should perfected his skills as a successful young Malay film-maker.

Best Bit : The Bangla. He steals every scenes. And the opening credit, that reminded me of Heroes.

Verdict : Good storytelling, great cast and witty dialogue, Dunia Baru : The Movie is a breath of fresh air in Malaysia's modern cinema. Go watch it for pure fun and entertainment.



Cuci
Synopsis : Four adopted brothers - Jojo (Awie), Fairil (Afdlin Shauki), C'tan (AC Mizal) and Khai (Hans Isaac) - leave their kampung and head to Kuala Lumpur to make it big in the cleaning business. Fairil, the most ambitious of the four, inspires them to enter the Window Washing Olympics for the most coveted contract of all - cleaning the windows of KLCC. But the brothers would have to survive the allure of organiser CJ (Erra Fazira) as well as stiff competition from current champion and contract holder Wira (Khir Rahman) to win the title.

All hail our very own Frat Pack (Fat Pack?) - the team of Awie, AC, Afdlin and Hans has done it again, creating yet another comedy with a Malaysian flavor with articulate storytelling and wonderful chemistry between the actors, this time with Hans in the director's chair. What I always love about their movies is the strength of their story, always representing life as an ordinary Malaysian, staying true to character with their own style of dry humour. The comedy was appropriate and never seems to overshadow the story that they are trying to tell.

The beginning of the story, a flashback to the boys younger days, I thought was brilliantly done. The 4 main characters traits and manners was properly introduced to the viewers so that we could understand and be comfortable with later, with their actions as an adult. The backbone of the story follows a less than traveled path, but fluidly allows both humour and drama to co-exist. The indisputable choice of cast are coherent enough for the brothers to look like they've actually lived their lives together.

Comedy aside, the movie also probes into common Malaysian issues but is careful to never cross political boundaries. The 'Malaysian mentality' that Fairel always talked about, the Chinese speaking Indian man, the Window Washing Olympics with a bunch of Bangladeshi workers, the kampung boys with big dreams - all of this are Malaysian issues that us Malaysian can relate to. It is safe to say that patriotism runs deep within this film.

The supporting cast and the various cameos also strengthens the story as it progress. I thought the character of CJ, played by Erra was very good in portraying a very typical strong independent Malaysian women, successful in their career but hopeless with household work (..as we witness with the scene at Farah's house). I also like the not-so-typical antagonist role of Wira (played flawlessly by Khir Rahman), who is a very successful businessman with bad intentions. His not your typical Malay movie bad guy, (dark clothes, always laugh uncontrollably, ugly, usually with scars or facial hair, etc) he is merely a business-minded, optimistic prick.

Best Bit : Ida Nerina's cameo. Very funny.

Verdict : A good debut by Hans Isaac. Wonderful storytelling and narrative with a solid cast and great comedy with Malaysian flavour. It's a winner.

14 comments:

  1. Nazim Masnawi said...
     

    "Why do the young Jumpers have the ability to teleport around the world in an instant? Why has there been a centuries-long war between the Jumpers and Paladins, who maintain a private army of executioners with apparently unlimited resources? How is it possible that our hero, David Rice 'jumped' as a child, then completely forgot about it for more than a decade? How has David gotten through years of blissful jumping with no notion that the Paladins (or, for that matter, other jumpers) even exist? Why do jumpers themselves exist? How many are there, and how long have they been around? What's the deal with her mom? What The Fuck?"

    Aku rasa kau boleh connect semua persoalan ni on your own, man. Especially regarding her mother. Aku rasa aku suka filem ni kerana keringkasannya yang konsisten (dia tak cuba nak ambik port satu fakta ni heavily dan let go the other. Check out masa Griffin on the verge nak bagi tau David pasal keluarga dia. Baru dia story sikit, mamat tu dah *bmpfh!* bawak larik bom dia ke Colosseum). Weirdly enough, dah tiga kali aku layan Jumper, and I guess it still counting.

  2. ajami said...
     

    "..me and my wife held our own movie marathon last weekend."

    ahhh! sooo sweeetttt!!!

    [sambung baca review kau]

  3. ajami said...
     

    "..the cradle chair in the gas station suddenly vanishes"

    >> tuuu diaaa mata kau mmg sharp giler! cayalah beb!

    btw, aku X tgk jumper/cj7 lagik, so aku skip review ko yg tuh..

    per2 hal welcome back bro! ;-)

  4. Edd Vedder said...
     

    nazim..
    keringkasannya yang konsisten itu yang buat aku lemas. Aku rasa macam penulisnya sengaja mencipta all this rules about the Jumpers, Paladins etc. as the story progress. Dan tiba-tiba bila dah sampai ending, ada banyak benda yang dia belum explain.

    Cuba ko fikir, ttg ibunya, kalau watak Diane Lane tu tak diwujudkan, apa kesan yang ada pada ceritanya? Aku rasa takda kesan.. And one more, kalau si Roland tu dah bertahun-tahun buru si David.. Tak pernah sekali pun dia tahu yang ibunya seorang Paladin? Sekali pun dia tak pernah ke rumah David dan tengok gambar keluarganya..? Really? I mean c'mon.. !

    Aku tak menafikan konsep cerita ni menarik, plus effectnya juga nampak cantik. But at least the story sepatutnya lebih solid dalam menjelaskan the whole Jumper-Paladin war, the purpose and the reason.. Walaupun tak semua. Biar penonton berfikir itu OK, tapi bukannya biar penonton tak faham penceritaan kau..

    Maybe u got it, good for u. But I just don't get it dude..

  5. Edd Vedder said...
     

    ajami..
    yes, I'm a sweet guy. hehe..

    mungkin aku silap tentang the cradle chair. Alasan untuk tengok sekali lagi kot.. hehe.

  6. Nazim Masnawi said...
     

    "Cuba ko fikir, ttg ibunya, kalau watak Diane Lane tu tak diwujudkan, apa kesan yang ada pada ceritanya?"

    Aku rasa kewujudannya ADA membawak kesan. Kita boleh tgk betapa hipokrit dan assholesnya these paladins (yang kita boleh bandingkan dengan some religion nuts today). Diorg dgn jelas ada masalah with these jumpers, but once ahli keluarga diorg adalah jumper, diorg throw diorg punya prinsip all the way out the window. Dan instead of selesaikannya dgn cara terbaik, diorang run away. In this case, mak David. Lebih asshole, diorang still akan buru jugak anak-anak diorang. Remember? "I give you a head start, son." So Paladins ni mmg bastards la no matter how MILF-y their looks are.

    "And one more, kalau si Roland tu dah bertahun-tahun buru si David.. Tak pernah sekali pun dia tahu yang ibunya seorang Paladin? Sekali pun dia tak pernah ke rumah David dan tengok gambar keluarganya..? Really? I mean c'mon.. !"

    Aku tak rasa Roland buru David aggressively. It's just another case of jumper for him. He discovered about the first bank-robbing years ago, and maybe he goes on to siasat kes lain in between. Dan aku rasa dia cuma discover identiti David betul2 sebelum dia jumpa dengan mamat tu. And so, of courselah dia TAK pernah ke rumah David dan TENGOK gambar keluarganya.

    "Maybe u got it, good for u. But I just don't get it dude.."

    Probably, I liked the way the bigger picture was just teased. Mcm old western la, the heroes tak pernah ada kaitan dgn the biggest villain or something. Tapi somehow kehadiran diorg sedikit sebanyak memberi kesan KEPADA kepala orang jahat tersebut.

  7. Edd Vedder said...
     

    "..no matter how MILF-y their looks are."

    - now, that part, I agree.

    Maybe u got a point or two there. But overall, I still think they could've done better with the script. At least give it some dramatic development or entertaining dialogues. I actually have tons more questions but I decided, fuck cares?!

    But enough about the script, don't tell me u disagree with me about the acting as well?

    And oh yeah, I really hate it when a movie has a voice over, explaining the viewers what they are already seeing.. "I gave her a present.. I fell into thin ice.. I went home.. I teleported.. bla,bla, bla.". Shudafakap!! I can see what's happening. Your voice is a distraction.

  8. Nazim Masnawi said...
     

    "But enough about the script, don't tell me u disagree with me about the acting as well?"

    I dunno, tapi kekerasan Hayden bagi aku brings depth to the character. After all, lama David hidup sendiri. Dia tak pernah dekat dengan sesapa dan selalu rahsiakan siapa diri dia yang sebenar, so aku rasa kau boleh rasionalkan lakonan dia. But then again, "dlm lakonan, kau tak sepatutnya rasionalkan apa-apa," bak kata Gene Hackman.

    Tapi gua setuju, the voice-over is unnecessary. Kalau it gets back into the pic towards the end, mungkin aku boleh negotiate. Masalahnya, all of sudden, it's just fucking disappear!

    And oh, the Marvel Team-Up dialogue is interesting.

  9. Edd Vedder said...
     

    "..kekerasan Hayden bagi aku brings depth to the character."

    - really?? Well, I agree with Hackman. :)

    And oh, the Marvel Team-Up dialogue is interesting.

    -so interesting that you have to mentioned it twice in a span of 15 minutes? Short of ideas? my point exactly.

  10. Nazim Masnawi said...
     

    "really??"

    Yeah, really. I mean, we cannot have some Shia LaBeouf or Ryan Gosling for the role. We have to feel the distance (us and David).

    "so interesting that you have to mentioned it twice in a span of 15 minutes? Short of ideas?"

    Well, they've been said in different kind of context.

  11. fadz said...
     

    problem dengan jumper ialah, impak dunia yang ingin dilakarkan besar tapi end up membawa isu2 moral yang tertutup pada beberapa individu. Konsolasi antara Jamie Bell dan Heyden adalah "wat de?" kepada masalah mainan moral ni. Soalan besar: Kalau Jamie dah gatal nak tolong dan ekori Heyden separuh dunia, afasal dia tak nak tolong Heyden? Kenapa dia TAK BUNUH Heyden, dat would be a better 'twist' would it? Kenapa karekter dia terlalu obi wan yg reluctant? Ini adalah masalah 'kaitan' Heyden-Jamie yg perlu diulang kaji.

    The best part of jumper ialah watak heyden yang buat segalanya dlm satu hari (main ngan betina, main surf, keluar duit, lepak atas bangunan2 cantik).

    fuck, aku tak tgk cuci babi! dat good ah?

  12. Edd Vedder said...
     

    fadz..
    itu antara perkara yang membawa question mark yang besar dalam kepala aku. Pendek kata, filem ini produce to many question marks, up to the point where I don't care anymore..

    cuci? not THAAAAT good. But good, nonetheless.

  13. Nazim Masnawi said...
     

    "Kalau Jamie dah gatal nak tolong dan ekori Heyden separuh dunia, afasal dia tak nak tolong Heyden?"

    Dia follow Hayden to get his hands on the Paladins. He doesn't care for the young Anakin, dia cuma peduli apa kecuaiannya boleh bagi.

    Dan Cuci, ain't good at all. Some people mmg tak paham erti "karakter." Serius, a lil' acrophobia boleh jadikan satu-satu watak tu three dimensional ke? Bullshit!

  14. Zack said...
     

    Time. I need time.

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