Movie Review: Cars 3

“Cars 3” is a typical Disney family movie with good vs. evil/bad/bully and a happy ending for everyone. The difference this movie had was the happy ending came with an unexpected twist. Do you still remember the movie “Cars” back in 2006? I watched it on Netflix 10 years after the first installment was out, and I was still very much entertained. Until now I can’t say that I’m familiar with the movie characters and story lines. All I know that whenever my kids get invited to birthday parties, they often come home with the face of Lightning McQueen, the Rust-eze race car number 95, on their goodie bags.

In 2017, Lightning McQueen was not as fast, as heroic, as amazing as he was. The movie opened with McQueen meditating before a race, joking around with his fellow veteran racers, and getting ready to take on the 500 laps. He was leading until right before the finish line a rookie racer, a new car dubbed Jackson Storm, went faster than McQueen did and won the race. McQueen was taken aback by the fact that a rookie beat him and he didn’t see it coming. Storm, being arrogant and such, bragged to the reporters about looking up to McQueen as his childhood hero and he suggested McQueen to just retire, because the race track now belonged to the newer and more modern cars.

Storm’s statement got me thinking: how old was Lightning McQueen actually? In one scene, it was stated that he was a childhood hero of a car-kid. In another scene, the soon-to-be his trainer, Cruz Ramirez, said that she had seen him racing on TV since her grandfather’s days. Was McQueen that old? Well, I guessed car age was supposed to be different than human age. After the shocking result of the race, McQueen went back to his hometown and tried to think through about the meaning of being old and needing to retire. His friend, Sally, encouraged him to go back to Rust-eze, which he did, only to find that Rust-eze was already sold to Sterling. Sterling as the new owner wanted McQueen to train like the rookies, with simulators and a dedicated trainer. There came the role of Cruz Ramirez, a female (although the name suggested it’s a male) racing car trainer who was responsible to increase McQueen’s speed to match Storm’s.

It’s interesting to see how McQueen training under Cruz, and to see Cruz exercising her claimed competences as a trainer. First of all, she’s not a racer herself, and that made her, I think, lacking the credibility to teach other cars to race. She might be good in theories, but I could tell that she lacked the intuitions and she couldn’t embrace the unknown factors in racing. That was shown when she accompanied McQueen practicing racing on the beach. Seeing her reminded me of the teachers I had back in school, who were never involved in any kind of industry but were supposed to teach us about industry and its complexities. McQueen and Cruz started to get to know each other and she admitted to him that she wanted to be a race car. She participated in a race once and right there she knew that she couldn’t do it. She asked McQueen how he knew that he was meant to be a race car. McQueen’s answer was a total gem: “I never thought that I couldn’t.” And that, people, was one of the best motivational quotes I’d ever heard coming from a cartoon character.

McQueen underwent several peculiar ways to gain back his confidence, including taking part in some village’s phenomenal race in the mud, and finding Smokey who was once a mentor to Doc, McQueen’s mentor. I particularly liked how Smokey and the other veteran cars encouraged McQueen to get his head back in the game by providing him with the basic training, i.e. driving in the middle of the woods without any headlamps on (they only relied on the moonbeam to show them the way), and driving through a herd of car-cows (I must say that it’s hilarious to see cars in the shape of cows. My kids and I rolled out with laughter all through this scene). During McQueen’s training with Smokey, Cruz was appointed to be his training partner and in doing so I believed she found again her long-forgotten passion for racing. Cruz unintentionally got a firsthand training on how to become a racer; a trainer who got trained by a real racer to be a real racer and not merely a teacher. That’s interesting.

The day of the racing arrived; McQueen, Cruz, and the rest went to Florida to participate in the racing which would determine what McQueen would be doing next. Would he lose and be forced into retirement, and have to spend the rest of his car life selling car-related cleaning products? Or would he win and be given other opportunities by Sterling as his new sponsor? Even right before the race started, McQueen hadn’t gotten back his confidence. He didn’t race wholeheartedly, was very much influenced by what Storm had been saying to him during the race to mess up with his head. The funny thing was, he suddenly decided that it was his time to step back and let someone who’s actually been prepared for the race to take his place. On the pit stop McQueen told his team to prepare Cruz to race for him. They quickly painted the number “95” on her, ignoring the protests and discouragement from Sterling, her boss, who kept saying that she’s supposed to be a trainer and not a racer. Second moral lesson here; don’t let anyone put you and your dreams down. We can do much more things than we can think of as long as we have the confidence.

So, to the end of the movie Cruz was racing in McQueen’s place. Before the finish line, she went body to body with Storm. She tried hard to ignore Storm’s mocking her as just a girl in the custom (kind of reminded me of the “Wonder Woman” movie), drifted with him, flipped over him, and won the race. McQueen and Cruz won the trophy and he confirmed himself as her trainer from now on, just like the late Doc did for him. Third moral of the story, know yourself and know when to let it go. I had expected the movie to end with McQueen winning the race and claiming back his long profound glory, but the twist went unexpectedly with Cruz shining as a rookie racer and McQueen volunteering to train her.

The plot holes were only when Rust-eze was suddenly sold to Sterling, and when it suddenly dawned on McQueen that he had unintentionally trained Cruz to be a racing car and not the other way around. I had suspected that Sterling also sponsored Storm and he just wanted money from both racers. I guessed I forgot that “Cars 3” was a children movie after all, and an ulterior motive would be hard to understand by children. And I didn’t expect McQueen’s realization would come so suddenly in the middle of the race when he was supposed to focus more on winning. Oh well, just like I said, the happy ending came with an unexpected twist. It was an okay movie for me, a wonderful movie for the kids. After accompanying the kids watching “Cars 3” and accompanying my husband watching a horror movie “Annabelle: Creation” yesterday, I’m determined to go back to my original taste of movie.

“Battleship Island” starring Song Joong Ki, I’m coming for you tomorrow!

Date Afternoon

My husband took a day off from work today after two consecutive weeks of traveling abroad. Our eldest left for school at 7 AM and finished at 3 PM. Our youngest left for school much later, at 11.15 AM and came home at the same time as his sister. I was supposed to go to Bogor to run some errands this morning, but (as usual) I slept very late last night, causing me to miss my taekwondo class and lose all interest to drive for hours (approximately 2.5 hours one way) to get there. Why would I leave the house if my husband, whom I hadn’t met in two weeks and whom I hadn’t dated properly in about eight years since our eldest was born, was staying at home all day? I’d rather do something more worthwhile for me and for the rest of the family, than sit in my car and get stuck in the traffic jam.

So in the morning I raided our wardrobe, got all of our clothes on the bed, and kind of forced my husband to choose which clothes to keep and which clothes to donate. It took us some good 1.5 hours to go through each shirt, short, etc. etc. and we ended up with three laundry bags. After the closet cleaning and downsizing, we hurriedly left for the theater. The movie options were either “Atomic Blonde” starring Charlize Theron or “Annabelle: Creation” starring unpopular actors.

For your information, he is an avid fan of horror movies. I mean, a really devoted fan up to the point he’s not easily scared anymore. Every time he’s watching this genre, he could pretty much predict the plots, started to guess the action sequences and the main ghosts, and eventually googled the “behind the scenes” acts. How odd. The last time he watched a horror was last year (The Conjuring 2), when I had stubbornly refused to go with him because I saw no point of paying somebody to scare me off. He ended up going with a colleague and, to my surprise, they had a wonderful time. The colleague moved to another city and my husband lost a companion to watch horror movie. Until today. I didn’t know how he talked me into it, perhaps by reminding me how terrible Charlize Theron was in Fast & Furious 8 because he just saw that movie last weekend during his flight home and he read the movie review I wrote. We were very disappointed with Charlize Theron that we became skeptical if her newest movie was any good. Long before it came out, I read somewhere that “Atomic Blonde” was supposed to be the female version of “John Wick”. Huh. Nothing compares to Keanu Reeves, and I pretty much doubted Ms. Theron could surpass the golden standard Mr. Reeves had created for this genre. To make it short, I decided to give the horror movie a go.

The last time I watched a horror movie was in 2006, also with my husband (then my boyfriend). It was “The Grudge 2” and I couldn’t sleep for days after we went to see it. For our date this afternoon, I brought along the kids’ blanket from our car just in case it got too cold inside the theater. Nah. The truth was, I brought it because I was already scared to death even before the movie started. We bought popcorn to distract my mind from being too tensed. It didn’t work. I couldn’t eat anything; I was afraid that I would choke while I was eating because the ghost made me scream every now and then. My head throbbed, I had neck and shoulders pain because I was terrified by the movie. Do you want to know what it was about?

It was about the daughter of Samuel Mullins, a wooden doll maker, who died young at the age of 7 due to a car accident. The beginning of the movie portrayed how well Samuel did his job, how happy he was playing with Annabelle and his wife, and how devoted Christians they were. One Sunday on their way home from church, their car broke down. Mrs. Mullins, on her attempt to stop a passing car to help them, didn’t realize that Annabelle was running to the middle of the street to chase a bolt gliding from her father’s car. The scene was closed with a loud thud and it moved forward to 12 years later. Annabelle’s graveyard with a cross with her name written on it was the first scene before a car filled with a priest, a nun, and six orphaned girls was shown traveling to the home of the Mullins. The youngest of the group were Janice, whose legs were limping due to polio, and Linda. The other four girls seemed bigger and much older than these two. The nun and the girls were welcomed to stay at the Mullins with restriction; they could never go to that one room on the second floor. “It is locked and it will stay that way,” said Samuel Mullins. Mrs. Mullins was unable to walk, spent her days in her bedroom, and she rang the bell every time she needed assistance from her husband.

That was just the preface. The problem started when Janice broke the rule and went into the room of the late Annabelle. There she freed the scary, kid-human sized doll in a white dress which was previously locked inside the closet with pages from the Bible plastered all over the door. The dead Annabelle then started to scare Janice off in order to acquire her soul, and one night the evil spirit threw her from the second to the first floor, causing Janice to be unable to walk permanently. She had been trying to tell Sister Charlotte, the nun, that an evil spirit was present inside the house, but the Sister didn’t believe her. Nobody did (like typical horror movie). The evil finally took Janice’s soul away, and started its hunting spree on the other girls. The focus of the story then shifted to Linda and how brave she was to defend herself. She even took the scary doll to the field, threw it into an old, abandoned well, in a vain hope that it would stop disturbing everyone inside the Mullins house. The doll, of course, escaped the well, managed to kill the Mullins couple, harmed Sister Charlotte, and almost killed one of the remaining four girls (Nancy). How did the story end? Did the doll kill everyone? Did it escape the exorcism performed by Sister Charlotte? You’d better see it by yourself, because writing about the plots right now just gave me the goose bumps once again.

I meant it when I said that it’s ridiculous to pay somebody to scare me off. I think paying to watch a horror movie is one of the worst ways to spend money. Unlike romance or crime genres, horror genre is something I can’t grasp and enjoy for any reason at all. Lucky us, there were only fifteen people inside the theater; otherwise I would have been kicked out from it because I screamed too often. The movie was heart-pounding, nerve-wrecking, and making me want to puke. I really thought the worst actors to play the roles of criminals and ghosts are children. They’re supposed to be innocent but the characters they’re playing were displaying extreme evil that I couldn’t stand it. It felt pretty much the same with when I watched “Logan” and saw mutant kids killing the soldiers hunting them. It’s not right; it’s not supposed to be like that.

For those who are into horror movies, I can only relay to you the opinion of my husband. He said that the movie was not as exciting as “The Conjuring 2”, which was actually meant to be the sequel of “Annabelle: Creation”. The last scenes of “Annabelle” did reveal the opening to “The Conjuring 2”. He also said that the movie was kind of predictable, in terms of the number of ghosts and from where they appeared. Believe me, when he made this review he put on a poker face while I quietly trembled because I could still see the scenes replaying in my head. My husband joked that my cycle to watch a horror movie is probably every 11 years (2006, 2017, and perhaps 2028), just like the 12-year cycle in “Annabelle”. To that joke I feverishly shook my head and replied, “Sorry, but I’m so done with horror movie.” I really love him, but he will need to find another companion to watch this genre.

Movie Review: War for The Planet of The Apes

The only reason I went to see this movie was because Dunkirk was showing much later last Saturday night. Many times I don’t really think about a movie’s rating and reviews before watching it in the theater. Be it romantic comedy, superheroes, or thriller suspense movies, as long as I’m drawn to the actors I would very much go, see, and judge for myself. I had expected War for The Planet of The Apes (WFTPOTA) to be a laid back movie, packed with superb and breath-taking actions only. Boy, how could I be so wrong? Fifteen minutes into the movie and I thought, oh crap, it’s mostly a silent film, something I always find distasteful because I like listening to people’s voice and how their emotions are conveyed through it. And more to that, WFTPOTA made me think and contemplate when I just wanted to relax and chew my popcorn.

Caesar, the leader of the apes in this movie, could speak English and so could some of his apes companions/enemies, while the other apes used sign language to communicate with each other and with Caesar. Two subtitles (apes language to English and English to Bahasa Indonesia) were present around seventy percents of the movie. The sentences presented were simple, leaving me to wonder whether these proclaimed intelligent apes were actually intelligent. I watched Rise of The Planet of The Apes (2011) simply because James Franco was starring in it. It was a good enough action movie, not forcing me to think much. I didn’t watch the second installment, Dawn of The Planet of The Apes (2014), and it’s a contributing factor why I felt this movie was difficult to understand without seeing the previous installments.

The number of apes was increasing, they became smarter than humans, they’re wiping off the existent human beings by infecting virus which weakened people, and at the end they could take over the earth so a war needed to be set against them. So what? Caesar didn’t seem to lead that many of apes, and they didn’t seem to occupy earth as much as they’re suggested to. Even the scenes in the soldier camp from the middle to the end of the movie showed that the number of apes was less than the number of the soldiers. The conflict began when a bunch of soldiers were in the hunt for Caesar and came face to face with him and his troop. Caesar spared the lives of the surviving soldiers and by that he sent a message to the Colonel that he wanted no war between the apes and the humans. Like typical human beings, the surviving soldier forgot that he was once saved and joined the killing spree for the apes as he, the Colonel, and many more soldiers invaded the place where the apes lived. Caesar’s wife and son were killed by the Colonel, making Caesar vow to take revenge. Winter, his supposedly trusted aide, betrayed the apes and went to the soldiers’ side. There went Caesar with three of his friends to find the Colonel and kill him; after he sent every ape he led to the dessert to find a new home.

On their way, they encountered a mute human girl who became abandoned because Caesar killed her (supposedly) father. The girl joined their adventure and so would an ape they met on their way to the soldier camp. This ape, calling himself “Bad Ape”, ran away from the zoo and apparently could speak English (hooray!). One of Caesar’s companions was killed when they were spying the soldier camp they’re heading to. Caesar was captured and he, along with other apes, was forced to work in the camp without food and water. When Caesar arrived, the apes were upset with him. If only he hadn’t left them, they wouldn’t have been captured by the soldiers. That disappointment was written all over their ape faces. But when Caesar defended an ape that was too weak and was still forced to work, the whole apes turned to support him. Caesar was beaten but he got to get food and water for the apes. The apes, being grateful and all, made him their leader once again. During his direct encounter with the Colonel, Caesar got to understand the reason why the Colonel was having a vengeance against the apes.

The soldier camp, the Colonel, the flag, the morning salutation were unmistakably inspired by a similar atmosphere set in the World War II (1939 – 1945), especially during Nazi infiltration in west European countries to annihilate the Jews. It’s not difficult to see the red lines: the Colonel was Hitler, his soldiers were Nazi soldiers, and the apes with their said growing intelligence were the Jews who were forced to work to the soldiers’ benefit until they’re not useful anymore and needed to be killed. Caesar here became a symbol of hope, of a wishful thinking of how different things might have become if there had been such leader with the Jews. The story was ending with an invasion by soldiers from the north who disagreed with the Colonel’s ambition to annihilate the apes. Those soldiers bore a significant resemblance with the Allies troops, also from the WW II. The difference between the Allies and these soldiers was probably they didn’t seem to care much about the wellbeing of the apes while they dropped bombs and shot guns at the Colonel’s men.

Caesar’s choice to go on his rampage hunting the Colonel (even in his small group) was exactly the same with the Colonel’s choice to go on a rampage hunting the apes. Caesar talked about having mercy regarding the killing of his wife and son, but he forgot that he didn’t have mercy himself when he killed the Colonel’s son. It’s typical humans, and apes, to demand from others something we don’t demand from ourselves, to forget that we once did what we now condemn other people to do. Many aspects of this movie is about taking a look in the mirror about what kind of personalities we claim to have, what we aim to achieve, and what we insist others to have. The story line was simple, the depicted scenery from rain forest to snowy ground to dessert was beautiful, and the ending was poetic enough with Caesar dying because of a wound. The scene changing was smooth and I couldn’t think of any scene cut to make the movie shorter. 

This movie lasted for almost 2.5 hours, and as much as it made me think, it was depressing enough for me.

Review Drama Korea: Bride of The Water God

Nam Joo Hyuk dan Bride of Water God sepertinya jadi kata-kata yang paling sering di-Google dan dicari di Instagram (353 ribu sekian post) akhir-akhir ini oleh para pecinta K-drama. Setelah drama “My Secret Romance” dengan Sung Hoon berakhir, kami (#eaaaa) disuguhi drama baru Nam Joo Hyuk yang berjudul “Bride of Water God”. Dalam kurun waktu 1 tahun terakhir, NJH bermain dalam 3 drama yang sangat populer di Indonesia:

 

  1. Moonlovers Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (2016), sebagai 13th Prince Baek Ah (peran pembantu), saudara laki-laki terdekat dan sekutu dari Wang So/Gwangjong (Lee Joon Gi). Baek Ah adalah seorang musisi yang hatinya sangat perasa dan hancur waktu tunangannya bunuh diri. Walaupun rating drama ini rendah di Korea sana, drama ini sangat populer di Asia Tenggara. Scarlet Heart: Ryeo dijamin bakal bikin baper dan penasaran sama episode-episode selanjutnya. Ending-nya mengecewakan dan sama sedihnya dengan drama versi China-nya. Porsi tampil NJH mungkin cuma 10% dari keseluruhan drama, tapi kebeningannya cukup menangkap mata pemirsa, hehehe.
  2. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo (2016), sebagai Jung Joon Hyung (salah satu pemeran utama yang akhirnya menjadi kekasih Kim Bok Joo, si fokus cerita). JJH adalah seorang perenang yang masih menjadi mahasiswa di sebuah universitas olah raga. Ealah, NJH di sini bener-bener boyfriend material deh (untuk ukuran anak kuliahan di umur awal 20-an ya). Manis, cakep, jahil, baik hati, suka menolong, ingin orang lain di sekitarnya bahagia, dan seterusnya. Drama ini dijamin bisa bikin nostalgia romantika dan drama cinta masa kuliah. Setidaknya untuk saya.
  3. Bride of Water God (2017), sebagai Ha Baek (ini pemeran utama beneran). Drama ini baru 8 episode (yang ada subtitle 7 episode) dari total 16 episode. Sejauh ini, NJH KARISMATIK DAN COOL ABIS (perhatikan huruf capital, bold, dan underline ya. Ini menandakan saya punya dongsaeng idola baru, hihi). Beda banget dengan karakter-karakter dia sebelumnya yang easy going dan ceria, NJH sebagai Ha Baek sangat sangat serius. Kadang saya kira dia sedang sekuat tenaga menahan ketawa karena pipinya sering kedutan sendiri lho (coba perhatikan deh). NJH banyak dikritik di drama ini karena katanya aktingnya ga bagus dan ekspresinya terlalu monoton. Please deh ah, nonton drama pada akhirnya kan soal selera. Sama halnya dengan makan di restoran, ada masakan yang kamu bilang ga enak tapi kata orang lain enak, begitu pula sebaliknya. Sampai saat ini saya masih semangat mengikuti cerita Ha Baek hanya karena NJH ada di situ (maafkan kebiasanku). Buat saya pribadi, kalau saya ga suka aktor/aktrisnya dijamin saya ga bakalan nonton drama mereka, contoh: saya ga suka Ji Chang Wook dan Yoona dan ga akan nonton drama yang ada mereka di dalamnya.

 

Soal jalan cerita, saya kira BOTWG bakal kurang-lebih sama dengan manhwa-nya, tentang Dewa Air Ha Baek yang meminta seorang gadis cantik dikorbankan untuk menjadi mempelainya supaya suatu desa berhenti mengalami kekeringan. Ternyata plotnya bisa dibilang beda banget. Di drama ini Ha Baek turun ke dunia manusia untuk mendapatkan batu dewa untuk mengukuhkan posisi dia sebagai kaisar dunia dewa (di manhwa Ha Baek adalah dewa air dan posisi kaisar dipegang Shin Nong, musuh dari ayah Ha Baek). So Ah yang menurut manhwa jadi gadis desa yang dikorbankan, digantikan dengan So Ah seorang psikiater, keturunan dari keluarga yang sudah berjanji akan menjadi pelayan dewa. Saya suka sekali karakter So Ah ini. Awalnya saya pesimis waktu lihat profil Shin Se Kyung di Wikipedia, bisa ga ya memerankan karakter perempuan dan dokter yang berbeda dengan dokter-dokter lain di banyak drama dalam setahun terakhir (DOTS, Doctors, dan W: Two Worlds). Ternyata oh ternyata So Ah bisa mencuri perhatian dan memikat saya dengan semua ketidaksempurnaannya. Dia judes, labil, pemalu, baik hati, dan suka menolong (walau suka pura-pura ga peduli). Sikap salah tingkahnya waktu dia mulai suka sama Ha Baek bener-bener bikin saya menghayati perasaan dia. Saya ikutan sedih dan nangis lho waktu dia ngerasa putus asa karena beban hidupnya; saya juga ikutan bahagia waktu dia kira dia bisa bersandar pada Ha Baek. Semoga ritme perkembangan perasaan antara Ha Baek dan So Ah tidak terlalu cepat ya; saya sangat suka situasi malu-malu kucing orang yang lagi PDKT. Memang sih ada kesedihan yang membayangi karena Ha Baek kan dewa, umurnya sudah 3.000 tahun (and still counting). Kalaupun akhirnya dia jadi sama So Ah, So Ah akan meninggal duluan karena kefanaan manusia yang bukan dewa. Jadi penasaran kan gimana akhirnya 2 orang ini bisa dijadikan satu oleh PD-nim? Heuheu.

Krystal sebagai Moo Ra kurang pas, mungkin karena pakaian dan dandanannya yang kayak tante-tante. Saya jauh lebih suka dia waktu jadi Lee Bo Na di Heirs (2013), jutek dan gemesin. Saya ga tahu dan ga pengen tahu siapa yang jadi Bi Ryeom, karena dibandingkan NJH pesonanya masih kalah jauh. Karakter yang bakal menyimpan banyak kejutan ternyata CEO Shin (Lim Ju Hwan, dia main juga di Uncontrollably Fond (2016) barengan Kim Woo Bin). Di episode 7 menjelang 8 baru ketahuan kalau dia demigod (makhluk setengah dewa dan setengah manusia). Apakah dia benar-benar baik seperti tampang luarnya, apakah dia akan mencelakakan So Ah, apakah dia akan berusaha merebut So Ah dari Ha Baek? Ih jadi pengen drama ini cepet selesai, terus nontonnya diulang lagi dari episode 1, hehe. Dan kali ini saya akan nonton serius, ga lagi sambil nyetrika seperti nonton drama-drama lain. Kenapa? Karena ada Nam Joo Hyuk di situ, wkwk.

Seperti kebanyakan drama Korea akhir-akhir ini, BOTWG juga disponsori oleh pemerintah Korea dan brand-brand ternama. Empat brand yang saya spot di sini adalah HP Samsung S8 (berulang-ulang disorot khusus oleh kamera, bok), mobil Hyundai, minuman kemasan sari buah sesuatu, dan salah satu operator taxi di Seoul. Memang sebuah drama perlu sponsor untuk menjamin produksinya berjalan lancar, tapi eksposur berlebihan sebuah brand di sepanjang jalan cerita bisa jadi menjengkelkan. Contohnya: HP Samsung S8 warna biru metalik yang berulang kali di-close up oleh kamera mulai dari episode 1 sampai dengan 7. Kalau mobil Hyundai, eksposur brand-nya waktu So Ah duduk di belakang setir dan kamera menyoroti dia dari depan mobil. Hal ini kurang lebih sama dengan mobil Hyundai Tucson yang dikendarai Kapten Yoo Si Jin (Song Joong Ki) di DOTS. Penjualan mobil Hyundai dikabarkan meningkat tajam setelah brand-nya diiklankan dengan “tidak sengaja” oleh SJK. Minuman sari buah yang katanya disukai oleh Ha Baek dapat 1 kali close up di episode 4, dan 1 kali ad lip waktu Ha Baek jelas-jelas minta minuman itu ke Nam Soo Ri. Mungkin eksposurnya akan bertambah di 8 episode mendatang.

Bisa ga sih iklannya ga terlalu obvious? Waktu di Scarlet Heart, NJH ga ngiklan apa-apa. Ya iyalah kan drama historical (sageuk) yang ga ada akses ke barang-barang modern masa kini. Di Weighlifting Fairy, ga ada eksposur brand yang terang-terangan tapi sweater, jeans, dan jaket seperti yang dipakai NJH dan Lee Sung Kyung mulai menjadi trend yang mungkin nih tidak sengaja tercipta. Buktinya apa? Banyak akun di Instagram yang menawarkan pakaian dengan brand/tampilan yang sama persis/mendekati yang dipakai para aktor di WFKBJ. Saya sendiri sampai sekarang suka sekali dengan pakaian ala anak kuliah: kaos, jeans, sweater, jaket parasut, celana training, dan sneakers. So, I was totally sold dengan barang-barang yang diiklankan oleh aktor-aktor tersebut.

Oh ya, ga bisa dipungkiri kalau NJH bisa mempunyai wajah seperti sekarang dengan permak (ga jelas apakah murni make-up dan perawatan ataukah ada unsur operasi plastik juga). Kalau kita lihat foto dia waktu SMA, wah transformasinya jelas banget. Faktor utama sepertinya di perbaikan gigi yang bikin rahang NJH jadi lebih terbentuk. Alis dan bentuk matanya sama. Bisa dibilang permak yang dialami NJH masih minor dibandingkan Lee Min Ho. Coba bandingkan wajah LMH waktu di Boys Over Flowers (2009) dan Legend of The Blue Sea (2016). Bukan sulap, bukan sihir, bentuk hidung dan rahangnya udah berubah banyak. NJH sekarang berusia 23 tahun dan mulai naik daun. Dia sedikit mengingatkan saya pada Lee Min Ho yang mulai naik daun sejak usia 22 tahun karena memerankan Gu Jun Pyo di Boys Over Flowers. Rating dan kepopuleran sebuah drama dan aktor-aktor pemerannya memang tidak bisa diprediksi. Namun sepertinya drama dengan unsur fantasi dan air masih akan menjadi tren sampai tahun depan, karena episode 1 BOTWG sangat mengingatkan saya pada episode 1 Scarlet Heart: Ryeo waktu Hae Soo tenggelam di danau dan terlempar ke masa lalu, dan episode 1 Legend of The Blue Sea waktu Sim Cheong sebagai mermaid mulai ditampilkan.

Semoga karir Nam Joo Hyuk juga secemerlang karir para seniornya ya. Fighting, uri dongsaeng!

Masih Tentang Sung Hoon dan My Secret Romance

Sung Hoon jadi sorotan setelah main di drama My Secret Romance (2017). Kharismanya sebagai seorang chaebol dengan modal badan atletis dan gaya berpakaian formal memang tidak terbantahkan dan sudah teruji di 2 drama lainnya (New Tales of Gisaeng (2011) dan Nobel, My Love (2015)). Awal kisah My Secret Romance bisa diintip di link ini: https://rijotobing.wordpress.com/2017/05/13/review-drama-korea-my-secret-romance/. Review saya waktu itu belum selesai karena episode yang ditayangkan baru sampai episode 7. Di review sebelumnya saya menyoroti bagusnya animasi yang muncul di setiap permulaan episode, yang cakepnya mengingatkan saya pada komik-komik serial cantik terbitan Elex Media di tahun 90-an.

Setelah episode 7, drama berlanjut dengan kesalahpahaman Cha Jin Wook (Sung Hoon) yang menjadi baik pada Yoo Mi karena mengira adik tiri Lee Yoo Mi (Song Ji Eun) adalah anak dari hubungan satu malam mereka 3 tahun lalu (Dong Goo memang kebetulan banget baru berulang tahun ke-3. Sayang ya, Jin Wook cakep tapi ga bisa menghitung kalau setelah pembuahan, ditambah dengan waktu mengandung, harusnya anak dia masih berumur kurang dari 3 tahun). Kesalahpahaman ini berlanjut ke keterlibatan orang tua Jin Wook dan Yoo Mi, sampai pada satu titik ibunya Yoo Mi memberi tahu di acara TV nasional kalau anaknya pernah berhubungan satu malam dengan Jin Wook yang notabene bosnya di Daebok. Dari sini bencana dimulai karena ibu Yoo Mi juga ga malu memberitahu publik kalau dia mantan artis erotis. Yoo Mi putus dari Jin Wook, pindah kerja ke daerah pelosok karena malu sama rekan kerja dan mungkin sama orang-orang se-Seoul, dan kembali merasa nelangsa. Yoo Mi ini memang karakter yang lemah banget, sedih-putus asa-galau melulu. Nonton dia sama sekali ga menyenangkan, kecuali di adegan dia nyanyi di tempat karaoke karena suara aslinya memang bagus.

Gimana dengan Sung Hoon? Di drama ini Sung Hoon punya beberapa gaya rambut:

 

 

 

 

Bikin dia jadi kelihatan lebih menarik ga? ENGGAK. Saya malah bingung karena seakan-akan ada beberapa aktor yang memerankan Cha Jin Wook. Oke lah kalau gaya rambutnya berbeda antara 3 tahun lalu waktu pertama kali bertemu Yoo Mi dan sekarang. Tapi kalau di masa sekarang dia punya 2-3 gaya rambut, rasanya mengganggu banget. Dari episode ke-8 sampai ke-13 tambah kelihatan kalau aktingnya Sung Hoon tidak terlalu bagus. Dia banyak menunjukkan ekspresi komikal seperti pura-pura terkejut, bengong ga jelas, dan sejenisnya. Bahkan waktu dia mengejar Yoo Mi ke daerah di tepi pantai itu wajahnya ga menunjukkan bahagia yang gimana gitu karena sudah berhasil menemukan Yoo Mi. Dia juga ga marah gimana gitu waktu dia melihat Yoo Mi meluk Jung Hyun Tae. Sebenernya yang ngaku suka duluan si Hyun Tae, tapi yang meluk kan Yoo Mi dan bisa bikin semua jadi salah paham. Pada akhirnya Jin Wook ga marah lho di adegan itu, dia cuma pergi aja dari sekolah tempat Yoo Mi kerja. Beneran cinta ga sih?

Yang menarik dari akting Sung Hoon cuma waktu dia ke restoran milik mamanya, makan sup abalone sambil nangis bombay. Adegan ini tetep kalah mellow dibandingkan Kim Woo Bin yang nangis di Uncontrollably Fond (2016) waktu dia makan masakan buatan ibunya sebelum karakter Woo Bin meninggal (atau ga sih?) di drama itu. Di situ Sung Hoon keliatan beneran sedih, menyesal, dan sebagainya. Tapi eh tapi, ibunya kok lempeng banget sih buat seseorang yang udah lama ga ketemu anaknya? Ga mewek berlebihan gitu padahal katanya udah tahunan ga ketemu Jin Wook. Sebagai seorang ibu yang punya anak laki-laki, rasa-rasanya mustahil buat saya untuk tidak emosional di momen seperti itu.

Gimana Jin Wook dan Yoo Mi bisa bersatu kembali? Ibu Yoo Mi yang memisahkan, dia pula yang menyatukan mereka kembali dengan cara yang sama: curcol di talkshow di stasiun TV nasional, bok. Karakter ibu Yoo Mi memang paling menyebalkan sedunia: kekanak-kanakan, egois, mau menang sendiri. Saya sempat shock pas tau aktris yang sama memerankan ibu Kang Mo Yeon (Song Hye Kyo) di Descendants of The Sun (2016). Untung di DOTS scene di mana ada dia hanya sedikit, haha, karena sungguh saya ga demen sama aktrisnya. Oya, Jin Wook dan Yoo Mi bertemu kembali di pagi hari waktu kantor Daebok baru buka. Mereka ketemu lagi di lobby kantor dengan Jin Wook membuka tangan lebar-lebar untuk menyambut Yoo Mi dannnn … mulai lagilah ciuman berlebihan yang disorot dari berbagai sudut. Yaiks … satu hal yang pasti dari drama ini adalah lust-nya, bukan romance-nya. My Secret Romance adalah drama romance yang tidak menunjukkan perasaan yang berkembang antara karakter utamanya. Ujug-ujug tidur bareng, ujug-ujug ketemu lagi, ujug-ujug seperti pacaran (ga jelas udah jadian atau engga tapi Jin Wook sering main nyosor cium), ujug-ujug pisah, ujug-ujug balik lagi. Dan konyolnya waktu pernikahan ibu Yoo Mi, Jin Wook baru sadar kalau bra pad yang selama ini dia simpan adalah milik calon mertuanya. Hellowwww?? Kenapa ga dari awal dia tanya Yoo Mi kenapa inisial di bra pad adalah M.H. bukan Y.M.? Bener-bener ga masuk akal.

Katanya 96% dari penonton suka drama ini. Saya terus terang cuma suka lihat Sung Hoon dan Kim Jae Young di sini. KJY sebagai Hyung Tae adalah boyfriend material banget deh, karakter temen-jadi-demen yang bisa diandalkan setiap saat, jauh lebih baik dari karakter Jin Wook yang ga tegas. Di MyDramaList My Secret Romance dapat rating 7.6 dari 10. Saya duga para penonton pada ga suka dari sisi alur cerita, perpindahan adegan, dan ending yang dipaksakan. Seperti webdrama Noble, My Love, MSR juga diburu-buru untuk selesai dengan cepat, dan di kedua drama ini Sung Hoon bisa tampil dengan 2-3 gaya rambut yang berbeda. Why oh why? Noble, My Love adalah 20 episode webdrama sepanjang 300 menit, yang bisa dikompres lagi dari 15 menit jadi 10 menit setiap episodenya, saking banyaknya pengulangan adegan dari episode-episode sebelumnya. Di NML Sung Hoon jadi chaebol juga, dingin dan karismatik juga, cakep juga, dan lawan mainnya sama galaunya dengan Song Ji Eun di MSR. NML bisa disaksikan di kissasiandotcom.

Setelah saya Google ternyata Sung Hoon juga main di Oh, My Venus (2015) sebagai wing man-nya So Ji Sub. Kayaknya saya bakal nonton cuma karena ada So Ji Sub di situ. Memang Sung Hoon terhitung aktor baru sih, baru kurang-lebih 6 tahun saja, jadi aktingnya, pembawaannya belum matang. Secara fisik dia punya potensi karena hellow, mantan perenang gitu lho, tapi secara pembawaan, kharisma, dll. dia beda banget dengan karakter yang dia mainkan. Sering kelihatan kayak orang salah tingkah yang ga tahu harus ngapain di tempat di mana dia berada. Bikin saya ga antusias untuk menonton drama lain dia yang juga lagi tayang (The Idolmaster KR, 2017).

Movie Review: Spider-Man Homecoming

I’M SO IN LOVE WITH TOM HOLLAND’S SPIDER-MAN THAT I’M GONNA WRITE A REVIEW IN CAPITALS.

THERE, I WROTE IT.

But I’m going to return to using the proper upper and lower cases for the convenience of your eyes when you’re reading this review, ha-ha.

This movie is FREAKING AWESOME! I was speechless, it was so much better than what I expected. After the overly gloomy and sensitive Toby Maguire and the uninteresting Andrew Garfield versions of Spider-Man, Tom Holland’s was surprisingly fresh and light. It told exactly how it would look and feel if a high school student suddenly possessed a superpower. He would be awkward, sloppy, boastful, and confused. He wanted to brag but in the same time he had to be discreet about it. Thank goodness Peter Parker had Ned as his wing man; otherwise he would grow up right into his adolescence to be a depressing man like Tom Maguire’s Spider-Man who didn’t have anyone to share his secret with. I believe Tom Holland really nailed it when he’s being Peter Parker (a loner, a smart, nerdy, and unpopular kid at school who’s continuously being bullied by Flash), and when he’s being Spider-Man (even when he’s wearing his mask, what could have been his face expressions and emotions if he hadn’t been wearing it, were translated well into his gestures and voice tones). He’s very attractive, funny, and unsettled, with or without the mask. Tom Holland’s portrayal of the character was enough to make me Google him for a few hours to know more of his backgrounds.

Tom Holland is 21 years old, an actor and a trained dancer who’s been performing in musical since he was 12 years old. He does gymnastics, parkour, and was educated in The BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology. Holland adds to the list of British actors taking over the roles of American superheroes, such as Andrew Garfield as previous Spider-Man and Henry Cavill as Superman. From Wikipedia we can know that many non-American actors who are popular in Hollywood are trained in reputable institutions for acting and performing. That alone landed them memorable and important roles which stay in their fans’ hearts over the years, like Henry Cavill (Superman), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), to name a few. Are American actors less trained than their non-American counterparts? I’m not saying that. It’s just that when we’re talking about actors portraying superheroes for both Marvel and DC Cinematic Universes, most names that will come to our minds are not of American origin. Who doesn’t know Hugh Jackman who plays Wolverine for almost two decades? Even his fellow X-Men in the movies, Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen, are also Brits. Henry Cavill is a British actor, the second most notable actor to play Superman after it was portrayed by the late Christopher Reeve, and American actor, in 1978. I was just wondering if the schools attended by these British actors had something to do with them being better and more accomplished actors than the American ones.

Okay, back to Spider-Man movie review. It’s a coming-of-age movie to be honest. It reminded me a bit of “Descendants”, a Disney Original Movie produced in 2015, and their similarity lay in depicting teenagers having superpowers. What I liked about Spider-Man was his eagerness to prove himself and in doing so he screwed up a lot. I could however relate to his efforts; I was once a teenager like he was in the movie. It was so normal, so human to go out there, make mistakes, and try to win somebody’s approval. Spider-Man suit in this movie was sophisticated, but I preferred the blue hoodie and jeans with red accent Peter wore when he was fighting Vulture for the last time. It showed who he basically was, an average teenage boy wearing what other teenagers were wearing in their every day lives. When he’s not shooting spider web from his wrist, I almost forgot that Peter Parker’s a superhero by radioactive accident, because oh because he appeared like every other kid in the block who played hooky to do something else he thought much more interesting. Tony Stark reluctantly took him under his wing and made Peter somehow his protégé. Tony’s taking the Spider-Man suit from Peter and saying that if he’s nothing without the suit, then he shouldn’t be wearing it, was one of the best parts in the movie about directing and setting boundaries for teenager. It’s also a well example of discipline and tough love. Peter was being such a good boy, that even though he fell back into the usual boring routines he had to go through every day as a normal teenager, he didn’t complain or rebel to Tony Stark. I guess he saw it coming considering he did make a mess by interfering with the FBI operation in capturing Vulture and his accomplices. Seeing the ferry torn into two and suspended by his spider web only was just one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a movie this year.

The Vulture. Oh my Batman! Michael Keaton, everybody. He’s as charming as ever and his taking the role of a villain with a slight conscience when it came to his family (even until the end he refused to sell out Spider-Man’s real identity to his fellow inmate, probably because he was grateful to Spider-Man for saving his and his daughter’s lives), was just the right mixture of ruthlessness and compassion. One thing for sure, Spider-Man Homecoming was more realistic to depict American society nowadays. From coming-of-age movie perspectives, this movie was as interracial as it got to describe the composition of youths in American societies nowadays. The high school students here were black, white, Indian, Chinese/Japanese/Korean (I can’t tell), and even Native American (Ned). I was surprised when Vulture was revealed as Liz’s father. An interracial family with white father and black mother, hmm, I didn’t see it coming. The most playful things I saw in the movie were when Spider-Man interrogating the guy who almost bought the gun from Vulture. It was so raw and hilarious, showing that it’s Spider-Man’s first time interrogating a bad guy and he’s not good at it, yet. I was also excited when he got Karen, the voice assistant for his suit and how she’s teaching him the cool stuffs to do with his enhanced suit. Karen’s function was a bit similar to Jarvis’, because hey every superhero is lonelier than most human beings for living behind their secret identities (although it’s not so secretive for Tony Stark/Iron Man) and they do need someone to be their confidantes.

As much as superhero movies are awesome in CGI and combat performances, the lack of new concepts and themes has made them boring. The fresh wind was delivered two years ago by “The Ant Man” starring Paul Rudd. It is a story of a man, an ex-convict, who can change into a kind of ant leader to save the world. How absurd and entertaining is the idea? After watching Spider-Man Homecoming I’m more hopeful to watch other superhero movies. After a series of dreadful, theme-wise, Avengers movies (the Avengers, Winter Soldier, Age of Ultron, and the last one was Civil War), Spider-Man movie is like a coat of fresh paint on a house which has been battered by earthquakes and other unfortunate events. It promises new hope, optimism, and fun. Not forget to mention that the previous actors who played Spider-men were kind of old to play someone who’s still at school. Holland on the other hand is still young (he just turned 21) and looks young that he can still portray a 15-year old kid. I’m hopeful that he will carry out the youth and energy into the other four installments of Spider-Man in Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m very much looking forward to it.

 

Movie Review: The Mummy

A half-naked woman was bending over an equally half-naked man, ready to slit open his abdomen with a dagger in order to make him god.

That was probably one of the most memorable scenes as it was displayed over and over again throughout the movie.

The woman, called Ahmanet, was the one who made the deal with Set, the god of death, to claim the throne which should have been inherited by her if her half-brother hadn’t been born. My question is, why didn’t she slit open her own body with the dagger to give Set the physical form? Ahmanet is a coward princess, through and through. Which way is more cowardly than killing someone while they’re asleep, i.e. her father, step-mother, and half-brother? A frontal combat will be more dignified. Some trivial facts, Set is the Egyptian god of storms, desert, chaos, evil, and war, and Anubis is the god of death. The scriptwriters perhaps intentionally overlooked these facts for story development purpose. But you can Google almost everything nowadays and knowing that the movie chose the wrong god to portray death is a bit annoying.

Ahmanet was then detained, mummified alive, buried in a place faraway from Egypt, and her name was erased from the history. After her resurrection, she was on the quest to find the dagger which would bring Set back to this world to take revenge on human kinds. No explanation was offered on what the human kinds did Set wrong that he was very vengeful toward them. She chose Nick (Tom Cruise) to be the body for Set because she locked eyes with him when Nick and his friends found her tomb. Ahmanet’s mummy was then determined to find the lost dagger and the story was then mixed with the stories of English crusader knights. The dagger was apparently disassembled and one of the crusader knights was buried with the ruby from the dagger. For what reason? No explanation was offered.

I had expected Tom Cruise to make the movie more interesting and believable than the previous franchise, and I was disappointed. In terms of stunts, he delivered the best he possibly could. It’s like seeing Ethan Hunt from the Mission Impossible on a different setting with different goals. He looked awesome riding his horse in the dessert, avoiding shots in a wrecked city, going thumb wheeling in a zero-gravity airplane, and driving through a forest. Tom Cruise delivered the actions like no other, and maybe he took on the role just for the sake of it. In terms of story lines and drama, this movie is like another million of Hollywood movies with similar or exactly the same theme. Tom Cruise didn’t upgrade the thrill or give the class the movie should have had, like what he always did in his other movies. He did well in the drama/romantic part when he had changed into a monster after killing Ahmanet. His farewell speech to Jenny character was melancholy, a little bit reminded me of the final scene he had with Renee Zellweger in the movie “Jerry Maguire”.

Russell Crowe was cast as Henry Jekyll/Edward Hyde. I grew up reading the book Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, and I found it absurd to have this character added to the movie as a third party, a secret organization who wanted to detain Ahmanet’s mummy in order to contain and eventually destroy the evil she brought with her.  The original story of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was about ambiguity in a person’s personality and moral choices and how he sides with good and evil from time to time. In this movie Russell Crowe was mostly Dr Jekyll until one time he didn’t get his serum in time (the real story indeed talks about a serum to make the change from Dr Jekyll to Mr. Hyde, and vice versa), changed into Mr. Hyde, and started to fight with Tom Cruise. Russell Crowe is just awesome whenever he’s playing a father/authoritative figure (in Superman movies, for instance) , but in this movie he sucked in portraying a character with split personalities, one who’s willing to save the world and another who’s willing to destroy it.

Typical things for a movie like The Mummy are:

  1. The antagonist is sucking life out of his object by planting a kiss on the object’s mouth. Duh, as if there is no other way to gain energy from another person/object.
  2. Insects, e.g. spiders and bugs, and rats are the best to make us have goose bumps. Seeing them crawling over the surfaces on the movie was very disturbing. CGI or not, they looked pretty real to me.

One unexpected thing about this movie was the humor. Jenny character was all convinced that Nick character would put her above everything else, that he would sacrifice his life to save her by giving her the only parachute in the falling plane. Nick character’s answer was priceless, “I thought there’s another one (parachute).” So he never thought about saving only her. He also wanted to save himself, but unfortunately they’re lacking parachute and he got to die because the plane crashed. Moral of the story is, never think you’re as important to other people as they are to you. And another funny scene was when Nick was going to be split open by Ahmanet. He was lying on the altar with her on top of him and ready to stab him, and suddenly Jenny appeared from nowhere and caught them red-handed. The comic expression on the actors’ faces on this scene was enough to make me laugh.

The title of the movie should be The Mummy and The Lost Dagger, to differentiate it with The Mummy Trilogy, most notable for having Brendan Fraser and Dwayne Johnson in them. After Fast Furious 8, Transformers, and now The Mummy, I’ve become more convinced that Hollywood movies are starting to lose their appeal. Two out of 5 stars from me for The Mummy, merely because Tom Cruise was in it.