Saturday, August 14, 2010

Repo Men

After a short glance at the synopsis of this movie, I decided to give it a shot. The plot seemed rather absurd, but having had rather good judgement of movies in the past, I was quite certain that this movie couldn't be all that bad. After all, the lead actors, Forest Whitaker and Jude Law have never failed to impress me in the past, so how bad could it be? I was however, sadly mistaken. The level of discomfort I felt while watching the movie was so immense that I actually thought of walking out of the cinema just 20 minutes into the movie.

Repo Men is set in the near future where organs are easily available to the public. This ideal situation however, comes at a large price as the as The Union (the sole company which engages in this business) encourages their desperately ill clients to take on exorbitant monthly installment plans, as the cost of an organ is extremely high. If clients fail to meet their monthly payments (as is usually the case), repo men will break into their houses, render them unconscious with a stun gun, cut them open and repossess their organ(s), leaving them for probable death. Repo men are of course under obligation to ask them if they need the assistance of an ambulance after they cut them open to repossess the organ(s). Isn't that considerate of them!

Jude Law and Forest Whitaker play the lead characters, Remy and Jake. They are The Union's outstanding repo men and they work very well together repossessing organs in the most efficient manner. Remy and Jake answer to Frank (Liev Schriber) who is always satisfied with their job performance. The story takes a turn, however when Remy encounters marital problems as his wife finds his job no longer acceptable and wants him to switch to sales instead. Remy finally agrees to make the switch to save his marriage, much to Jake's detriment. Remy is persuaded into doing one last job before making the switch. Things go awry when Remy gets severely injured and ends up having an artificial heart. Remy's wife leaves him with their son and Remy continues to lead a meaningless existence working in sales (which he apparently sucks at).

Being in the same shoes as The Union's many unfortunate clients, Remy is forced to become a fugitive once his lease is up, finding protection in abandoned parts of the city. Remy meets a girl named Beth (Alice Braga) whom he says complements him as he has an artificial heart and she has an artificial...well, everything else, ranging from eyes, ears, knees, stomach, kidneys to God knows what else! They pair up eventually and decide to break into The Union to erase all their records and release themselves from their burdens. All doesn't go as planned and things end badly for Remy and Beth at the end of the movie.

I am not usually judgemental when it comes to movies, but I must say with plenty of conviction that this is by far one of the worst movies I have watched. It is pure indulgent nonsense as Simon Cowell (former judge of American Idol) would put it. I never would have guessed that the movie would be so poorly executed. The multiple violent, bloody and gory scenes were totally unjustified. It could have been a better movie if the focus had been on characters and emotions, rather than just mere slashing, shooting and cutting. The amount of blood, violence and gore was just mind-numbing. The movie should be a lesson in how movies should never be made. I came out of the theater with feelings of unease, disdain and disgust. Never have I found a movie so morally disturbing. The whole concept of repossessing organs itself seems highly and legally improbable. Furthermore, the movie portrays characters who seem to be devoid of human decency as they actually gather to chat and laugh about how their clients cry and beg for their lives. The movie is neither here nor there in its direction. It seems to be rather confused about where it wants to go. If it was meant to be a serious social commentary on healthcare, it has certainly missed the mark. As a pure action sci-fi thriller, I can surely say that it was not even remotely entertaining. Even the rather strong performances by Jude Law and Forest Whitaker were not enough to redeem this mess. On a final note, save your money for better things in life and don't even bother getting the DVD. Repo Men is one movie you can definitely live without watching. Believe me, you won't miss a thing!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dessert at The Apartment

After having written multiple reviews on movies for this blog, I decided that I should write about something else for a change. As you can tell, I am obviously an avid fan of movies and television series. But for those of you who know me, you would know that I also have a penchant for expensive and rich food, especially desserts (who doesn't!)

As we had some extra time before our usual movie weekend escapade, my movie partner and I decided to stop by this place called The Apartment for dessert. The Apartment is a rather unusual restaurant which derives its concept from an actual apartment. The restaurant is divided into different sections of an apartment where you have a kitchen, living room, bathroom, etc. We were very pleased to be seated in the bedroom section where we could actually lie down on a soft mattress and pillows. It was really relaxing and refreshing.

Feeling awfully greedy that day, we decided to order two desserts! I must say that there were no regrets as both of them were simply spectacular.

First to arrive was a dessert called Eton Mess. This dessert, which is aptly named may not be very pleasing to the eye, but it was certainly tantalizing to the taste buds. Imagine layers of soft fluffy cream upon layers of meringue, drizzled with strawberry sauce and chopped strawberries melting in your mouth. It was positively sinful, but simply delectable! We gobbled the whole thing up in a matter of minutes! Extremely satisfying to the last bite and left me asking for more.

Our second dessert was the Chocolate Pudding. Do not be deceived by the simplicity of the name of this dessert, for its taste far exceeds any expectations you may have. The chocolate pudding was warm, soft, aromatic, full of chocolatey goodness and just simply delightful. This awesome pudding was accompanied by a scoop of homemade vanilla ice-cream which went extremely well with the pudding. A must-have for all chocolate lovers. You will not be disappointed.
Although these desserts were a little above our station, (amounting to RM40 for the both of us) it was worth every ringgit and it is nice to indulge in something sinful once in a while, isn't it? This will definitely not be my last visit to The Apartment for dessert!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

I have been an avid follower of Disney movies and cartoons ever since I could remember. From classics like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella to musical features such as High School Musical and Enchanted, Disney has never failed to entertain me with its adventures and magic.

The story of The Sorcerer's Apprentice is a re-telling inspired by the short cartoon tale, featuring Mickey Mouse which appeared in Disney's classical music celebration, Fantasia in 1940 and again in 1999.

The plot begins with the tale of Merlin and his three apprentices, Balthazar Blake (Nicholas Cage), Veronica (Monica Belucci) and Maxim Horvath (Afred Molina). Merlin is killed at the beginning of the movie while trying to protect his spell, "The Rising" from falling into the hands of the evil Morgana le Fay (Alice Krige). Apparently, this spell could lead to the enslavement of all mankind by the dead. (Which leads me to the question, why would Merlin even have such a spell to begin with? I wonder...) Anyway, before Morgana could get away with the spell, two of Merlin's apprentices arrive just in time to stop her. As it is narrated in the beginning, Merlin should have trusted only two of his apprentices as he was betrayed by Horvath, the third apprentice who chooses to help Morgana to acquire the spell. While trying to stop Morgana from killing Balthazar, Veronica draws Morgana's soul into her own body, but before Morgana could kill Veronica from the inside, Belthazar traps both their souls inside an inescapable magic vessel known as the Grimhold. Before he dies, Merlin entrusts Belthazar with his ring and makes him promise to seek for a boy who will be known as "The Prime Merlinian". This boy will inherit Merlin's powers and with it be able to destroy Morgana once and for all.

Thousands of years pass by, and Balthazar keeps his promise to look for the boy all the while trapping the souls of Morgana's evil followers, including Horvath in the Grimhold. As fate would have it, "The Prime Merlinian" finds his way into Balthazar's antique store. "The Prime Merlinian", also known as Dave Sutler is portrayed by Jake Cherry (whose acting skills have not improved since his performance in Night of The Museum 2). Through a series of coincidences, Dave walks into Balthazar's store looking for a piece of paper. It is there that Balthazar discovers that Dave is the one he is looking for. After specifically instructing Dave not to touch anything while he goes to search for something, Balthazar returns to discover that Harvath has been released from the vessel. After a battle, Balthazar and Horvath are trapped in an urn for the next 10 years while Dave, having witnessed the bizarre battle and its outcome, is forced to undergo theraphy after having what is deemed as a mental breakdown.

The years roll by and Dave (now portrayed by Jay Baruchel) has now grown into an awkward 20-year old college student just trying to live his life after the traumatic events in his childhood. He bumps into his former love interest, Becky (Teressa Palmer) and tries his best to impress her and she seems to have rather positive responses towards his advances. Meanwhile, Balthazar and Horvath are released from the urn and Balthazar proceeds with his quest to find Dave and fulfil his mission to kill Morgana. After finally deciding that he wants to be Belthazar's apprentice, Dave goes through a series of training sessions where he learns how to use his powers. His relationship with Becky however, is put on hold as Dave continues to hide his secret from her. The story carries on, leading to the ultimate event of "The Rising" where Morgana and Veronica are finally released. There are no surprises as to how the story ends. As in all Disney features, everybody (well, with the exception of the villains) lives happily ever after. The guy gets the girl, old lovers reunite, good is restored and evil is vanquished.

A rather entertaining flick, with a good number of laughs and delightful moments in numerous scenes. Look out for the scene where Dave tries to use his powers to tidy up the house. Besides being a direct reference to the Disney classic it was based on, it also reminds me of a scene in Sleeping Beauty when Merryweather uses magic to tidy up the house. Also keep an ear out for Molina's lines which are witty and amusing in several scenes. Monica Belucci was gorgeous as the kind-hearted and sweet Veronica who would sacrifice herself for the man she loves. As for the other performances, they were mediocre at best. Jay Baruchel is convincing enough as the awkward nerd who is just well, plain awkward in every way and Cage's performance was...well, lets just say that he was there. The CGI effects were awesome enough for a Disney feature such as this. An enjoyable and a fun movie for audiences of all ages.